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And the River Flowed as a Raft of Corpses: The Poetry of Yamaguchi Tsutomu, Survivor of Both Hiroshima and Nagasaki

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Chad Diehl, a Columbia University doctoral candidate, introduces Raft of Corpses as the first official translation of the tanka poetry of Yamaguchi Tsutomu (1916-2010), a survivor of both atomic bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Chad lived with Yamaguchi in Nagasaki during the summer of 2009 to gain insight and instruction in order to create the most accurate tra Chad Diehl, a Columbia University doctoral candidate, introduces Raft of Corpses as the first official translation of the tanka poetry of Yamaguchi Tsutomu (1916-2010), a survivor of both atomic bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Chad lived with Yamaguchi in Nagasaki during the summer of 2009 to gain insight and instruction in order to create the most accurate translations possible. Chad includes in the book a lengthy introductory essay about Yamaguchi's experience to provide essential context for the poems, and he has also written a preface in Japanese for Japanese readers. "I thought the mushroom cloud had followed me to Nagasaki," Yamaguchi recalled decades after the bombings as he tried to explain his incredulity at the terrifying d�j� vu. Yamaguchi's testimony of those days and subsequent years living with the physical and psychological trauma characterize the theme of his poems translated in Raft of Corpses. The paradox of surviving two atomic bombs to live on for six decades stirs in the readers of Yamaguchi's tanka poems simultaneous feelings of awe, disbelief, horror, sympathy, and hope. The poetry included in Raft of Corpses "passes the baton" carried by Yamaguchi to convey the experience of the atomic bombings and spread a message of the importance of world peace and the necessity to abolish nuclear weapons. In that spirit, Chad has selected and translated a total of sixty-five of Yamaguchi's tanka poems to commemorate the sixty-fifth anniversary of the bombings this year (2010). The book also includes numerous photographs and images of Yamaguchi's hand-written poems and calligraphy. Some of Yamaguchi's paintings add an additional layer to the book, and Chad hopes that the many poems included that do not address the bombings will provide readers with a better understanding of Yamaguchi's life and personality. Donald Keene, Professor Emeritus of Japanese Literature at Columbia University, writes in the foreword, "Chad Diehl has translated some of Mr. Yamaguchi's poems. The translations transmit the horror of the two terrible explosions and the disfigured dead. He has kept as close to the originals as possible, but remembering Mr. Yamaguchi's fondness for rhymed poetry, he has effectively used rhyme in some of the translations. It could not have been easy to translate these poems, but Mr. Diehl, who knew Mr. Yamaguchi well, felt impelled to make these translations, the most fitting tribute to his memory."


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Chad Diehl, a Columbia University doctoral candidate, introduces Raft of Corpses as the first official translation of the tanka poetry of Yamaguchi Tsutomu (1916-2010), a survivor of both atomic bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Chad lived with Yamaguchi in Nagasaki during the summer of 2009 to gain insight and instruction in order to create the most accurate tra Chad Diehl, a Columbia University doctoral candidate, introduces Raft of Corpses as the first official translation of the tanka poetry of Yamaguchi Tsutomu (1916-2010), a survivor of both atomic bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Chad lived with Yamaguchi in Nagasaki during the summer of 2009 to gain insight and instruction in order to create the most accurate translations possible. Chad includes in the book a lengthy introductory essay about Yamaguchi's experience to provide essential context for the poems, and he has also written a preface in Japanese for Japanese readers. "I thought the mushroom cloud had followed me to Nagasaki," Yamaguchi recalled decades after the bombings as he tried to explain his incredulity at the terrifying d�j� vu. Yamaguchi's testimony of those days and subsequent years living with the physical and psychological trauma characterize the theme of his poems translated in Raft of Corpses. The paradox of surviving two atomic bombs to live on for six decades stirs in the readers of Yamaguchi's tanka poems simultaneous feelings of awe, disbelief, horror, sympathy, and hope. The poetry included in Raft of Corpses "passes the baton" carried by Yamaguchi to convey the experience of the atomic bombings and spread a message of the importance of world peace and the necessity to abolish nuclear weapons. In that spirit, Chad has selected and translated a total of sixty-five of Yamaguchi's tanka poems to commemorate the sixty-fifth anniversary of the bombings this year (2010). The book also includes numerous photographs and images of Yamaguchi's hand-written poems and calligraphy. Some of Yamaguchi's paintings add an additional layer to the book, and Chad hopes that the many poems included that do not address the bombings will provide readers with a better understanding of Yamaguchi's life and personality. Donald Keene, Professor Emeritus of Japanese Literature at Columbia University, writes in the foreword, "Chad Diehl has translated some of Mr. Yamaguchi's poems. The translations transmit the horror of the two terrible explosions and the disfigured dead. He has kept as close to the originals as possible, but remembering Mr. Yamaguchi's fondness for rhymed poetry, he has effectively used rhyme in some of the translations. It could not have been easy to translate these poems, but Mr. Diehl, who knew Mr. Yamaguchi well, felt impelled to make these translations, the most fitting tribute to his memory."

39 review for And the River Flowed as a Raft of Corpses: The Poetry of Yamaguchi Tsutomu, Survivor of Both Hiroshima and Nagasaki

  1. 5 out of 5

    (Mellifluous Grant)

    Lovely. The imagery produced by this read is both tragic and beautiful and stays with you long after the last page.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Anna Gibson

    It's hard to rate work like this. Heart-wrenching, sobering, and reflective. My one issue is that I would have like more than 65 poems included in the book, as they are short tanka poems and I would love a more 'full' English collection of his poetry. Still, a must-read for anyone interested in "witness" poetry and and the atomic bombings. It's hard to rate work like this. Heart-wrenching, sobering, and reflective. My one issue is that I would have like more than 65 poems included in the book, as they are short tanka poems and I would love a more 'full' English collection of his poetry. Still, a must-read for anyone interested in "witness" poetry and and the atomic bombings.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Imasha

  4. 4 out of 5

    Brendan McDermott

  5. 5 out of 5

    Michileen Martin

  6. 5 out of 5

    Morgane

  7. 5 out of 5

    Deon Swanepoel

  8. 4 out of 5

    Débora

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sammy

  10. 4 out of 5

    Shovan Dutta

  11. 4 out of 5

    Flora

  12. 5 out of 5

    James Riach

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra Reilly

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

  15. 4 out of 5

    Emmanuel Gomez-arias

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ioana Avram

  17. 5 out of 5

    Geetha Subbu

  18. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Sipila

  19. 5 out of 5

    Cian

  20. 4 out of 5

    Geoff Thom

  21. 5 out of 5

    Drew Venegas

  22. 5 out of 5

    Haley

  23. 5 out of 5

    Veera

  24. 5 out of 5

    Adwaita

  25. 4 out of 5

    High Desert

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jindrich Gorner

  27. 4 out of 5

    Maja

  28. 5 out of 5

    Martha Alicia

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ashish Bhaskar

  30. 5 out of 5

    Munty Suwandi

  31. 5 out of 5

    Martin Hellberg

  32. 4 out of 5

    mark

  33. 5 out of 5

    Fishface

  34. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

  35. 5 out of 5

    Gergana Pavlova

  36. 5 out of 5

    Ishak Ansar

  37. 4 out of 5

    Aliya

  38. 4 out of 5

    Pearl Woods

  39. 5 out of 5

    Massassin

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