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  • Tokyo Poetry Journal

Tokyo Poetry Journal Volume 11: Tokyo City / Slice is a love letter to Tokyo. It was a long time coming, delayed during times so uncertain, "uncertain times" has become a phrase we are all now allergic to.


"This volume was a long time coming. From Drunk Poets See God in Gari Gari, when said poets would wander into Shibuya walking after midnight. From poetry collaborations taking root in Yoyogi Park. From gatherings to write poems to the full moon, shrouded in clouds. From burning poems only to recreate them with fiery inspiration. Everything you find in this city is a trigger.

––from Editors' Letter, by Zoria Petkoska and Mat Chiappe


At the launch party on July 16, 2022, at The Hive Jinnan, the editors opened the event by reading from their letter. The poetry reading was then kicked off by editor-in-chief Jordan A. Y. Smith with a multilingual poem performed in his captivating style. He was followed by Joy Waller and Simon Scott. After the ToPoJo team broke the ice, one of the volume's youngest contributors, Kana Hozoji, took the stage to read "Bodies of Water", a bilingual poem in Japanese and English. That concluded part one of the reading.


In the intermission, ToPoJo Volume 11 cover artist, Simon Kalajdjiev, created digital glitch art live, projected on the screen accompanied by original music by Agustin Spinetti.


Some of the glitch art created during the performance by the artist:



The second block of readers started with Alvin Wong and his multimedia performance with sound, projections and an object installation.



Taylor Mignon and David Severn performed together, combining experimental poetry reading and music.



Marc Sebastian-Jones had an emotional performance reading several poems accompanied by sounds.


Andrew Gebert read his poem both in Japanese and English.


The evening was concluded with an electronic music performance by Agustin Spinetti. Spinetti creates captivating sets of music and AI-enhanced visuals that look like constellations of sounds. After a while he lets the audience participate and change the sounds at will from his phone.




Finally, Zoria and Mat read the invisible poem – invisible on the page but everyone could collect via a stamp at the event. (Read more about how to collect the invisible poem here).


 

Tokyo Poetry Journal Volume 11: Tokyo City / Slice contains poetry and translations by: Mat Chiappe, Alvin Wong, Zoria Petkoska, Taylor Mignon, Sarah Caulfield, Andrew, David Severn, Jordan A. Y. Smith, Simon Scott, Andrew Hanson, Carl Walsh, Alan Ojeda (translated by Griselda Perrota), Seira Duncan, Kana Hozoji, Kathleen Hellen, Misumi Mizuki (translated by Andrew Gebert), Nagae Yūki (translated by Jordan A. Y. Smith), Terayama Shūji (translated by Marc Sebastian-Jones), Matthew Zuckerman, Trish Shishikura, Christian Hernández, Barbara Summerhawk, Ibaragi Noriko (translated by Andrew Houwen and Peter Robinson).

Reviews of works by Tanikawa Shuntaro and Miho Nonaka.

Art by Simon Kalajdjiev (cover), Erica Ward, & Apolo Cacho.

 

All photos by Morgan Fisher.

See more photos of the launch below:



  • Tokyo Poetry Journal

Updated: Sep 9

"Tokyo lines up when it must, but after the last train has departed, poets walk the rails and squeeze through the trap doors under the platforms. We untangle power lines hanging over like mysterious myriad-stroke kanji. Between the city slices we let some poetry bleed out."

And we make invisible poems so you can complete your ToPoJo Vol.11 yourself with one final touch.

On page 86 of the Tokyo Poetry Journal Volume 11: Tokyo City / Slice, you will find an empty page.



Why? Because just like this city, nothing is ever complete. Shinjuku Station has construction work going on every day, passages change as if you were in an enchanted labyrinth. The Tokyo City / Slice volume too has an empty page, something that is yet to come. Incidentally, the invisible poem references the organized madness of Tokyo's train stations.


Because, just like living in this city, there's always some information missing, something you don't know, are not told, or do not understand. Words you are yet to learn, secrets you are yet to unveil. Poems you are yet to read.


Because, just like wandering around this city, there is fun in searching and finding. We took inspiration from JR's stamp rallies, from escape rooms, treasure hunts, tasking, from just being playful. Tokyo is a game and the invisible poem is exactly about that. About every play, every day.


Because, unlike the alienation of living in a megalopolis in the 21st century, we want to pull you into our world. We want you to take part.



Attendees at the launch party on July 16, 2022, at The Hive Jinnan, had the chance to be the first ones to stamp the poem. One could say this is the "correct" (for a lack of a better word) way to collect the invisible poem. It's the author's and the editors' intention after all.


