January 31, 2023

Jean Toomer [Nathan Eugene Toomer] (USA) 1894-1967


Jean Toomer [Nathan Eugene Toomer] (USA)


Nathan Eugene Toomer was born in Washington, D.C. in a family was of racially mixed blood. His grandfather on his mother’s side was Louisiana politician P. B. S. Pinchback, who grounded his Reconstruction career on an insistence that he was black. In any event, the young Toomer, growing up in an affluent suburb of Washington, was fair skinned, and identified with what he described as a “fusion” of the racial intermingling. Toomer’s father left his mother in 1895, and in 1905 he and his mother moved to New Rochelle and Brooklyn, New York, settling with her white second husband. Upon her death in 1909, Toomer returned to his maternal grandparents, who now lived in a black neighborhood of the city. He attended a black high school.

     In 1914 he began at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, determining to major in agriculture. But psychologically, he was not fit for the university, and left after one year, eventually enrolling in other universities but never obtaining a degree. In 1919, at City College of New York, he settled upon being a writer, changing his first name to Jean. His major influences during those years were the bohemian figures of Greenwich Village, particularly the novelist and critic Waldo Frank.

     Over the next two years he divided his time between Washington and New York, reading a wide range of literature and writing stories, poems, review, essays and other work. This would be a time of heady experimentation, and most of his works from this period have been characterized by at least one of his anthologizers as “The Aesthetic Period” of his career. He experimented with poems that imitated Imagist work, sound poems, and, in at least one instance—in “Banking Coal”—explored imagery and a voice that came close to that of Robert Frost.

     In mid-1921 Toomer accepted an offer to become principal of a black school in Sparta, Georgia. During that period Toomer came to understand his racial roots and came to recognize himself in the folk-songs and accents of rural black America. The result of this, was a new sensibility, expressed in his 1923 in his work Cane, almost a document of his lyrical experience in the South. Freely mixing poetic prose, narrative, and poems broken into lines, Cane reminds one, in some senses, of the experiment, Spring and All, published the same year by William Carlos Williams. But in the work’s free expression of African American forms such as spirituals and work songs, it became one of the most influential documents for the flowering of black writers and artists of the 1920s-1930s that would come to be described as the Harlem Renaissance.

     After this period, however, Toomer did not continue with the expression of black culture, but came under the influence of the Russian founder of “Unitism,” Georgei Gurdjieff, who combined elements from philosophy, psychology, dance and eastern religious ideas. In 1924 Toomer began teaching Gurdjieff’s methods in New York and, later, in Chicago; his poetry also became infused with Gurdjieff’s ideas, continuing in that mode even after his break with the guru in 1934.
    Toomer had married Margery Latimer in 1931, but after her death in childbirth, he remarried, settling into a domestic life on a farm in Pennsylvania. He continued writing until his death in 1967.


Cane (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1923); The Collected Poems of Jean Toomer, ed. by Robert B. Jones and Margery Toomer Latimer (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1988)


For a selection of poetry, go here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/jean-toomer

January 30, 2023

Joaquin Pasos (Nicaragua) 1914-1947

Joaquín Pasos (Nicaragua)


Born in Granada, Nicaragua in 1914, Joaquín Pasos was a popular poet of Nicaragua until his early death, at the age of 32, in 1947, just after he completed his great symphonic epic, The War Song of Things.

     Pasos spent most of his life in Granada, the colonial center of the country. The son of a well-to-do family, he wrote songs of birth and death which connected more with the Indian culture than to his own privileged upbringing. He also wrote the popular poems of a “Young Man,” including various sub-topics such as “Poems of a Young Man Who’s Never Travelled” “Poems of a Young Man Who’s Never Loved” and “Poems of a Young Man Who Does Not Speak English. The first grouping concerns places to which he’d never traveled, such as Norway, a poem about which he wrote in English, although he claimed to have no knowledge of the language.

     Pasos, whose cousin was the poet Pablo Antonio Cuadra, was influenced, quite obviously by the “vanguard” poets of South America—in particular Borges and Huidobro, as well as the Mexican experimentalists of the Estridentistas and Contemporaneos groups. Yet his work, which was collected in Poesía of 1960 and in Poemas de un joven in 1986, forged its own poetic territory. Beloved in his native homeland, he is basically unknown to English-language readers.


Poesía (San Salvador: Departamento Editorial del Miniserio de Cultura, 1960); Poemas escogidas (México: Comunidad Lantinoamericana de Escritores, 1974); Poemas de un joven (Managua: Editorial Neuva Nicaragua, 1986)


Oh! This is Norway
soft as cotton,
land like a cookie
and ocean chewing its shores.

All morning I’ve been on the bridge
and the fish carts have gone by.
A small factory shot through with windows
flings out a red diabolo each minute–streetcars.

Oh! This is Norway
possessed of metal trees
and young ladies brought up in refrigerators.
Here a bird turns like a windmill
and the horses are tamer than in Holland.
The fjords rise like old theater curtains.
Every six months the sun goes down.

