Kaneko , M. (2016). Are You An Echo? Seattle: Chin Music Press Inc.
edited by by David Jacobson, Sally Ito, and Michiko Tsuboi
I’m going to start with the drawings so they don’t get lost. Toshikado Hajiri’s illustrations in the children’s picturebook, Are You An Echo? are beautiful and make me stop long enough to recognize the beauty not only in the pictures, but before me in my life. Fitting, for the poetry of Misuzu Kaneko is childlike, clear, and feels strong enough to stop time.
It was powerful enough to make Setsuo Yazaki research sixteen years for the Kaneko’s lost poetry. For all he could find was a poem that delighted him. How could someone understand how fish felt? Big Catch:
At sunrise, glorious sunrise
it’s a big catch!
A big catch of sardines!
On the beach, it’s like a festival
but in the sea, they will hold funerals
for the tens of thousand dead.
This mash-up of biography and poetry is unconventional but necessary Jacobson explains, to tell the story of Misuzu’s life properly. Be forewarned, it may be a beautiful book, but it confronts serious issues. Wow, what a slice of history, of life, of the universe, captured.
PS HAPPY NATIONAL POETRY MONTH!