New Work: Ōsaki, Yotsumoto, Williamson, Taguchi

All we want to do is keep making books, bringing new works of contemporary poetry from Asia Pacific to readers. Help us publish four new collections of poetry from Japan and Australia in early 2023.

Who are we?
We're a small literary press based in Sydney, Australia. For two decades we have published a range of established and emerging poets from Australia, Asia-Pacific, and elsewhere. Our books have won most of the major literary prizes for poetry in Australia, been praised by critics and taught at universities around the world.

We love making books. For twenty years we have been devoted to fostering new writing and increasing the range and diversity of Australian literature and bringing literature from Asia Pacific to English-language readers for the first time. We have taken risks and published books that otherwise would not have been published.

What will this campaign do?
This campaign will support the publication of five new collections of poetry, three from Japan and two from Australia:

Sayaka Ōsaki's Noisy Animal, translated by Jeffrey Angles
Yasuhiro Yotsumoto's Starboard of My Wife, translated by Takako Lento
Caroline Williamson's Time Machines
Inuo Taguchi's Haydn Morning, translated by Takako Lento

Funding will contribute to the production costs of four collections of poetry from Australia and Japan: Australian poet Caroline Williamson's debut collection Time Machines; the debut collection in English by one of the rising stars of contemporary Japanese poetry, Noisy Animal by Sayaka Ōsaki, translated from Japanese by Yomiuri-Award-winning poet and translator Jeffrey Angles; and, two collections translated from Japanese by Takako Lento, longtime friend and collaborator with the press, Yasuhiro Yotsumoto's Starboard of My Wife and a new collection of poetry from Inuo Taguchi, Haydn Morning.

We've stripped the budget back as far as we can. We'll be doing a lot of the work for free. We recently received $1000 when Emilie Collyer (published thanks to an earlier fundraiser like this one!) won the 5 Islands Poetry Prize. That'll go straight to helping cover costs. The campaign budget covers design, production, shipping, and author advances.

Why GoFundMe?
It's hard asking for help, but we stubbornly want to keep making books.

Poetry publishing is not a business. We wish it was. The readership is too small. Unlike many other presses or arts institutions our size, we don't have institutional support from a university or corporate benefactors. We are the only press of our size and impact in Australia without a staff of interns, assistants, editors etc, to keep everything running.

Funding for publishing poetry, and especially poetry in translation, is scarce. Without small press publishing, much of contemporary poetry would never be published. Without poetry, many new connections across language and culture would never be made. Without poetry, the way we see the world and the language we use would be less, not as wildly possible and free as poetry at its best offers.

Why it matters
We believe poetry is a vital part of contemporary culture, an engine room of ideas and linguistic innovation where new ways and strategies to perceive, know, express and respond to the world we live in are forged. Literature in translation is a vital part of contemporary culture, especially in the Asia Pacific where the need for communication and engagement across cultures and languages has never been more important.

Every donation counts.
By donating, you will bring new poetry into the world, expanding the space for new voices in English and ideas to find readers. You will be adding to contemporary literature, making it richer, more open and more expansive, by helping to bring new voices to readers.

We like to sing the praises of our supporters and will do so listing each donor by name (or as anonymous if preferred) on our website, and we will make it clear inside the books themselves that the books exist thanks to the generosity of our readers and supporters.

We want to get the books out at the start of 2023. Help us hit our campaign goal, so we can head to press. By supporting us, you become a vital part of the process. You'll have widened the conversation, helped keep us publishing and brought more poetry and wild imagination into the world.


MORE ABOUT THE BOOKS AND THE WRITERS AND TRANSLATORS

Ōsaki Sayaka, Noisy Animal
Translated by Jeffrey Angles

'Language is the first disaster that humanity experiences. Language is the violence that we, as people, continue to experience every day. We experience this disaster, this violence, and, yet babies still begin to speak, unable to keep quiet. They repeat somebody else’s words just as they are, reproducing the form of someone else’s experience with disaster. As a result, I do not know where “this disaster” begins, nor where it ends.' Ōsaki Sayaka

