Shuri Kido, known as the “far north poet,” is one of the most influential contemporary poets in Japan. Names and Rivers brings the poems of Shuri Kido to readers in North America for the first time, thanks to star translator team Tomoyuki Endo and Pulitzer Prize winner Forrest Gander. Drawing influence from Japanese culture and geography, Buddhist teachings, and modernist poets, Kido presents a mesmerizing view of the world and our human position in it. This is a world “that isn’t ours”—where the trees are sirens while the people are silent, where snow lingers while language crumbles. Names and Rivers is made of crossings, questionings, and mysteries as unanswered and open as the sky. Bilingual Japanese-English production.
“Shuri Kido is well-known in his native Japan, and his work at last comes to the United States in this lovely bilingual selection, translated by Tomoyuki Endo and Pulitzer Prize winner Forrest Gander. Kido’s poems are frequently spiritual dramas set in a dreamlike landscape of symbols, in which a central, isolated figure encounters mysterious phenomena while making ambiguous progress toward an inscrutable goal. ‘Elusive water,’ he writes in ‘Some Thoughts on Kozukata.’ ‘You draw it up, / pour it over yourself. / Today courses by like yesterday, / today floats like a cork on tomorrow. / And that’s why you draw water.’” —Washington Post, “The Five Best Poetry Collections of 2022”
“The expansive, philosophical poems in Names and Rivers: Selected Poems by Shuri Kido consider themes of solitude, time, and ‘naming’ through close attention—fueled by both scientific knowledge and awe—to geological forms and rivers. . . . Kido, an eminent writer known as Japan’s ‘far north poet,’ draws on his ‘geographical imagination’ to engage with ‘time as an encompassing palimpsest’ . . . . Co-translator Forrest Gander, in his preface, notes that he and Endo agreed to ‘avoid the kind of translation that tries to stuff the glorious difference of another language’s features into the polished shoe of conventional English,’ and the effect is a slightly unconventional use of syntax and sentence, which, as evidenced in the selection above, adds a dynamic dissonance without compromising the poem’s communicative clarity.” —Poetry Foundation
“Tomoyuki Endo and Forrest Gander dizzyingly transpose Shuri Kido’s exploration of synchronous time and realization through an array of carefully selected and presented poems. Beginning with a delightful essay on Kido’s conception of time as ‘an encompassing palimpsest’ by Tomoyuki Endo, Names and Rivers urges the reader to detach from a linear view of time and to open their eyes to the smudged writing in the margins. . . . Names and Rivers is an intense, looming permutation of Shuri Kido’s poetry. It is a hand drawn halfway from the river as two currents crash back into one. It is a call to see everything as everything, to ‘take to our feet, to get going,’ and to continue crossing the river.” —Action Books
“Kido’s first foray—and a rewarding one—into English translation.” —Metropolis
“The collection spans 18 of Kido’s works, from his 1985 debut anthology Shokan (Summoning) to 2010’s Maboroshi no haha (Mother of Illusions) and Sekai-kai (World-Ocean). The original Japanese sits alongside translations of Kido’s representative poems including ‘Hitetsu (‘Non-ferrous’), ‘Kozukata,’ and ‘Sen no boin’ (‘A Thousand Vowels’), making it of interest to native Japanese speakers as well. . . . The collection manages to get across [Kido’s] original style of writing.” —Mainichi