All poetry, however, is up for reinterpretation, you can read anything between the lines if they whisper to you. And that goes for the invisible poem in Volume 11 too. You can "collect" it in other ways than finding the stamp.


You can find out what the stamped poem is but handwrite it in your copy of the book. You can write it with invisible ink! You can write your own poem – an invisible idea becoming visible and collected once you collect your thoughts and put them on the page. You can just leave it blank if you wish so.


But, if you do want to join us in the poetry treasure hunt for the poem, check this post for the current location of the stamp. (It will be changed everytime the stamp changes location.)


IN SEPTEMBER, 2022, YOU CAN COLLECT THE INVISIBLE POEM AT INCREDIBLE COFFEE KOENJI

Just go up at the barista and ask for the ToPoJo stamp.


MORE DETAILS TO BE ANNOUNCED SOON





Ukiyo-e print by Ryusai Shegeharu. (1830)


The majority of poetry is written in solitary contemplation, or as our friend William Wordsworth would say “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” However, poets are playful social beings too and some of the greatest works of literature have been born out of co-writing or collaboration in various forms.


ToPoJo loves teaming up with musicians and artists of all kinds for every volume and event. We highly value collaboration, our journal is a testament to that. ToPoJo editor Taylor Mignon has co-written several poems with fellow ToPoJo editors and poets from the Tokyo poetry scene in the last few years. Here are six poems selected by Mignon himself.

 

Let’s Play Kafka

By Ray Craig & T Mignon


let's play Kafka

you go first


Misuto sauna de seki shite, chichai chinpira ni cho shikareru


aruite sanpun - suika taberu

places to receive futari no kaewa


Gion de kikoeru giongo wa goshi goshi dake ja ne zō


let's read between the tear

5 fit and flare chigitte taberu


Danchi ni andakaba (undercover)—no darake, no Visa


niatteru ne, sono chotto matte

wait, let’s hurry

dakara dattara

Kafka to omoikiri asobu


Noted that watakushi ga memo mada moratteinai, mo~, minna jiro jiro miruna! 👀


kankei nai kara sa

passengers complain, robins flock

zettai machigaetteru


Super sento no tansanburo (carbonated water bath) de shoujo to chichi pretend to eat food


about, as could

robins fade

passengers complain

Kafka ni aete ureshikute shikata ga nai



cho chinpira ga Kafka o sagashita kedo meiro ni maiyotta


datte sa, about is part

2 voices one page furi furi


You out yr left fish in....Eto eto desu ne hoki poki shake shake


blossoms complicate

ikinari togireru

puddles or Russian novels o kabatte

twisted, 3 miles

waiting for bus

reading Frank O’Hara


Flummoxed by lexical loquaciousness & lady hiney highness, back to English


mizugi ni ashi ga tsuite masune

ugoki nagara hayashi no naka

Tomimatsu, tattoo for Kafu

peg-top and blackbirds


Kotoba no avalanche ni natte, Kafka ha nagare no naka ni shindeiru


"Postcard from Kafka" by Ray Craig

 

buttered young, battered Jung & the yolo orgy

By Todd Silverstein & T Mignon


*listen with soundscape by David Severn


raw and rhyme’s rough fisticuffs, タン タン bomb

#power poof Tantan man babe buff nuf famalam i am

philtrums lapped, spent, splayed by tongue’s scrum

#then scrummage at garage sale of rubbage, ma’homage

but am who to emulate?

Ingrate unconcentrate baggage-agonista

#grape concentrate, fashion agonista, dudette, don’t die

on dat diet

too thin skinned to sin boyo—nape ape it, nyet

#yet slurping margarita, collective unconsciousness on

holiday forgets

better bet be better,

buttered young, battered Jung, air-iest ba-booms

#out primordial sludge, 31 offers a

cookie dough & fudge spoon

are hunger, our boil, テスラコイル, lightning's

#lam from the loom

fruit of the loom our doom a foil for whom

undoom the room, unwhom baboon, babble to boil

#Band Name Ideas have a hullabaloo over how to spell

hoola-balew

brand new to-do, pettigrew's crew,

triumphant, resplendent

#Izod Polo J-Crew Hollister Ab. & Fitch Am. Eagle unravel

@ logo orgy

cast off, wax on, come Mammon, Kink Kong, rise up!

cranekick armageddon!