Fish-country on the North Pole’s gaff,
white bear with a blue eye: Spitzbergen.

All morning I was on the bridge
and the fish carts went by.
One of them dropped a dead codfish
and the streetcar guillotine sliced it in two.

Oh! This is Norway
green and white,
white and green like an obscene old man.

-Translated from the Spanish by Yolanda Blanco and Chris Brandt


Tremol Hotel

Waxen whores and young Anabaptists
cross paths beneath this window in the Tremol Hotel.
I sleep here.
I eat in this gold and hibiscus dining room.
Every night I dance with Zulita.
Every morning the man at the next table wishes me good day.
This is in the Tremol Hotel, beneath whose windows
the paths cross
of waxen whores and young Anabaptists.

But I have a soul as tender as marshmallows,
and my eyes flash on and off like the intermittent neon signs.
That’s why I love this hotel, this little rest, a locket of serenity.

Across the street, a sad sidewalk and a public clock drawn my eye each year,
and thereupon I invent a tenderness old and ripe.
In the Tremol Hotel, no one know me yet,
in spite of my familiarity with its doors and its swallows.
No one, maybe not even aviators,
can treasure as I do
these post-card memories.

–Translated from the Spanish by Yolanda Blanco and Chris Brandt


German Dream Number 5
for Wilfrid Rambush, good friend and German barman

A doll factory is an enormous house with huge glass windows
in whose panes the german landscape resolves like a dream at 10 am.
In the public buildings bronze eagles open up a peasant sky
like a paper backdrop above large-footed men with professorial mein.
Nonetheless in Unter den Linden, in the shade of lime trees
[their females walk, women with apple faces.
A breeze of raw silk peddles illustrated magazines and settles
[on the benches of the great stations that recall dirigibles at rest.
The serious outdoor clocks of the department stores run for Wilhelm, Franz, Fritz,
[and Hans,
and fill the lives of these good cheese boys with some kind of liebkosen,*
until in time they acquire large bellies with gold chains
and impressive Kaiser-type moustaches beneath red noses.
German simplicity overflows in the heads of bock and shows off its
[bourgeois goodness in the fresh ripe smiles of the Herren.
But no. We are a strong people, a military race with pointed steel helmets
and we are marching toward das Kolasal**
with the young flesh of Berlin
and Bismarck’s steel statue.

*literally, caress; stroking, comfort.
**the colossal, with the accent on the last syllable

–Translated from the Spanish by Yolanda Blanco and Chris Brandt

Sister South

Didn’t I tell you, pick up
your feet Elise, for time flies?

-Fray Luis de Leon

Long Beach, Alhambra, South Pasadena,
flower and sun
how cool the air, the wind,
the sun,
life is aromatic
the smiles, the automobiles,
the sun:
behind the window grates there’s always
a flower growing,
a little nun, 20 years old
the Sister
sun of Long Beach
Alhambra, flower and sun
in South Pasadena, the wind
is made of flower and sun
life is strong
in the South,
it’s easy in the Northern
nighttimes to let life go
and forget it like a used match,
but life is strong
in the South
it’s a new car in love with a flower
still, little nun of 20 years
you were not betrothed to the sun
you didn’t step in to the Tourist Agencies
you never knew Captain Cook
your lips flowered into no smile
your hear to no love
your flower to no flower.
Long Beach, Alhambra, South Pasadena,
life is cool, the air,
the Sun.
The South.
The Nun.

–Translated from the Spanish by Yolanda Blanco and Chris Brandt


Ocean, ocean again,
fruit, fruit again,
today I’m going out to seek
Sinbad’s sea roads,
Ocean, fruit again,
Fruit, ocean again.
Rascal, your shrewd life
goes from city to city,
city, fruit again,
rascal, ocean again.
Into the wind the boat embroiders*
borders, barbarity, banister, bar,
again the color of wind
brings me the smell of the sea.
Wind, wind again,
ocean, ocean again.
Sailor on land cries out,
sailor at sea shuts up,
a rascal went to war,
a rascal went to peace.
Rascal, land again,
rascal, ocean again.

*Pasos is playing with the similarities among the words bordar (to embroider), bordear (to tack), and borde (edge, brink) and with the continuing series of “b” sounds in a string on nonsense words.

–Translated from the Spanish by Yolanda Blanco and Chris Brandt


A great idleness, Sesquipedalia Verga.
A lecture.
A lesson in grammar.
A duck.
A lame and baseless hatred
drops in like a bicycle
and crashes against the wall like the painting of a storm.
No. I want to go on conversing,
I want to live on the roofs,
with the cicada family.

In the solitude of the long dormitories like the holds of ships
[sailing the sky,
or the sad shed roofs, a homemade paraplegia of the thatch brain,
there where words resound and verbs are conjugated in emptiness,
there a grief was born in a brick.

All the living who died here,
all the dead who were born here,
left of their irascible grief traces like the sun’s of its rays.
Let the doors and windows open for them, mouths and eyes of the wall!

