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Poetry for an Uncertain World
Hiromi Itō , Poet
Hiromi Itō was born in Tokyo in 1955 and quickly rose to prominence in the 1970s and 1980s with a series of sensational books of poetry that utterly transformed the ways that people were writing in Japan. One Japanese commentator recently wrote this about her: “The appearance of Itō Hiromi, a figure that one might best call a ‘shamaness of poetry,’ was an enormous event in post-postwar poetry. Her physiological sensitivity and writing style, which could not be contained within any existing framework, became the igniting force behind the subsequent flourishing of ‘women’s poetry’ (josei shi), just as Hagiwara Sakutarō had revolutionized modern poetry….” The comparison between Itō and Hagiwara Sakutarō, often called the “father of modern Japanese poetry” suggests the colossal importance of Itō’s contribution to modern Japanese letters. Her early work often dealt with issues of critical feminist importance, for instance, women’s sexuality, pregnancy, childbirth, and abortion. In 1997, she moved to southern California, where she still lives with her partner, the artist Harold Cohen. Her own experiences as a migrant writer led her to explore issues of transnationalism, linguistic development, and cultural hybridity in a number of highly acclaimed novels and book-length poems.
Friday, May 02, 2014 | 6:30 pm — 8:00 pm