Women Poets of Japan

Posted by Censor Librorum on Jan 17, 2007 | Categories: Lesbian in a Catholic Sort of Way

I can give myself to her
In her dreams
Whispering her own poems
In her ear as she sleeps beside me

Yosano Akiko (1878-1942)

I leave all the scarlet flowers
For the woman I love
And hiding my tears from her
I pick
The flower of forgetfulness.

Yamakawa Tomiko (1879-1909)

I shall hide myself
within the moon of the spring night
after I have dared to reveal
my love to you.

Chino Masako (1880-1946)

In 1900 Yosano Akiko went to Tokyo where she studied poetry with Yosano Hiroshi (Tekkan), who considered himself the leader of the new waka poetry (tanka) movement. She married him. For a time, they were involved in a maison a trois with a young woman, Yamakawa Tomiko, whom they both loved deeply. After a few years, Tomiko died of tuberculosis. She left one book, Koi-Goromo (The Garment of Lovemaking), written in collaboration with Yosano Akiko and Chino Masako.

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2 Responses to “Women Poets of Japan”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    This is just lovely.
    Any chance you know who the translator(s) is/are? I would really love to read more, but am having trouble finding any English translations of the book you mentioned, Koi-Goromo.

  2. Karen Says:

    It has been a lot of years since this post! I believe I got these poems from the book, Women Poets of Japan, translated and edited by Ikuko Atsumi and Kenneth Rexroth. It published in 1982. You can find it on Amazon. Their original book was The Burning Heart–Women Poets of Japan, published in 1977 by The Seabury Press. You can find an original on eBay. Sorry to say I cannot find an English translation of Koi-Goromo either. Japanese and Chinese lesbian writers have been underappreciated in our history.

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