While reading Takuboku Ishikawa’s Romaji Diary and Sad Toys on the train home from Osaka to Kishiwada it occurred to me that it would be fascinating to do something similar. That is, to record my final, maybe, year in Japan via diary style musings and Tanka style poems.
Takuboku was a pauper poet whose pride and dedication to poetry saw great productivity but also poverty as he single-mindedly followed his aspirations (and got himself into a lot of trouble in doing so). He died an early death of Tuberculosis in 1913. The Romaji Diary follows his life from the April to June of 1909. Sad Toys is a collection of Tanka.
A proper note on Tanka shall be written at a later date once the properties have been suitably weighed. Though it is nice to consider adding this 31-syllable poetic form to those at my disposal already. Those being Haiku, Senryu, Chokka, Waka and Katauta.
There is a certain peace to the simplicity of Japanese style poems though writing them in English requires certain changes. These can be reducing the number of syllables to capture the contained nature of the Japanese poem or these can be by keeping the syllabic nature and using English’s more exuberant style.
Mine shall mix between the two for now and see if any one form shall make itself dominant. The poetic form will not be exclusively Tanka and many others will find their ways inside.
It would be nice that this log from now until next July will find its way into print. The growth in interest in Japanese culture is bound to expand away from the current obsessions with manga and anime towards the more traditional art forms.
Translated by Wulfstan Crumble