New Books in Translation: Killing Kanoko, by Itoh Hiromi

KILLING KANOKO: SELECTED POEMS OF HIROMI ITO Translated by Jeffrey Angles (Notre Dame, IN: Action Books, 2009) ISBN 978-0979975547 ($16)

I want to get rid of or kill Kanoko
Before she spills my blood…
Congratulations on your destruction
Congratulations on your destruction

These words come from “Killing Kanoko,” one of the most controversial and dramatic poems of contemporary Japan. Published in 1985, this poem conveys Japanese poet Hiromi Ito’s exhaustion as a mother and her thoughts of infanticide. Ito was subsequently pilloried by the popular press for her writing, while feminist writers held her up as a hero, praising her for her bold and unflinching exploration of the dark, emotional underside of motherhood. The collection _Killing Kanoko: Selected Poems of Hiromi Ito_ includes this famous poem, as well as many other exuberantly transgressive poems exploring gender, sexuality, language and the female body.

Hiromi Ito, born in 1955, is one of the most important contemporary poets and novelists in Japan. To date she has published over a dozen critically acclaimed collections of poetry, several novels and numerous essays. She has won many important Japanese literary prizes including the Takami Jun Prize, Hagiwara Sakutaro Prize, and the Izumi Shikibu Prize. She currently resides near San Diego with her partner and daughters.

Many critics have credited Ito’s dramatically direct poetry and psychological sophistication as singlehandedly igniting a wave of “women’s poetry” that radically transformed that people wrote about the body and physical desire in contemporary Japan. This book of English translations, rendered by Jeffrey Angles (winner of the 2009 Japan-US Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature), makes her most famous, dramatic, and historically important work available to the English-speaking public.

Ito is also well known for her radical experiments with the Japanese language, producing writing that forces the unsaid into the realm of the spoken and that returns to the voice to poetry. For this reason, she has often been lauded as a “shamaness of poetry” or a poet who exemplifies Hélène Cixous’ notion of écriture féminine.

The book is available through as well as the Action Books website. For a limited time, the book will be on sold at a reduced, promotional price through the website

See more poem samples here:

Jeffrey Angles ジェフリー・アングルス
Associate Professor, Japanese Literature and Translation Studies Department of Foreign Languages, Western Michigan University


One Response to “New Books in Translation: Killing Kanoko, by Itoh Hiromi”

  1. Jeffrey Angles Says:

    Thanks, Eric, for posting this!

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