Don Dionisio, don Sotero, don Juan,
I’m a Nicaraguan too
but I’ll be in the stations on time for the big express trains
[from the heavyweight towns.
and in the broad passageways of the transatlantic arks I will
the balcony railings, painted a soft green, of the little white hotels.

To sail ever south
following the ocean currents,
the fugitive winds,
the tempests that how at the shores,
the waves that chew at the rocks.
I’m going to hunt stars with a rifle,
run with my eyes, see with my hands.
The moon comes out with me and hangs itself in a tree
and the sun follows me, licking my feet.

That woman who’s waiting for me seated on a sleeping stone
is the isotherm of my breast, that oscillates like a flock of compass needles.
Out of the time of the blue thread comes a tear by wire
and a sweet little gamine smiles at me like a lemon candy.
My curlew’s sidelong song tips its hat to me
while cinder-covered Concha puts her doll the broom to sleep in a corner
They are so much alike, the broom and the little rice-bird!*

*The Nicaraguan arrocero is a type of bird that lives around rice plantations, very playful and mischievous, that gleans fallen grains of rice.

–Translated from the Spanish by Yolanda Blanco and Chris Brandt

Sweet Monstrous Beings

Sweet Monstrous beings like the automobile moan for you.
Homogenous things, even things purified like carbon, moan for you.
Everything from the first stone your schoolmate threw to the last stone
[that will be hurled against you—oh adulterer to be!—
moans for you.
Because of the slimmest and most sufficient reason for your existence
like your fifteen-year-old leg,
because you learned to speak and things are still amazed to hear themselves
[repeated in your mouth
because your breast is a little universe in which we can adore God’s roundness.

–Translated from the Spanish by Yolanda Blanco and Chris Brandt


The Infanta as a Prisoner
for Charles Chaplin

Your face is imprisoned, poor Ardenolilla*—we can’t say we didn’t know
Three days in prison, three times your head will bow.
Teresa, they will pull three tears out of you.

With filth you have painted sorrow on your face,
you put your cherry foot through the iron bars,
your naked foot, another of your prison coquetries.

Ah! This strict jail cries out night and day,
a handful of tears makes a river flowing along your name
carved into the table top, Teresa.

Teresa, Teresa, the first river ever to rise on earth is on the table.
We are about to lose our head.
But we will find your naked foot. Prisoner Ardenolilla.

Trees reached their branches in through the fat window
to bring you birds and after-dinner fruit.
If you laugh, nature dies laughing, too.

Because your joy is a joy that prays,
it is the pure belly laugh of a lewd virgin.
But now you are a prisoner and you’ve painted sorrow on your face.
that’s the way the beggars love you who came to see you and
[left the bouquet of tears on the table,
the ones who love you from the very bottom of their miseries,
the ones who hope you die so they can write this trifle on your headstone:
“The princess who wanted to be princess of the beggars.”

*The meaning of this name to J.P. is unclear to us, but is obviously some sort of word play. Literally, it might mean “Little Fiery One,” or it might be the kind of nickname given to a princess.

–Translated from the Spanish by Yolanda Blanco and Chris Brandt



“Norway,” “Tremol Hotel,” “German Dream Number 5,” “Sister South,” “Seafruit,” “Piano,” “Sweet Monstrous Beings,” “The Infanta as a Prisoner,” and “Song Songs to Woman Woman”
are published in translation by Yolanda Blanco and Chris Brandt. Copyright ©2006 by Yolanda Blanco and Chris Brandt. Reprinted by permission of Green Integer.

January 29, 2023

POETRY FOR READERS | Alfredo Giuliani, ed. : I Novissimi (with poetry by Giuliani, Nanni Balestrini, Elio Pagliarani, Antonio Porta, and Edoardo Sanguineti) [link]




                        Featuring books of poetry

                        and where to order them.

today’s title:

I Novissimi

Edited by Alfredo Giuliani

With poetry by Nanni Balestrini, Alfredo 

Giuliani, Elio Pagliarani, Antonio Porta,

and Edoardo Sanguineti

order here:


I NOVISSIMI (The New Ones) (Italy)

I NOVISSIMI (The New Ones) (Italy)
The I Novissimi was a group of Italian poets writing in the 1950s who coalesced around the anthology I Novissimi: Poesie per gli anni ’60, published originally by Rosconi e Paolazzi Editore in 1961, and reprinted in 1965 by Giulio Einaudi Editore.
     Edited by poet Alfredo Giuliani, I Novissimi included five poets—Nanni Balestrini, Alfred Giuliani, Elio Pagliarani, Antonio Porta, and Edoardo Sanguineti—who shared a sense of linguistic crisis, demanding a “new” and experimental poetry within the critical moment.

