This is a forum for discussions of Japanese Modernist and contemporary poetry and poetics, as well as all other related interests. It features articles and essays on Japanese poetry, translations, book reviews, discussions of translation theory and method, and writing on other contemporary Japanese arts. The title, New Modernism, also refers to the need to go back to the Modernists to find new material for future explorations now that Postmodernism is over. The importance of translation as a means to a poetics in Modernism, as well as the tendency to create cultural hybrids is especially important here.

Eric Selland is a poet and translator based in Tokyo, Japan. His translations of Modernist and contemporary Japanese poets have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies. He has also published articles on Japanese Modernist poetry and translation theory.  His translation of The Guest Cat, by Takashi Hiraide, was on the New York Times bestseller list in 2014. He is the author of The Condition of Music (Sink Press, 2000), Inventions (Seeing Eye Books, 2007), Still Lifes (Hank’s Original Loose Gravel Press, 2011), Arc Tangent (Isobar Press, 2013), and Beethoven’s Dream (Isobar Press, 2015).


10 Responses to “About”

  1. Jon Spayde Says:

    Eric, this blog is fascinating and very welcome. I’ve long been interested in Japanese modernist literature and culture–I was at one time training to teach it, but my life took a journalistic/poetic turn. (Miriam Silverberg was a dear friend from college days.)

    I appreciate in particular being introduced to Hiraide Takashi, and your analysis of his debts to both Blanchot and Benjamin is very illuminating. I have always resonated with the récit-approach to poetic writing–the prose “field” that welcomes anything and elides generic boundaries–and it is wonderful to experience such a subtle practitioner as Hiraide.

    Jon Spayde

    • ericselland Says:

      Thanks Jon. It’s nice to hear from you. I haven’t been able to get much new up lately, but I owe book reviews to a number of people, including Myriam Sas who you also may know. Her new book on postwar Japanese performance is terrific. As for Hiraide, there is a book available on New Directions translated by Sawako Nakayasu. This is The Fighting Spirit of the Walnut, which I believe I’ve commented on in the past (take a look through older posts). I’ll try to get more information up in the coming months but I’ve just been flooded with translation work (the non-poetic kind). By the way, the internet based magazine Big Bridge will be having a special contemporary Japanese poetry issue in the near future. Some translations I did of Takagai Hiroya and Sekiguchi Ryoko will be included (I think there’ll be ten poets in all).
      Well, thanks again, and keep in touch!

  2. Andy Houwen Says:

    Dear Eric,

    Thank you for this fascinating blog. I am starting a doctoral thesis at the moment on the publication of post-war Japanese poetry in the UK and am interviewing various involved parties. I would really like to talk to you in more detail about modern Japanese poetry and its translation/publication if you have the time. I will give my e-mail address below, please do contact me if you can.
    Best wishes,

  3. Andy Houwen Says:

    Dear Eric,
    Thank you for putting up this very useful and informative blog. I’m currently starting a doctoral thesis that relates to the translation of modern Japanese poetry in the UK. It would be great to get in touch with you about your translation work and your thoughts on modern/contemporary Japanese poetry. I’ve left my email below, please do get in touch.
    Best wishes,

  4. Andy Houwen Says:

    Apologies for double-post, I thought the first one hadn’t worked!

  5. Michael Branch Says:

    Eric – I stumbled across your blog as I search for some contemporary Japanese poetry to use in conjunction with Banana Yoshimoto’s Kitchen, which I am teaching in my junior literature course at the Shanghai American School. Would you be able to recommend 4-7 poems that might be: 1) a good starting place for Japanese poetry and 2) accessible to high school students? Thanks!

    • ericselland Says:

      Dear Michael,

      I’ll try and think of something. I do mostly avant-garde myself, which might be jumping off the deep end for high school students, unless they are a group that is especially open to new things and willing to thing in a non-linear fashion. I also have a smattering of Ryoichi Wago’s twitter poems sent from Fukushima after the nuclear disaster. I think a number of people have translated selections from that including Jeremy Angles. There is also another website which introduces modern Japanese poetry (I might have a link here but not sure). Perhaps switching to regular e-mail or connecting on Facebook would make communication easier than this, and I can introduce you to some other translators that way as well.

      • Michael Branch Says:

        Thanks Eric. Yeah, for these high schoolers, they will be more successful with some more ‘traditional’ modern poetry vs. the avant-garde stuff. But, they are willing to look at texts in new ways, so if some of the poetry you work with you think might be great for 16 year olds to read, let’s do it. Let’s continue via email. Thanks!

  6. Linda Yamada Says:

    Happy to have just found you.
    Long timer here in Hamamatsu,
    Long timer of arts/ literature , no matter the culture , seeing it all share that same humanity.
    I visit Tokyo once a month- do you meet at cafes and meet new people, give informal talks?
    Just an attempt at a random chance to meet and speak with you.
    For now, about to order your books on Amazon… thank you for your work and gift

    • ericselland Says:

      Linda –
      Thanks! Happy you found the blog and were interested. I don’t have any regular gatherings associated with the blog, though I do attend poetry readings when I can and do an occasional reading of my own. Check out the Isobar Press site (Paul Rossiter) for more info on poetry in English in Japan. Paul will be at the Japan Writers Conference in Tokyo on October 8-9 and so will I, though not until evening of the 8th. Isobar arranges readings by its authors a couple of times per year. And look for me on Facebook. As for informal and random visits, you can do that any time. Just let me know (regular e-mail eselland@sellandtrans.com.
      P.S. Do you know Jane Nakagawa? She’s currently located in Shizuoka.

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