#Chrome’s Helios Creed howls “Armageddon” & sneers

“I’m a gentleman”

then, whimpering, allows, "less shallow than bear"

#slap on that bass line! Fishman’s psych solo!

tap on that YOLO, riff as thunder, loose singularly

strumpets

#snappin hat emoji, sniffs asunder, caboose scrumptious

synch carpet

thwart-circuits madcap heart’s Sensoji, thumps profuse,

bumptious ’n pink

#yo Cap, ain’t got no Beef w/ yr Heart, peace bump

head butt

 

The collaboration poems below have been published in Tokyo Poetry Journal Volume 11: Tokyo City / Slice


O Glorious Galore!

by Matthew Zuckerman & T Mignon

Buck rolls & bucks flow, dragon digests, splurge of words regurge

It ate cream cheese with crushed strawberries, rustic pompadour swelling and opening

Deux delishier palette pleasure round two, dragster goatee, embedded r3

Wide eyed into the eyes of time and down down down

Thust hence, Freddie King gave birth to this ditty, wit-ness

Hide away and stumble on to San Ho Zay

No way! Yazohnas is like macarolli hosanna

To all the believers on the parsnip of glory

O glorious galore of a fast Las Vegas rolling die

 

David Severn, Morgan Fisher and Taylor Mignon. (2018)


Madam Kicker, for Masahiko S.

By David Severn & T Mignon


Hoochie coochie cinnabom, g n t no lime, table splinter in palm

Indigo n khaki reggaement blows an air on a g string

Red tubby n calico super duper pinch bassist rips show

eno n byrne-ing bush of ghosts up on deck loop loop

US is waiting & Boredoms lay down in Shimokita coin locker

Down the tracks, a station’s lights shine from ancient time

Down the flask & town’s neon turns to drizzle curve moments

Rain’s bow and arrows drozzle on while folk homego

Home slice left shag right duff gruffly among labyrinthian curbs

Achi kochi, m c escher-calators scuttle down to bedrock


April 19, 2019


 

Collapsing Chuhai

By Zoria Petkoska K. & T. Mignon


Train-strained to a speck, breathe in........ breathe out.......


Coughing fit fast forward to fist fight, ah, masks off

--

Gloves on. A spitting image of a broken mirror


Dukes down — each sputum a universe— chuhai kampai


achoo-hai, kanpai ippai, cheers to the cheerful, and then - silence


.................................................................................yes (small type)


......... No, silence not found. SILENCE is sold in slices here, a rare commodity, a foie gras of force-feeding me loneliness


Step up & git yr fresh slices of silences @ sidewalk sale, prices slashed


Not sold in vending machines - they're too LOUD


They vent via Vipassana, scream to whisper


blistered escalators conspire with elevators


The gaslighting of public transpo thru loopy cameo


Zoria and Taylor performing "Collapsing Chudai" at Topojo Volume 10 Launch, Yoyogi Park, July 2021. Photo by Simon Scott

 

電子連詩

Taylor Mignon and Jordan Smith



S/he it them us we ourselves benched the press for a thousand word pounds


The Mensch and the Benshi

Empty head deaded with

Bench-warmer nepenthe


Hachiko and Benji anthromorph pickin sanshin & banjo @ 9th inning stretch


Hamstrings tingling, ham-fisted rib-tickling

Loyal to a fault-line

With soil and plotline

Grew blue suede shoes

And a Fedora for the aura


Mr. Beau Shpongle, trance trance this ellipsis dingle dangle does dance


But doesn't do || pants ||

Not so into }{ clothing }{

=Raving= & =roving=

& cyber-punktuation

Himalayan monks kissing hunksss of defffflation


Thai fisherpeeps in Yoga pants do handplants {!} Sponsor Words::: Uniqlo w/Yayoi & Yokoo on the go....go ala Tones on Tail Go! Gap ゲップ {!} Zara: respectful, elegant cheapshit apparel....yay {!}


Underneath chic sheaths:: Zen-sheen Dots Mode = 全身脱毛de

bald ≠ spectacle, my hairless little delectable

Retractable-fact Writing Hood

Wolf ear headphones

Sinking in fangs

Blissing _]out[_ to the dead TONES


Never baloney nay say ever salami yay sushi ma’ omey ma’ dude irreveriblingblongitude exude a White Russian flush up, this humpty empty dumpty a nitty gritty dingalong singalong semi-dirty ditty


Truly gritty

Unruly itsy-bitsiness

Tiddly-winking titties

Slipping doubloons into gold tipsiness

ENTER POLITICS ...

Okay, now EXIT POLITICS ...


In out in out, coitus interruptus, revolutate responsibly anarchate yr ass & yr blinding 3rd "I" will be bound to see see, you statue girl, wicker boy, the other others you & me flee yr mind @ land mine field free


Refills, recaps: Buddhist moonshine

Sex in an election year

Sex with an erection clearly

Wrecked in the electric chair:

Redirected to greener pastures,

It was downright awkward:

Offered the black handshake

Then Slaughtered by the imposters