Spectacle & Pigsty, Selected Poems of Kiwao Nomura translated by Kyoko Yoshida & Forrest Gander, Omnidawn Publishers


WINNER: Best Translated Book Award, 2012

CITED as one of three books for which Kiwao Nomura is awarded The 2012 Rekitei Prize for Poetry

"Particularly salient is
Spectacle & Pigsty, his selected poems in English translation that won the Best Translated Book Award in poetry in 2012. This is a superb anthology of Kiwao Nomura and it is the best possible translation one could hope for. There has never been poetry in Japanese that exhibited such affinities in the English language. This is a proof that his poetry is open to the wide world."
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Famous for electrifying performances of his work, Kiwao Nomura is revered in Japan where he has been awarded major literary honors including the Rekitei Prize for Young Poets and the prestigious Takami Jun Prize. His inspired work as a writer, editor, performer, organizer, and critic has altered the landscape of contemporary Japanese literature. Two cds of his readings with musicians have generated a following in both Japan and France.

Nomura’s work is iconoclastic—at once playful and heady, saturated by his interest in philosophy, Japanese shamanism, music and art. A poem ostensibly about a pigsty and Oedipal fixation incorporates references to Nietzsche and French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas in such a way as to suggest the pigsty as a metaphor for self and poem. (Nomura’s insistent syntactical conjunction of “pigsty” and “I” underscores this metaphor). Throughout his work, Nomura overlays the visible world of criss-crossing streets with the microscopic world of “nerve ants,” refusing to acknowledge any fundamental difference between cosmic and molecular, far and near, moment and whole, instant and eternity. His poetics, as such, run current with the writings of philosopher Gilles Deleuze, whose books (on cinema and on Nietzsche, in particular) stress the importance of intuition and insight as a means for disrupting our creatural habits. Both Deleuze and Nomura envision reality as ceaseless movement and invention.

The longest sequence included here is based on a pilgrimage to the place where Kunikida Doppo, a celebrated poet from the turn of the century, once lived. Stylistically, the poem takes place in what French theorist Guy Debord might call “Situationist Drift.” Doppo’s lodge site is real in as much as it is a historical marker of the spot where Doppo once lived, but it is not real, since the lodge collapsed long ago and the city of Tokyo has risen around its ruin. While the poem’s speaker ambles through the city toward the lodge site in order to pay homage to the old poet, he remembers Doppo’s poems and wrestles with the continuous, even “infinite” presence of the past in the obliterations and transformations of the present. As his meditation intensifies, he gradually releases himself from the impossible ambition of arriving at any meaning small enough to be nested in the toponym (as Nomura calls it) or manifestation (as Deleuze calls it), “Doppo’s Lodge.” Instead, the sojourning poet submits himself to chance encounters and perceptions, following the Deleuzian insight that “All becomes clear . . . if, beyond these manifestations, we aim our quest at Life itself.” Along the way to the site of Doppo’s lodge, a fabulous weave of recurring talismanic terms, wild shifts in tonal register, and word play keep both pilgrim-poet and reader alert and in thrall.

Read Reviews Here
(by clicking on the publications below):

At Publishers Weekly
At
Lana Turner: a Journal of Poetry & Opinion
At
Something on Paper by Eric Selland
At
The Rumpus by T. Fleischmann
At
Prick the Spindle by Tim Kahl
At Press 1 by Thomas Fink
At
Third Factory by Sawako Nakayasu
Discussion, videos, and more at Tongue
At
Who Killed Demmy Caution
Interview by Rusty Morrison at Prick of the Spindle