The original volume included poetry by each of the five poets along with extensive footnotes and a groundbreaking essay by Giuliani. The group had an immediate impact on Italian poetry and, through its influences, on poetry throughout Europe and South America. By the 1990s, however, the influential volume had gone out-of-print in Italy, and was republished, in both Italian and English, edited by Luigi Ballerini and Paul Vangelisti (with translations by David Jacobsen, Bradley, Dick, Michael Moore, Stephen Sartarelli, and the two editors), published by Sun & Moon Press in the United States. The volume used the same cover design as the original, and included both the 1961 and 1965 introductions by Giuliani, as well as a new “Preface to the American Edition” by Giuliani.
   The groundbreaking book has since been reprinted into Italian.
   Although there have been numerous other developments in Italian poetry since the I Novissimi group, the poets and their poetics remain today a source of important inspiration for Italian and European literature.

Douglas Messerli

Alfredo Giuliani (Italy) 1924-2007

Alfredo Giuliani (Italy)



Alfredo Giuliani was born in Pesaro in 1924 and lives in Rome. He holds a degree in philosophy from the University of Rome and currently teaches Italian literature at the University of Chieti.

    In addition to being the poetry editor of Il Verri between 1957-1961 and the director of the bimonthly Quindici from 1967-1969, he is a regular contributor to the literary pages of the daily La Republica.

     Guiliani edited the important anthology of Italian poetry, I Novissimi, in 1961, containing the poetry of his friends, Elio Pagliarani, Edoardo Sanguineti, Nanni Balestrini, Antonio Porta, and his own work.   

     Among his published volumes are: Il cuore zoppo (1955), Povera Juliet e altre poesie (1965), Il tautofono (1969), Chi l'avrebbe mai detto (1973), Autunno del novecento (1984), Versi e non versi (1986) and Ebbrezza di placamenti (1993), and two collections of critical essays, Immagini e maniere (1965) and Le droghe di Marsiglia (1977).   

    Giuliani wrote works for theater and the long fiction, Il giovane Max (1972).

    Giuliani has translated work by such modern writers as Dylan Thomas, T.S. Eliot, William Empson and James Joyce, as well as Ben Jonson and Shakespeare.




Il cuore zoppo (1955); Pelle d'asino (Milano: All'insegna del pesce d'oro, 1964); Povera juliet: e altre poesie (Milano: Feltrinelli, 1965); Il tautofono, 1966-1969 (Milano: Feltrinelli, 1969); Chi l'avrebbe detto (Torino: Einaudi, 1973); Versi e non versi (Milano: Feltrinelli, 1986); Ebbrezza di placamenti (Lece: Piero Manni, 1994); Poetrix Bazaar (Napoli: Pironti, 2003); Furia serena. Opere sceite (Verona: Anterem, 2004)




selections in I Novissimi (Los Angeles: Sun & Moon Press, 1995); selections in I Novissimi, ed. by Luigi Ballerini and Federica Santini (New York: Agincourt Press, 2017)


You can watch the Poetry war: Alfredo Giuliani vs. Ariodante Marianni at this link:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6it6staOpLo



Chomsky Poem


Sentences (1) and (2) are equally nonsensical, but any English speaker will recognize that only (1) is grammatical: (1) colorless green ideas sleep furiously. (2) furiously sleep ideas green colorless.

Noam Chomsky, Syntactic Structures


colorless green ideas sleep furiously

furiously sleep green colorless ideas

colorless sleep furiously green ideas

furiously sleep ideas green colorless


let's suppose that the world were not a beautiful green

or without by blazing clouds snows raining sulphurous

swift inconceivably glaring winds

in dark sleep in torrents streak colorless

that the purple trace sleep solar sensation


world is masturbation of a god furiously

green crocodiles never laugh without green ideas

of scales and teeth pianos without die

color poets imitate delirious they say of shade

furiously the dog laughs the cat cats the dog


green ideas in the dark sleet sleep swiftly

raining off the solar wind my furiously

colorless green idea of her stay in the shade

furiously ideas sleep green colorless


furiously ideas sleep green colorless

of her frozen may the world be she beautiful as stone

daybreak in the great circle of shade bursts into flames

furiously blazing green with no color at all


if the green idea sleeps that without is in the same

stone as you in the leap of shade stays furiously

bird hanging sounds garland of gentle green

dog waiting for ball at the bounce cats the dog

furiously colorless my idea to stay


ignoring one another cat dog blackbird in the same green

without animated this cosmos is living parts of shade

I didn't see her green or longed for dead color

vomited soil idea earthworms undergreen

of her furiously sleeps idea green colorless


green lizards don't scurry without green stone I glare

you occult fear reeking of shade in the circle of air

grey burden valediction of every green blade an animal

furiously sleep green colorless ideas


furiously green sleep colorless ideas

between pinking beaked claws furiously the lawn

sleeps of the green outside winged body of water stone

melted sex of he who dies staying in shade something

when colorless is all the grass that hems me

in the liquid green without and so much living so little

furiously sleep green ideas with no color at all


-Translated from the Italian by Michael Moore


(from Versi e non versi, 1986)


January 28, 2023

Rachel Blau DuPlessis (USA) 1941

Rachel Blau DuPlessis (USA)


Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1941, to Joseph L Blau, a professor, and Eleanor Blau, a librarian,

Rachel Blau DuPlessis attended Barnard College, where she received her BA in 1963. She received a Master’s degree and a PhD from Columbia University in 1964 and 1970, writing for her dissertation, “The Endless Poem: Paterson of William Carlos Williams and The Pisan Cantos of Ezra Pound.”

