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Updated: Jan 30, 2022

Series co-produced by Anishka Sharma and TPJ Editor-in-Chief Jordan A. Y. Smith, following the work of poets in Japan and the U.S. experimenting with new poetic forms and activist poetry

The first program, Beneath and Beyond Tokyo, follows poet Nagae Yūki (featured in our Volume 4 and in √IC: Redux) who has taken inspiration from the genre of steric poetry to celebrate and explore how historical layers of Tokyo are all present in the city structure today. It also explores a theatrical poetry project, located in an app called "Tokyo Heterotopia," which aims to preserve the historic influence that Asian immigrants have had on Tokyo by geolocating audio of literary readings at specific landmarks around the city, creating a virtual audio tour for thousands of visitors. And finally, we hear poet Shiraishi Kazuko's sensual homage to the city, entitled “My Tokyo”. Audio production by Darin Dahlinger and with a poetry mix by Jae Bordley.

The second program, Rewriting Humanity, is a creative audio documentary (featured on our blog and in V10) on poetry workshops by Michico Ryo for inmates at a juvenile prison in Japan and about workshops held by Seth Michelson at immigrant detention centers in the U.S.

Also co-produced with Anishka Sharma for Whistledown Productions with audio from Darin Dahlinger.

The Soundcloud page has been live since ToPoJo's early days and features a string of collaborative performances by Jeffrey Johnson of his Conjurers Dream of Voyage volume, various readings from Volume 3, and more.

Check it out when you need some poetry in your audio space!

Meeting Jeffrey Johnson on the street in Setagaya on a sunny afternoon in October, you’d be forgiven for assuming he’s a moderately normal, well-adjusted man. He sports a neatly trimmed goatee and is dressed in the quietly suave manner befitting a professor of literature at Sophia University: well-fitted jeans, a black T-shirt, spotless white sneakers. We actually talk about the weather for the first couple minutes, I kid you not (my fault; I was totally the instigator of this).

But soon we have ascended the sketchy, graffiti-splattered elevator to a rooftop café called A-Bridge, settled in with our drinks, and I ask him about growing up in the pseudo-slums of Minnesota on West 7th Street. Jeffrey turns those dancing green eyes my way and confesses, “We used to steal stuff from the junkyard and get chased by Dobermans.” Instantly the air in the room changes and I know exciting things are going to happen during this conversation. He goes on to explain that he and his hoodlum friends didn’t want to get caught with too much hot cash so they’d spend the take as quickly as possible on “frivolous shit”. Like what? “Like riding around in taxi cabs.” And just like that, I have a new hero.

To read the full interview, go to Joy Waller's blog.

You can purchase Jeffrey Johnson's new book of poems “Conjurers Dream of Voyage” here.

Book launch party: 11.20.2021 2 pm @ J’z Bar (details here).

  • Writer's pictureTokyo Poetry Journal

Born in the pandemic, Tokyo Poetry Journal Volume 10 took much longer to emerge from the chaos we’ve all been in. Created as a ray of light in dark times of the 2020 mid-pandemic summer, V10 was delivered to the world one year later. On July 24, 2021, we gathered in the safest place one can go in a metropolis right now – the park.

ToPoJo editors, contributors and loyal supporters came together to read poetry, play music, dance and bask in the afternoon sun. Uncharacteristic for Japan’s sweltering summer, the day of Topojo Vol.10 Lazy Launch was one with a fluttering breeze.

Readers included Oshima Takeo (Poetry Slam Japan champion), Steven Karl, Todd Silverstein, Ryan Dzelzkalns, Simon Scott, Taylor Mignon, Jordan A. Y. Smith, Zoria Petkoska, Mat Chiappe, Joy Waller, and Eri Hara.

From top left: Jordan A.Y. Smith, Oshima Takeo, Steven Karl, and Taylor Mignon

Taylor Mignon also performed a poem accompanied by Joan Anderson on flute, and a collaborative poem co-written with Zoria Petkoska.

Todd Silverstein's poem "Fugue" was performed by four different voices, circling around the audience and creating a 360 degree theater stage feeling.

Ryan Dzelzkalns and Simon Scott, reading Todd Silverstein's poem

More photos from the event:

You can still get a copy of ToPoJo Vol.10. Just go to our online store here.

*All photos by Simon Scott

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