- Category: PA 2002
Shuntaro Tanikawa, winner of every significant award for literature in Japan and the country's foremost living poet, was born in 1931 in Tokyo, son of the distinguished philosopher Tetsuzo Tanikawa. By the age of 18 he was writing poetry and his first book of poems was published in 1952 to instant acclaim. Almost every year since then a new book of poetry by Tanikawa has appeared, totaling nearly 60 volumes of verse. But he does not limit himself to verse as he is also well known as a playwright, script writer for film, television and radio, and is also a video producer. He has translated into Japanese the Peanuts comic strips and also the Mother Goose rhymes (receiving an award for the latter).
Eschewing haiku, Japan's traditional poetic form, Tanikawa writes a free verse filled with passion and curiosity on a broad range of subjects. Readers will be struck by his fascination with the Western culture - Charlie Brown, John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Oscar Hammerstein are among those with significant cameos in Tanikawa's work. He also displays a strong poetic connection to his American contemporaries, the Beat and Black Mountain poets, among them Robert Creeley, Allen Ginsberg, and Paul Blackburn.
His latest collection, The Collected Poems of Shuntaro Tanikawa, which includes 19 titles in English translation, was released in 2000 on CD-Rom. Shuntaro Tanikawa has achieved a noteworthy level of popularity inside and outside Japan. Geoffrey O'Brien of the Village Voice points out that Tanikawa "is published in leading newspapers and interviewed in the equivalents of People and Cosmopolitan. His poetry receives critical praise and the kind of lavish editions reserved in America for the long deceased - and even they have to fight for it".
Publications: (English translations)
Two Billion Light-Years of Solitude 1952/1996,
Hokuseido 62 Sonnets, 1953/1992, Katydid Books
With Silence My Companion, 1968/1975, Prescott Street Press
Looking Down, 1971/2000, Kyobunsya
At Midnight in the Kitchen I Just Wanted to Talk to You, 1975/1980, Prescott Street Press
62 Sonnets & Definitions, 1975/1992, Katydid Books
Coca-Cola Lessons, 1980/1986, Prescott Street Press
Map of Days, 1982/1996, Katydid Books
The Selected Poems of Shuntaro Tanikawa¸ 1983, North Point Press
Songs of Nonsense, 1985/1991, Seidosha
Floating the River in Melancholy, 1988/1988, Prescott Street Press
Naked, 1988/1996, Stone Bridge Press/Saru Press International
Shuntaro Tanikawa : Selected Poems, 1998, Carcanet / 2001, Persea Books.