      She became a professor, teaching literature and creative writing, at Temple University in Philadelphia in 1974, becoming a professor emerita in 2011. In 2012, she was Distinguished Vistor at University of Auckland, and she has taught also at Trenton State College, Rutgers University, Columbia University, the Université de Lille III (France) and Rijksuniversiteit-Gent (Belgium).

     Since 1985, DuPlessis began her own “endless poem,” “Drafts,” what she and others have described as a “life poem,” appearing in canto-like sections, grouped in nineteen units each in various magazines and book publications focused on themes of history, gender, mourning, and hope.

      The first two “Drafts” originally appeared in the journal Temblor and were later collected in book for as Tabula Rosa in 1987. Further volumes appeared in Drafts 1-31, Toll (2001), Drafts 39-57, Pledge, with Draft, Unnumbered: Précis (2004), Torques: Drafts 58-76 (2007), Pitch: Drafts 77-95 (2010), and Surge: Drafts 96-114 (2013).

      DuPlessis married Robert Saint-Cyr DuPlessis, the Isaac H. Clothier Professor Emeritus of History and International Relations at Swarthmore College. They have two children.

      Among her numerous awards and honors are a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, a grant from Pennsylvania Council on Arts, and a Fund for Poetry grant. In 2002 she was awarded a Pew Fellowship in the Arts and the Roy Harvey Pearce/Archive for New Poetry Prize for a lifetime contribution to American poetry and literary scholarship.

      DuPlessis has also written several publications of literary studies, including Writing Beyond the Ending: Narrative Strategies of Twentieth-Century Women Writers (1985), H.D.: The Career of that Struggle (1986), The Pink Guitar: writing as Feminist Practice (1990), Genders, Races, and Religious Cultures in Modern American Poetry, 1908-1934 (2001), Blue Studios: Poetry and Its Cultural Work (2006), and Purple Passages: Pound, Eliot, Zukofsky, Olson, Creeley, and the Ends of Patriarchal Poetry (2012). She edited The Selected Letters of George Oppen in 1990.




Wells (New York: Montemora, 1980); Gypsy / Moth (Oakland, California: Coincidence Press, 1984); Tabula Rosa (Elmwood, Connecticut: Potes and Poets Press, 1987); Draft X: Letters (Philadelphia: Singing Horse Press, 1991); Drafts 3-14 (Elmwood, Connecticut: Potes and Poets Press, 1991); Essais: Quatre poèmes (Bar-le Duc, France: Editions Créaphis, 1996); Drafts 15-XXX, The Fold (Elmwood, Connecticut: Potes and Poets Press, 1997); Renga: Draft 32 (Philadelphia: Beautiful Swimmer Press, 1998); Drafts 1-38, Toll (Middletown, Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press, 2001); Draft, Unnumbered: Précis (Vancouver, Canada: Nomados, 2003); Drafts 39-57, Pledge with Draft, Unnumbered: Précis (Cambridge, England: Salt Publishing, 2004); Torques, Drafts 58-76 (Cambridge, England: Salt Publishing, 2007); Pitch: Drafts 77-95 (Cambridge, England: Salt Publishing, 2010); The Collage Poems of Drafts (Cambridge, England: 2011); Surge: Drafts 96-114 (Cambridge, England: Salt Publishing, 2013); Interstices (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Subpress, 2014); Graphic Novella (West Lima, Wisconsin: Xexoxial Editions, 2015); Poesis (Houston, Texas: Little Red Leaves Textile Editions, 2016); Days and Works (Boise, Idaho: Ahsahta Press); Selected Poems (Tucson, Arizona: Chax Press, 2022)

Go here to read another biography and a selection from her poetry:


POETRY FOR READERS | Rachel Blau DuPlessis : Selected Poems [link]




                        Featuring books of poetry

                        and where to order them. 

today’s title:

Selected Poems

Poetry by Rachel Blau DuPlessis

order here:


January 27, 2023

Remco Campert (Netherlands) 1929-2022

Remco Campert (Netherlands)

Remco Campert has been the least inclined of the Dutch Fiftiers to lend himself to spectacular experimental expression: all his writing displays his characteristic resentment of pomposity and profundity. This has led him generally to wrap the serious, even angry nucleus of his work in easily absorbable, seemingly carefree language. Campert couples a talent for registering the most minute changes in the life around him with an obstinate integrity, a refusal to be led astray by any illusion whatsoever, which has manifested itself in a noticeable development toward great and greater directness and economy. Born in the Hague in 1929, Campert’s youth was spent—as translator James Brockway has expressed it—“amid the wreckage of war and enemy occupation, a physical and mental landscape reflected in the mood—a subdued, laconic anger—of his poetry….”   

