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  • Writer's pictureTokyo Poetry Journal

Updated: Mar 13, 2023

"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 every time the stamp changes location.)

NEXT LOCATION: DRUNK POETS SEE GOD events at BAR GARI GARI (ask the hosts at the door)

March 25th, 2023: at Ryozan Lounge at ToPoJo's poetry reading dedicated to women in poetry.



  • Writer's pictureTokyo Poetry Journal

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


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


#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



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


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


Japan-based American poet Cid Corman passed away in 2004. He lived in Kyoto since 1958 and his legacy in Japan continues to inspire. Topojo's Taylor Mignon talked to Cid Corman back in the early 2000s. The resulting interview was in the archives, in need of a new digital home and this is exactly that.


Cid Corman was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1924. A selection of Corman's poetry from the 80s and 90s, Nothing/Doing was published by New Directions in 2000. Other projects include completing the five-volume set Of (Lapis Press), the trilogy The Despairs, The Exaltations and The Silences (Cedar Hills Press). As the editor of the seminal poetry journal Origin, Corman published work by Robert Creeley, Charles Olson, Louis Zukofsky, George Oppen and Gary Snyder.

Photo from Jacket2

When did you get your start as a poet?

The first day I started to write poetry was the 21st of December 1941, two weeks after Pearl Harbor, a Sunday. I began on that day and I have written every day since then. I don't think there's another poet in history who can say this. And it means, of course, that I have written more poetry than any human being ever before, or probably ever will again. I write a book of poems every day - that means I write more poems in one day than Philip Larkin could in his best year.

It must take a long time to edit.

Oh yes, that's the real chore. To put together 125 pages of poetry, I have to go through 10,000 pages of poetry, at least. I started in 1941, but it took me until 1950 to write my first real poem - what I regard as my first real poem, which is "An Orthodoxy," which is in Of, which is about my grandmother. It was the poem from which I began to feel that I was doing what I could do. So it took me that long and then I went to Europe, and suddenly, so many things were happening to me.

An Orthodoxy The truth of it is a fastening, as a wick fastened in a glass of wax gathers its light, a dying within a death. As my grandmother in a world hardly her own, alone and kind, her home her synagogue, holds my frozen hands in hers (rubbing the blood up) under the running tap.

You went to France on a Fulbright [grant] with the intention of recording French poets?

Right. All they had - you must remember tape recorders were just coming in - was a wire recorder. But I knew from the start that I would never use it for recording French poets because it wasn't professional enough. I thought, "What am I going to do with this machine? Hey, why don't I try inventing a poem on this thing?" This was in 1954. So in the middle of the wire, I started to improvise poems.

And you went on to use this technique quite a bit, right?

Yes. But my style is not like rap poetry because rap poetry is largely rehearsed in advance. My way of working is absolutely empty, nothing, no plan whatsoever. There's no doctoring of the stuff: I don't change anything, even the blank spots I leave in. But oral poetry is so completely different from written work that you can't write it down on the page. And it's not a performance - it's speaking to somebody from heart to heart, from the deepest part of my being to the deepest part of someone else's. So what I write now is very close to that work. This is always my orientation, poetry that comes out of speaking language, not writing language.

So it was in Europe that something crystallized. Then you got a teaching position after applying at 27 different universities?

Well, no. I tried at 15 different places:14 in India, one in Japan. I wanted to come to Asia because I wanted to see it before it changed, became too American, too Western. India seemed to be the obvious place. Plus, I used to draw maps of India when I was young; sometimes I say it was because it looked like a woman's breast. My contact in Kyoto was Gary Snyder. At the time, Gary had only published a handful of poems in a Canadian magazine, where I had a very close friend. And so I wrote to Gary. He was leaving Japan at that point. He gave my letter to a friend of his, who was teaching here in Kyoto, and he got me the job.

One of the pluses of living in Japan is that silence is not something to be suspicious of.

[After] living in Japan for so many years, words like "silence" and "nothing" have taken on a positive tone for me. They're not negatives. But then, the negative words for me are the ones most people find positive. Words like "truth" and "reality" and "beauty" - these are all negative words for me, they're all really lies. They're us trying to kid ourselves into belief, but I don't believe anything because I don't doubt anything!

You have talked about your dislike of anthologies and you turned down a chance to be included in Donald Allen's The New American Poetry. If you had allowed more of your poems to be printed in them, wouldn't you have been better off?

I've done things that seem contrary to making things easy for myself, that is true. I've always done that. Shizumi [Corman's wife] thinks I'm crazy of course, and I guess I am in a way. It wasn't that I was looking for something hard, but I wanted to go with my life. And so this is almost a way of life because I've had other such opportunities and I've done the same thing over and over and over again. I didn't go into an anthology until New Directions, 1970, did my books. I'm not a beatnik, I'm not a Bohemian, I don't fall into any of the types and I don't belong to any particular school.

I think the things you write about are your attempts to make change in people.

Yes, not so much to make positive change, but to help people live what they are going to have to live. To live and die. That's what's given us. I just wrote today, "No human being ever chose to live/We live because life wants us to." And this is the truth of it - it isn't a truth, it's just the way it is. These words are always with capital letters, sooner or later, and this is killing. It's like "God," which is a killing idea because it makes us God. We have to realize, if we want to mute the word, that everything is God. Even nothing is God. To mute ourselves, we have to realize that we tend to exaggerate ourselves. Every life form is trying to become bigger than it is, at all times. This is part of the life process. And of course, if you live long enough, you find yourself shrinking. Not shrinking from it, but just shrinking anyway. (laughs)

Where do you see yourself in the scheme of contemporary American poetry?

I don't really think of myself in such a way. When I'd been away from America for six years already, a friend of mine said, "Why don't you come back to your home?" He said that Boston was my home and I should be coming back to it. But words like "exile" or "expatriate" don't make sense to me. My folks came from Russia to Boston. I came to Japan and this feels like home to me. America doesn't feel like home to me.

What I'm trying to say is that your place in poetry is being recognized by more people.

That would be true. I think there is a growing interest and I'm willing to feed into that. A friend of my older brother's wanted to do a spread for me in the New York Times. I said if you want to write about my poetry, beautiful. But writing about me means nothing. It's all in the poetry. Shakespeare has no biography and that's the beauty of Shakespeare. He is so completely in his work that it isn't necessary to have a biography; we know that his whole life is in there. I've discouraged publicity all my life. I want the attention now for the work. Although there are getting close to 150 books, that's only a fraction of my work. The bulk of my work probably nobody will ever see, they won't have time to see it. It takes time to digest. The words are simple, as usual, but there's much more happening. Every word has weight and meaning - more than meaning, it has feeling. And you have to live with it to really get what's happening in the words. They're offerings that you must respond to, if you can. I'm not telling you to be this way or that way. I'm just telling you the way I am, the way it feels, the way it is. Take it whatever way you can...

getting into the jazz Living is trite and death is banal. what is it all about if not to amuse the body for as long as it's about? Baseball - fudge - fucking - music - anything to wean the mind off what is happening and all that isn't. One and two and three

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