Noisy Animal will be the first collection published in English by one of the rising stars of Japanese poetry, Sayaka Ōsaki, who describes herself as a noisy animal, one 'that walks about speaking endlessly.' Introducing Ōsaki on Poetry International, fellow poet Yasuhiro Yotsumoto writes: 'The world of Ōsaki’s poems is underlaid with silence, an eerie quietness that is at once soothing and disturbing. Through this silence, we nonetheless hear an echo of the Great East Asian earthquake and the subsequent tsunami and nuclear disaster which took place in Japan in 2011, at the time Ōsaki was making her debut ... In the poet's mind, the natural disaster seems to be associated with the very concept of language ... The silence in Ōsaki's poems, however, is also soothing. It reminds us of the deeper silence that existed before this world came into being and that will remain after we are all gone ... Sayaka Ōsaki writes in a simple, everyday language but penetrates the surface of this time and space and reaches the depths of mythology that underlie our ordinary lives. Her poems are personal yet socially relevant at the same time. Among the current generation of young Japanese poets, who tend to be content to remain inside each one's individual micro-cosmos, she is a unique epic poet, speaking of this world, she writes on her web site, with the senses and body of a “noisy animal”.' (Source: Poetry International)

Expertly and sensitively translated by Yomiuri-Award-winning poet Jeffrey Angles, Noisy Animal presents a noisy, insightful, vibrant new voice to the world from the emerging generation of Japanese poets.

Ōsaki Sayaka has produced diverse collaborations with dancers, musicians, contemporary artists, and other poets and often represents Japan at international literary festivals. In 2016 her first book for children Hey leaf, where is your home? was published. Her second collection, Pointing Impossible (Seidosha, 2014), won the Nakahara Chūya Prize in 2014, and was followed by New Habitat (2018) and Freedom of Dance (2021). Ōsaki has been invited to international festivals in Lithuania (2015), Ecuador (2017), Cuba (2018), China (2018) and the Netherlands (2019). Some of her poems have been translated into English, Spanish and Lithuanian.

Jeffrey ANGLES is a poet, translator, and professor of Japanese literature at Western Michigan University. His collection of original Japanese-language poetry won the Yomiuri Prize for Literature, a rare honor accorded only a few non-native speakers since the award began in 1949. He has translated dozens of translations of Japan’s most important modern authors and poets into English. He also believes strongly in the role of translators as activists and has focused on translating socially engaged, feminist, and queer writers. Among his recent translations is Orikuchi Shinobu’s modernist classic, The Book of the Dead (which won two awards for translation, the Miyoshi Prize and the MLA’s Scaglione Prize) and the feminist writer Itō Hiromi’s long novel The Thorn-Puller.

Yotsumoto Yasuhiro, Starboard of My Wife
Translated by Takako Lento

A Japanese couple lives in Germany. The husband is moved to explore their love – and their otherness – in a series of poems where the external and internal landscapes are equally foreign. The displaced narrator’s perspective accommodates the sensual and the mundane, boredom and anxiety, familial stress and personal longing. Starboard of My Wife is a modern take on a 1500-year-old Japanese tradition of poems exchanged between lovers, first seen in Manyōshū (the earliest anthology of Japanese poetry, assembled in 759 AD). His portrayal of the life of an ordinary middle-aged couple is at once analytical, romantic, and existential. This is love poetry for the modern world, as innovative as it is captivating.

‘Yotsumoto’s achievement appears in the ease with which the everyday, the earthy, the dream-like, and the bizarrely imagined all glide into each other, are there with a careful equality. The calm of the poem, the tone of everyday realism with no craving for effect, makes the image of the last two lines so startling: “silence” this “strange animal” brought so lovingly back from the grave.’ Peter Boyle

Yotsumoto Yasuhiro was born 1959. Poet, novelist, essayist, and translator, he has published 15 collections of poetry, including A Laughing Bug (1991), The World Congress of Middle Aged (2002), Afternoon of Forbidden Words, (2003), Prisoner of Japanese (2012), Drip Drop Monotony, Sloppily, Wildly (2017), Novel (2017), Free Solo (2020) and Europe, Europe! (2022). Yotsumoto’s poetry has won the Yamamoto Kenichi Award, Hagiwara Sakutaro Award and the Ayukawa Nobuo Award.

