Yorifumi Yaguchi Memoir Published

November 15, 2008

The Wing-Beaten Air: My Life and My Writing, a memoir by Yorifumi Yaguchi, has just been published by Good Books.

From the publisher:

Acclaimed Japanese poet, Yorifumi Yaguchi, has turned his writing attention to telling baldly what he experienced as a child growing up on the island of Honshu in the late 1930s and '40s.

His piercing and disarming prose takes us to his family's vegetable farm within earshot of the sea. We go with him to his grandfather's Buddhist temple, where Yaguchi discovered ninja stories and where the air was as clear as the temple bell that rang each morning and at dusk, dispelling bad spirits and keeping the peace.

And then the boy's father suddenly died, and, on the nearby airfield, "dragon-swallower" planes and soldiers rose up, crowing about their victory over the Americans.

Yaguchi takes us deep into his heart and mind, and we see and feel and come to know life as he did. Catching fish and birds as a boy, thwarting the playground bullies, taking shelter from bombs in a damp mine, swimming in a bomb pool in the middle of a rice field, losing his childhood friend to prostitution, learning about Christmas. When life became incomprehensible, Yaguchi put his experiences into poems. His audience grew beyond Japan-and included Robert Bly (pictured with Mr. Yaguchi below, in far-right photo), Denise Levertov, and William Stafford, who became his friends. Recognized in Japan as a major poet and also as an outspoken advocate for peace (for which he credits both his Buddhist grandfather and his own Christian faith), Yaguchi here uses his extraordinary voice to tell his life story, which has overlapped with so many world events. He dots his rich prose with many never-before-published poems, heightening the telling unforgettably.

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