August 8, 2011

Itō Hiromi

Itō Hiromi [Japan/lives also in USA]

Born in Tokyo in 1955, Itō Hiromi is one of the most noted contemporary Japanese women writers, having received numerous literary prizes.

Itō first became known in the 1980s for collections of poetry centering on subjects such as sexuality, pregnancy, the erotic desires of females, and other issues, presenting her material in narrative voices that provide the texts with a dramatic urgency. Among her works from this period were Princess (1979), Oume (Green Plumes, 1982), and Territory-Ron 1 & 2 (On Territory, 1985 and 1987).

Itō also wrote numerous essays on women's issues, many of which, bearing names such Good Breasts, Bad Breasts; Tummy, Cheek, Bottom and What Did You Eat?, became famous in Japan.

The poet had been fascinated with Native American poetry since her earliest writings, and in 1990 met the American poet Jerome Rothenberg, visiting Japan, who had been a major force in re-examining Native American poetry. At Rothernberg's invitation, Itō began making regular trips to the US, finally separating from her Japanese husband, the literary scholar Masahiko Nishi, and marrying the British artist Harold Cohen. The couple now lives in Encinitas, California, with Itō traveling back and forth between their home and Japan.

More recently, Itō wrote several novellas, being nominated for an winning several prizes in Japan, including the Noma Literary Prize for New Writers, the Takami Jun Prize, and the Hagiwara Sakutarō Prize.

In Japan she is the translator of Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat.


Kusaki no Sora (Tokyo: Atelier Publishing Planning, 1978); Princess (Tokyo: Shiyosha, 1979); Collected Poems of Hiromi Itō: New Generation Poets Series (Tokyo: Shichosha, 1980); Oume (Tokyo: 1982); Territory-Ron 2 (Tokyo: Shichosa, 1985); Territory-Ron [co-written with Nobuyoshi Araki] (Tokyo: Shichosha, 1987); Collected Poems of Hiromi Itō: Contemporary Poetry Series (Tokyo: Shichosha, 1988); Noro to Saniwa [co-written with Chizuko Ueno] (Tokyo: Heibonsha, 1991); Watashi wa Anjuhimeko de aru (Tokyo: Shichosha, 1993); Te, Ashi, Niku, Karada [co-written with Miyako Ishiuchi] (Tokyo: Chikuma Shobo, 1995); Kawara Arekusa (Tokyo: Shichosa, 2005)


Killing Kanoko: Selected Poems of Hiromi Itō, trans. by Jeffrey Angles (Notre Dame, Indiana: Action Books, 2009)

For a selection of poems translated into English by Itō, click here:

For two new poems by Itō Hiromi, click below:

For a review of Killing Kanoko and a video of the poet reading in English, click here:

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