[Poetry Friday] Finding Misuzu Kaneko’s “Stars and Dandelions” in “Are You An Echo?”

poetry friday

Myra here.

I am glad to be joining the Poetry Friday community this week, hosted today by Keri Recommends.

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For the first two months of the year, we are determined to pay tribute to the best of the best in books published in 2016. It’s a good thing that there are quite a number of really great poetry books we can feature in the coming weeks.


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Are You An Echo? The Lost Poetry Of Misuzu Kaneko

Poems by: Misuzu Kaneko Narrative by: David Jacobson Translations and Editorial Contributions by: Sally Ito & Michiko Tsuboi Illustrated by: Toshikado Hajiri
Published by: Chin Music Press, 2016
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

This book is a veritable labour of love. It is seen and smelled from within the pages: from Setsuo Yazaki’s initial quest to find out more about the very elusive Misuzu Kaneko – this, after falling deeply in love with her poem Big Catch – to the painstaking and very deliberate selection of her poetry positioned throughout the retelling of her life story narrative.

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I believe that this is what sets the story apart from other poetry books. There is a quiet to the narrative that allowed Misuzu’s voice to come forth through her verse that empathized with the entire world around her: imbuing the fishes in the ocean with emotions, even telephone poles have feelings for this quiet woman who read voraciously.

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What was very clear to me as I was reading the book is that Misuzu was an old, compassionate soul who loved deeply. I hurt inside upon realizing just how sad and tragic her life was. I felt that her suicide was portrayed so sensitively, respectfully, and so delicately – that absolutely no one could not fail to be moved by her self-sacrifice and her fervent devotion to her child: young and old alike.

There are so many beautiful poems included in this loving tribute to Misuzu Kaneko’s life. She has a distinct voice that renders beauty in simplicity, depth in such distilled language. She made poetry look so easy, but it’s evident that she drew from a wellspring of not just sadness, but also an abiding faith and love directed towards everything around her. This week, I wanted to share a snapshot of her “echoing” verse with you as she gave voice to that which is not there, believing that they remain, albeit unseen.

You can’t see them, but they are there.

Unseen things are still there.

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11 Comments on [Poetry Friday] Finding Misuzu Kaneko’s “Stars and Dandelions” in “Are You An Echo?”

  1. This sounds like such a lovely book. I’m excited to check it out!

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  2. Such beautiful poetry. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Since I was a Cybils judge, I had the privilege of reading this book, via e-book. I hope to read a hard copy sometime soon, on hold from my library-lots of holds! It is a poignant story, isn’t it? And how wonderful that her poems were found and published, and now brought out in this book, too. Thanks, Myra, as she wrote “Unseen things are still there.”

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  4. Such heartbreakingly beautiful words.

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  5. Myra, this is gorgeous. I had it on my tbr shelf because I had read about it somewhere (probably here!). Now, seeing this poem and reading about the book again, I’ve bumped it up and put it on reserve at the library. “Unseen things are still there.” Thanks for sharing this lovely work today!

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  6. What a beautiful poem. Thank you for sharing a poet-both her life and work–that is new to me. I will take the line “unseen things are still there” through the day with me.

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  7. A haunting poem, Myra – I’ll have to search this book out to read the rest.

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  8. I’ve heard lots about this book. Thanks for giving us another highlight!

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  9. Keri Collins Lewis // January 15, 2017 at 4:34 am // Reply

    This poem reminds me of the acorn theory from The Soul’s Code — the belief in the unseen things!

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  10. I need to find this book. That poem is extraordinary.

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  11. Thank you so much, Myra, for featuring our book, “Are You an Echo?”! We are thrilled that we have been able to bring Misuzu’s words to so many people around the world.

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