      Campert began by publishing broadsides until he was accepted by the De Bezige Bij (Busy Bee) publishing house, a press that grew up as an underground organ of the Dutch Resistance.
       Campert has published over fifteen volumes of poetry, and has also written numerous short stories and works for the theater. His novels include Het leven is verrukkulluk (1962, Life Is Lovely), a book still popular in the Netherlands, and, in English translation, No Holds Barred (1963) and The Gangster Girl (1968). He has also translated numerous books, including the French novel Zazie dans le Metro by Raymond Queneau. In 1979 he was awarded the Dutch State Prize for Literature. 
      The works of his last years included most fiction, novels and collections of short stories, among them Een liefde in Parijs (2004), Het satijnen hart (2006), Dagboek van een poes (2007), Om vijf uur in de middag (2010), and Hôtel du Nord (2013).
        Campert died in 2022 at the age of 92.

Vierendelen (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1951); Vogels vliegen toch (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1951); Een standbeeld opwinden (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1952); Berchtesgaden (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1953); Met man en muis (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1955); Het huis waarin ik woonde (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1955); Bij hoog en bij laag (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1959); Dit gebeurde overal (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1962); Hoera, hoera (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1965); Mijn leven’s liederen (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1968); Betere tijden (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1970); Alle bundles gedichten (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1976); Theater (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1979); Collega’s (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1986); Rechterschoenen (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1992); Staatfotografie (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1994); Verspreide gedichten: 1950-1994 (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1994); Dichter (Amsterdam: De Bezige Bij, 1995) 


In the Year of the Strike, translated by John Scott and Graham Martin (London: Rapp & Whiting, 1968/Chicago: Swallow Press, 1968); This Happened Everywhere: The Selected Poems of Remco Campert, trans. by Manfred Wolf (San Francisco: Androgyne Books, 1997); selected poems in The PIP Anthology of World Poetry of the 20th Century, Volume 6: Living Space: Poems of the Dutch Fiftiers, ed. by Peter Glassgold, revised and expanded by Douglas Messerli; I Dreamed in the Cities at Night, trans. by Donald Gardner (Visible Poets, 2007); In Those Days, trans. by Donald Gardner (Shoestring Press, 2014)

January 26, 2023

POETRY FOR READERS : Nishiwaki Junzaburō : The Modern Fable




                        Featuring books of poetry 

                        and where to order them. 

today’s title:

The Modern Fable

Poetry by Nishiwaki Junzaburō

Translated from the Japanese by Hiroaki Sato

order here:


January 25, 2023

Nishiwaki Junzaburō (Japan) 1894-1982

Nishiwaki Junzaburō (Japan)


Born of a well-established family in Niigata, Nishiwaki first aspired to become a painter. He studied economics at Keiō University in Tokyo. During this period, he read extensively, particularly in foreign languages, and began writing his own work in Latin, French and English. Indeed, throughout his life, Nishiwaki often avoided the conventional use of his mother tongue, preferring instead to write for European readers.

     His first two books, Spectrum, published in England in 1925 and Poems Barbarous, published in Tokyo in 1930, were collections of English poems. Even his Japanese poems sounded, to the Japanese ear, as foreign. His 1933 collection, Ambarvalia, referred to a Roman agricultural rite, and several of his poems were influenced by Western works such as The Waste Land and Ulysses.

     Yet, for all of its European associations, Nishiwaki's poetry is extremely grounded in place names and nature that is distinctly Japanese. With his surrealist-like passages and the juxtaposition of images, moreover, he revolutionized modern Japanese poetry. In Tabibito kaerazu (1947), he returned to more Eastern traditions, using forms such as the renga and other devices more common to Japanese writing. Kindai no gūwa (1953, The Modern Fable) is one of his greatest books. In this he creates a kind of discourse between East and West, between the ancient and the modern, and between concretism and abstraction. His later works moved even more in the direction of Joyce and other radical experimenters.

     He died in 1982.


Spectrum, 1925; Poems Barbarous, 1930; Ambarvalia (Tokyo: Shii no Ki Sha 1933; revised Tokyo: Tokyo Shuppan Sha, 1947); Tabibito kaerazu (Tokyo: Tokyo Shuppan Sha, 1947); Kindai no gūwa (Tokyo: Sôgensha, 1953); Andoromeda (Tokyo: Toraiton Sha, 1955) [a revision of part of his book of 1930]; Daisan no shinwa (Tokyo: Tokyo Sōgensha, 1956); Ushinaware toki (Tokyo: Seiji Kōron Sha, 1960); Hōjō no megami (Tokyo: Sinchōsha, 1962); Eterunaitasu (Tokyo: Sinchōsha, 1962); Hōseki no nemuri (Tokyo: Chikuma Shobō, 1963); Raiki (Tokyo: Chikuma Shobō, 1967); Jōka (Tokyo: Chikuma Shobō, 1969); Rokumon (Tokyo: Chikuma Shobō, 1970); Jinrui (Tokyo: Chikuma Shobō, 1979)




The Modern Fable, trans. by Hiroaki Sato (Los Angeles: Green Integer, 2007)

Cup's Primitivism

Along the riverbank where daphnes bloom
and shine,
passing by an angel who has an apple and a saber,
a blond boy runs,
holding firmly between his fingers
a fish called red-belly
above its milk-light eyes.
The golden dream warps.

