Westlake was born on Maui and raised on the island of O ahu, where he attended Punahou School, and later the University of Oregon. He earned his B.A. in Chinese studies at the University of Hawai i. At the time of his tragic death in 1984, Westlake was at the height of his poetic career. Unfortunately, the only collection of his poems available at the time was a 32-page, limited edition chapbook independently published by a small press. The present volume, long overdue, includes nearly two hundred of Westlake s poems most unavailable to the public or never before published."
The 131 poems collected in this first-of-its-kind anthology are so glaringly awful that they embody a kind of genius. From Fred Emerson Brooks' "The Stuttering Lover" to Matthew Green's "The Spleen" to Georgia Bailey Parrington's misguided "An Elegy to a Dissected Puppy", they mangle meter, run rampant over rhyme, and bludgeon us into insensibility with their grandiosity, anticlimax, and malapropism.
Guaranteed to move even the most stoic reader to tears (of laughter), Very Bad Poetry is sure to become a favorite of the poetically inclined (and disinclined).
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Shimao's fiction covers a wide range of topics: the war and its aftermath, the unconscious, the nuclear family, madness, the position of women, the culture of Japan's southern islands. Shimao's experiences as a survivor of a kamikaze unit underscore much of his literature and resulted in a series of compelling short stories unique in modern fiction. Many of these early, critically acclaimed works, including the classic Everyday Life in a Dream, are based on the narrative logic of the unconscious. Mad Wives and Island Dreams contextualizes these dream stories as a literary expression of wartime trauma and argues that Shimao's powerful narration of guilt and victimization challenges standard readings of Japanese war literature.
Shimao's most popular works are the byosaimono (literally stories of a sick wife), which chronicle the real-life crisis of his wife's madness in the mid-1950s. Among these is the writer's best-known work, the 1977 novel Shi no toge (The sting of death), widely recognized as one of the masterpieces of Japanese literature. The novel further explores Shimao's literature of the victimizer and wartime experience while revealing a feminist perspective that explores links between the suppressed aspirations of women and madness. Perhaps, most importantly, just as the novel examines the relationship between the wife, Miho, and her southern island roots, Shi no toge parallels Shimao's growing concern over the culture of marginalized regions and notions of cultural diversity-a concern that would eventually result in the Yaponesia essays.
In Mad Wives and Island Dreams, Gabriel succeeds in linking all of the seemingly disparate strands within Shimao's oeuvre--the war stories, the byosaimono, the dream stories, the Yaponesia writings-categories all too often discussed in isolation. He shows convincingly that together they represent a consistent and concerted attempt to depict the existence of the Other, the significant periphery of a less than homogenous whole. This volume will prove fascinating and important reading for those interested in questions of cultural identity and marginalization as well as Japanese literature and culture.
Conjoining the classical and the modern with a unified theme reveals an important continuum in female authorship-a historical approach often ignored by scholars. The essays devoted to the literature of the classical period discuss canonical texts in a new light, offering important feminist readings that challenge existing scholarship, while those dedicated to modern writers introduce readers to little-known texts with translations and readings that are engaging and original.
Contributors: Tomoko Aoyama, Sonja Arntzen, Janice Brown, Rebecca L. Copeland, Midori McKeon, Eileen Mikals-Adachi, Joshua S. Mostow, Sharalyn Orbaugh, Esperanza Ramirez-Christensen, Edith Sarra, Atsuko Sasaki, Ann Sherif.
The essays in this volume explore such subjects as the continuing resonances of the atomic bombings; the notion of transnational subjects; the question of the de-canonization (as well as the re-canonization) of writers; the construction (and deconstruction) of gender models; the quest for spirituality amid contemporary Japanese consumer affluence; post-modernity and Japanese infantilism; the intertwining connections between history, myth-making, and discrimination; and apocalyptic visions of fin de siecle Japan. Contributors pursue various methodological and theoretical approaches to reveal the breadth of scholarship on modern Japanese literature. The essays reflect some of the latest thinking, both Western and Japanese, on such topics as subjectivity, gender, history, modernity, and the postmodern.
Oe and Beyond includes essays on Endo Shusaku, Hayashi Kyoko, Kanai Mieko, Kurahashi Yumiko, Murakami Haruki, Murakami Ryu, Nakagami Kenji, Oe Kenzaburo, Ohba Minako, Shimada Masahiko, Takahashi Takako, and Yoshimoto Banana.
Contributors: Davinder L. Bhowmik, Philip Gabriel, Van C. Gessel, Adrienne Hurley, Susan J. Napier, Sharalyn Orbaugh, Jay Rubin, Atsuko Sakaki, Ann Sherif, Stephen Snyder, Mark Williams, Eve Zimmerman.
Modern Okinawa has been forged by a history of conquest and occupation by mainland Japan and the United States. Its sense of dual subjugation and the propensity of its writers to confront their own complicity with Japanese militarism imbues Okinawa's literary tradition with insightful perspectives on a wide range of issues. But this tradition is as deeply rooted in the region's lush semitropical landscape as in the forces of history. As this anthology demonstrates, Okinawan writers often suffuse their works with a lyricism and humor that disarms readers while bringing them face to face with the region's richly ambiguous legacy.
Akiko's later poetry has now begun to win long-overdue recognition, but in terms of literary history the impact of Midaregami (Tangled Hair, 1901), her first book, still overshadows everything else she wrote, for it brought individualism to traditional tanka poetry with a tempestuous force and passion found in no other work of the period. Embracing the Firebird traces Akiko's emotional and artistic development up to the publication of this seminal work, which became a classic of modern Japanese poetry and marked the starting point of Akiko's forty-year-long career as a writer. It then examines Tangled Hair itself, the characteristics that make it a unified work of art, and its originality.
The study throughout includes Janine Beichman's elegant translations of poems by Yosano Akiko (both those included in Tangled Hair and those not), as well as poems by contemporaries such as Yosano Tekkan, Yamakawa Tomiko, and others.
A significant dimension of this volume is the detailed and extensive treatment afforded two important areas of postwar Japanese verse: the poetry of women and of Okinawa. Modernism in Practice is noteworthy not only as an introduction to postwar Japanese poets and their times, but also for the numerous poems that appear in translation throughout the volume many for the first time in book form."
Until the early 1980s, the literary category of women's literature (joryu bungaku) segregated most writing by modern Japanese women from the literary canon. Women's literature was viewed as a sentimental and impressionistic literary style that was popular but was critically disparaged.
A close scrutiny of Hayashi Fumiko's work--in particular the two pieces masterfully translated here, the immensely popular novel Horoki (Diary of a Vagabond) and Suisen (Narcissus)--shows the inadequacies of categorizing her writing as women's literature. Its originality and power are rooted in the clarity and immediacy with which Hayashi is able to convey the humanity of those occupying the underside of Japanese society, especially women.