Special Issue of CMW Journal on Yorifumi Yaguchi

January 15, 2009

The second issue of CMW Journal will be devoted to Yorifumi Yaguchi, acclaimed Japanese poet who is also a Mennonite lay pastor. Disillusioned with Buddhism as a force for peace in Japan, Yaguchi discovered Mennonite missionaries in Japan after World War II and was delighted to find a religion of peace. Subsequently, Yaguchi attended the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, Indiana during the 1960s, and became a Mennonite. While in the United States, he published several chapbooks of poetry with the Pinchpenny Press at Goshen College. Upon returning to Japan, he became an active lay pastor at a Mennonite Fellowship on Hokkaido.

This special issue will feature:

  • Poetry by Yorifumi Yaguchi (not previously published in the U.S.)
  • "Staring Down the Muzzle," a critical essay by Wilbur Birky, editor of Yaguchi's collected poems in the U.S.
  • Journal by Wilbur Birky on traveling with Yaguchi in Japan and presenting peace poetry.
  • A major essay by Yaguchi on poetry and peace.

To be published on March 15, 2009

Comments for Special Issue of CMW Journal on Yorifumi Yaguchi

  • Ross L Bender

    On January 22, 2009 Ross L Bender wrote:

    Some Yaguchi tidbits:

    My translator's foreword to "Jesus" (Pinchpenny Press, 1989) pp. 7-11 include a brief note on the verbs "yureru" and "yusuru" in Yaguchi's poetry. The book also includes a translation of Yaguchi's afterword which includes the sentence "Works of mine which deal with sex are relatively numerous and, far from being termed a religious poet, I've been called a porno-poet." I'd be happy to share some of these poems from his earlier works. The first book of poetry Yaguchi gave me was titled "Niguro no ooki na onna" -- "Big Black Woman".

    BTW I first met Yaguchi at the age of 15 in 1967 when I was visiting Sapporo with my father. Charles Shenk recently sent me some photos from that occasion which I would be happy to forward to you if you're interested.

    When I was a grad student at Columbia in 1976 Yaguchi was at SUNY Buffalo for the year and he visited NYC for a conference. I arranged a room for him at the Wales Hotel, before I learned of his interest in the Welsh poet R. S. Thomas. Gary Snyder was a participant in that conference.

    My online saga "Rosannadanna of the Amish" includes a character named Yobu, a descendant of the poet and charges d'affaires at the Japanese Embassy on 42nd Street after the Rapture. My online poetic travel journal "Osoroshii Menonaito Nikki" records a visit I made to Yaguchi in Sapporo in 2005, with a photo and copy of one of his latest antiwar poems. I also visited his son Yobu in Sendai on that trip. Yaguchi suggested I call this journal "The Mennonite Oku no Hosomichi" in the tradition of Basho.

    Finally, I presented a copy of "Jesus" to my former professor Donald Keene at the centenary celebration of the Columbia East Asian library in 2004. Keene was awarded the "Order of Culture" by the Emperor on Culture Day 2008 for his career in translating and promoting Japanese literature in the West.

    Ross Lynn Bender Philadelphia http://rossbender.org

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