Translated from the Japanese by Hiroaki Sato

(from Ambarvalia, 1933)

A Man Who Reads Omeros

The daybreak and the twilight, quietly,
like the two sides of a gold coin,
passed through a tamarind,
and come every day to his throat.
In those days he boarded at a dyer's
on the second floor and read Omeros.
In those days he had a coral pipe
with a picture of pansies.
The Galileans all laughed (Your pipe
looks like a girl's letter or
a Byzantine romane — Uuee).
But its phosphorescent smoke circles
cockscomb bloom,
and the goddess' nose and hips.

Translated from the Japanese by Hiroaki Sato

(from Ambarvalia, 1933)

The Modern Fable

The fable at the end of April is linear.
On the peninsula the bronze wheat and aloe-green rape
were rusted like the willowy woman's robe.
One thinks; therefore, existence ceases to be.
Man's existence is after death.
When one ceases to be human one merges
with greatest existence. For now
I don't want to talk a lot.
It's simply that with the people in the poppy house
with the people doing metaphysical mythology
I take a hot bath in Ochiai where mustard grows.
I think secretly of Andromeda.
In the house beyond the willowy woman, lying on her side,
plays go with a woman.
She ponders, her hand stuck out of the front of her robe.
We philosophers gathered before the broken water wheel
and holding azalea and sweet flag in our hands
had a photo taken, had another hot bath
served ourselves an arrowhead-like liquor
and immersed all night in geometrical thoughts.
I think of a friend of the days
when we talked about Beddoes' suicide theory
as we climbed the D_genzaka, and also thinking
about the white-haired Einstein walking
in an American village, I cannot sleep.
I run along the Nekko river alone.
Early in the morning I walk the white road to an inn at Seko.
A damson tree with white blossoms stands
crooked at the roadside. I turn toward a bush warbler's
song and see blossoms of mountain cherries already fallen.
Pale violets clinging to rocks cattails
dropped in great masses in the mist.
My hair has turned badger-gray.
All of a sudden an Ophelian thought:
wild strawberry vetch buttercups wild roses
violets I picked
I hold this full bourquet with a pencil in my hand
for the willowy woman for the never-ending love
for a curses of Pascal's and Rilke's women
and for this water spirit.

Translated from the Japanese by Hiroaki Sato

(from Kindai no gūwa, 1953)

The Winter Day

What age was it when they made this garden?
There aren't many
who walk this road
but in this valley where giant elms
twist their branches into the sky
I pick the seeds of wild roses
for your gourd.
Liquor may be exhausted but dreams spurt on endlessly.
Dangling a string of empty cups from my forefinger
brows raised and like a breeze
I go with a man to the blue sea
On a day like this the biologist
wearing the pear-colored tie
tells heartless stories
of sea anemones and wild grapes.
In the moonlight that Neptune casts
in weather like this, quite unseen
another god of gonzui
splits solemnly.
Thus imagining gaudy matters
smoking my hackberry pipe
I ran toward the Meguro station to see the winter festival.
Near the station at a house called Scipio
an old woman was playing the flute
From behind me a boy pulled at my mantle dyed purplish indigo
with grass green lining.
"Mackerel pike and chestnuts are out of season but would you
please honor us by dropping in
my master says.
Mr. Socrates is here too."
This is the beginning of
Plato's Republic.

Translated from the Japanese by Hiroaki Sato

(from Kindai no gūwa, 1953)

Winter Day

In the desolate season
I roamed
the horizon of the endless mind
and strayed into a village
a hawthorn hedge set around it.
A vagabond cooks dog meat on a fire
from which a purple cloud flows away.
The man who sang at summer's end the song of roses
grieves over this heart's ruination.
The seed collector, the bulbul, does not talk.
I will study in this village, with a lamp on
"Study like Milton"
whispers an angel like a university president.
And yet I ended up playing chess with a hunter and a fisherman
until the bush put on pear-like blossoms.
Now that I've lost everything
I'd like to consecrate this evening
to the person who circles the hedge
playing with butterflies
to the kingfisher and the man that strays in
to the eternal woman
to this winter day
putting in a cup with a long handle like a lofty tower
the haws and the tears.