Takako Lento translates poetry and prose from Japanese to English and vice versa, her most recent collections being Shuntarō Tanikawa’s Ordinary People (2021) and Shinkawa Kazue’s Selected Poems (2021), both with Vagabond Press, along with Tamura Ryūichi, on the Life and Work of a 20th Century Master (co-ed. Wayne Miller); The Art of Being Alone: Tanikawa Shuntarō, Poems 1952 – 2009; Collected Haiku of Yosa Buson (with W.S. Merwin); Pioneers of Modern Japanese Poetry, and Butterfly by Kashiwagi Mari. She lives in the United States.

Caroline Williamson, Time Machines
Time Machines is the debut collection of poetry from Australian poet Caroline Williamson. At once acerbic and generously hearted, Williamson's poems carefully shape and form the everyday and personal into a meditation on the economic and political systems and the personalities that govern us. Through finely wrought narrative poems, Williamson vividly renders contemporary Melbourne in all its life as these same systems buckle and strain under the pandemic, the evolving climate catastrophe, and the hubris and incompetence of our political leaders. Williamson's poetry deftly and unapologetically, with insight and heart, explores while the personal is political, the political is also personal, holding the forces and individuals that govern us to account. This long-awaited debut collection brings a vital new voice to contemporary Australian poetry.

'From long memory and forensic daily observation Caroline Williamson makes new poetry of the long poem – with intelligence and impressive fluency she forms marvellous contrapuntal narratives. Whether she is recalling her coal-mining grandfather, or deriding our politicians for incompetence (or worse), even when struggling with economic theory (like most of us) the personal and the political are freed from the cliches of poetry and strike instead with a bracing immediacy. She is a natural ironist. Her writing is elegant but understated, deeply felt but utterly devoid of melodrama even when she is worrying away at climate change and Covid and the everyday contingencies of contemporary life beyond the headlines. She is determined to see things clearly, and she does.' Philip Salom

Caroline Williamson is a poet and editor. She was born in London, and worked there and in Beijing as a teacher, before turning her hand to editing: academic books, museum publications, and a campaigning anti-nuclear magazine. She moved to Melbourne with her Australian partner, where she has worked at Lonely Planet, Museum Victoria and Melbourne University Publishing. Her poems have been published in journals including Overland, Meanjin, Heat, Rabbit and Cordite, in a number of Newcastle Prize anthologies, and in Contemporary Australian Feminist Poetry (ed. Bonnie Cassidy and Jessica Wilkinson). Her essay 'Working Methods: Painting, Poetry and the difficulty of Barbara Guest', based on her masters minor thesis, was published in Jacket magazine #36. Time Machines is her debut collection.

Taguchi Inuo, Haydn Morning
Translated by Takako Lento.

Haydn Morning is the fifth collection by one of Japan’s most unique contemporary poets, arriving over a decade since his last collection, St. Francis’ Birds (2008). Why did it take twelve long years? Taguchi explains: I can give a few reasons, but the major issue was my health, which presented me with medically inexplicable disorders. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, ‘Every wall is a door.’ For me my illness turned out to be the door. It took more than ten years for it to open. (It appeared totally different from the way ‘a door’ looks.) So what Haydn Morning brings you is the world on the other side of that door. I hope you will explore what I saw, as you page through this book. Looking forward to meeting you ‘beyond the door’!

Sometimes armoured with wit and humor, sometimes with painful innocence and sincerity, Taguchi writes for those who don’t usually read poetry but whose souls may be in need of it.

Taguchi Inuo (whose pen name literally means Dog Man) was born in 1967, a few years after the Tokyo Olympics that would herald the end of the ‘post-war’ years and the start of an economic boom in Japan. He grew up in Tokyo, able to enjoy those days of the booming economy, but it was only after Japan hit rockier times economically that he started writing poetry. Taguchi’s work stood in distinct contrast to the mainstream Japanese poetry of his time. While the poems of his contemporaries were seriously intellectual, his were light, concrete and precise, and intelligent. Taguchi’s first collection, 20th-Century Orphan, came out in 1995. His second collection, General Moo (2000), won the prestigious Takami Jyun Award, followed by Armadillogic (2002); and St. Francis’ Birds (2008).
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Vagabond Press
Organizer
Marrickville NSW

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