Translated from the Japanese by Hiroaki Sato

(from Kindai no gūwa, 1953)

Atalanta's Calydon

the flash of the day one discovers
tigers among the stones of
the garden where oniyuri bloom
one discovers lilies among roses
ah this lovely summer afternoon
among wild roses of the hedge
the Dorian puts on his head a scarlet-lacquered
wooden cup and dances
sufferings of mankind
under the snow
a scouring rush
a woman comes up the stone steps
to play chess
through the rear gate

the Fukazawa matron
all her life in a faded pink waist-cloth
brazen as a wolf
for her cheekbones
I give her a plate Picasso made

spring comes to Snow Woman's garden
I give the woman
who wore purple stockings while alive
Tales of Ise translated into Arabian

autumn haze
black fruit of trifoliate orange
gust of dust
dream's sufferings
the Yase road reminds one of past and present
fruit of wild rose sag over a rock
to the old person, a woman,
who had matsutake for a souvenir
a city student used a startling word
soon a snowy night
boars wreck the radish garden
bulbuls eat nandin seeds
but all day long drinking from a gourd
I talked with Mr. Sakurai about plums
then while I sit by a foot-warmer
and read Ptolemy's astronomical book
jagged yellow flowers bloom
from bitter roots by the Yase road
a blue-green snake shiny with rain
coils around a hawthorn tree
the philosophy of rose and lily comes into being
rose fragrance wafts over narcissus
man smells of chrysanthemum
when man discards vegetable relations
does he become like a wire
self and self
self and wild rose
self and lover
self and God
self and eternity
Gourmont sticks out his tongue in the curtain
self as a wild rose
lover as a wild rose
eternity as a wild rose

Picasso the man
discovers a boy in a plate
discovers a palte in a boy
discovers man in a wild rose
a wild rose in man
love of wild rose is
the wild rose's emotion in man
man as a wild rose
wild rose as man
life has split into wild rose and man
but still its memory stains
the marriage between wild rose and man
looking in this hedge
a woman, her garden

Translated from the Japanese by Hiroaki Sato

(from Kindai no gūwa, 1953)


Over the granite
spring has come
in the mountain depths of Jōshū
plum blossoms white
about the 20th of March.
on my way from funeral rites
I hurry toward the capital
the dead person's laughing
born of a rose
behind trumpet lilies
now I can only read Aesop's Fables
except I shouldn't read those sermons
there's the wonderful pastoral tragedy
to the greatness of that nameless
illustrator I consecrate carnations mimosa
freesia violets
here's a man in a triangular hood,
in briefs, wearing
a dagger, fishing,
the costume of which ethnic group is this
neither a Greek nor a Malay
that I should have never
thought about it before
it's a costume for a children's book
by an English illustrator during the Ansei era
harvesting wheat with a sickle like a crescent
and surprising skylarks
a man and a bass talking
a fox and a stork stand talking
vagabonds and travelers loitering
pricked by a thorn in a hedge
wasp locus ant water jar
wind sun grapes adder
ancient oak drowning child
a tower looking distorted in the distance

Translated from the Japanese by Hiroaki Sato

(from Kindai no gūwa, 1953)

Stripping of Iphigenia


color of hawthorn,
lilac of lilac,
blonde of hair,
the masculine woman

gasoline's crystal
metamorhposis, that line
weak-kneedly becomes a rose


head and arms
the mass of stone, the dent
on its ass, its history
the fluffly bundle of blonde hair
ends in the middle
sticks to the back and remains
the severed Babylonian goddess' lust
thought's emotion
comes from nowhere
comes a pitiful summer
as a bee comes to grape flowers


scraping the window
the acorn cup and thorns
"I've never been in love
but a man's voice and form
have been haunting me for the last two days"
the auntie who wrote me this
is worried

—Translated from the Japanese by Hiroaki Sato

(from Kindai no gūwa, 1953)


Under the lacquer-
growing bank
the woodcarver turns his wheel
enshrines a woman the white mountain goddess
and loves the demon's ladle
that grows in the oak's thighs.
The man drinks cheap tea in his office
and keeps skylarks and sparrows
in his house; his summer
by hell time is noon.
This man of sorrows
in the shadow
like grouse plumage
carves bowls for
to pile salads in.
Ladles too.

Until an arrow
stabs the heart,
turn quietly.
The tube
that loiters
around the wood spirit
tries to grown wings
and fly away
toward the light on the horizon.
The sound of the Wood Star
tickles the navel
of a tired man
on the bridge.
Man's last laughter
reaches the modern man
walking on the riverbed.
This protruding navel's
last laugh
both the stone clouded with reed warblers' shit
and the acacia thorns.
The god's lone laugh
boils his last tea
for the disappointed tired man
leaning on the bridge rail.
This god's blessing,
this last joy
of man.

Translated from the Japanese by Hiroaki Sato

(from Hōseki no nemuri, 1963)


"Cup's Primitivism," "A Man Who Reads Omeros," "The Modern Fable," "The Winter Day," "Winter Day," "Atalanta's Calydon," "Sorrow," "Stripping of Iphigenia," and "Bowls"
Reprinted from The Modern Fable (Los Angeles: Green Integer 2007), trans. by Hiroaki Sato. English language translation ©Hiroaki Sato, 2007. Reprinted by permission Hiroaki Sato and Green Integer.