Tokyo Poetry Journal Women's Poetry Reading: March 2023
Committed to sharing and uplifting the myriads of poetic voices across different languages, nationalities, genders and generations, the Tokyo Poetry Journal shined an additional spotlight on women in poetry on March 25 in honor of International Women's Day and Women's Month.
The event took place at the cozy Ryozan Park Lounge in Sugamo. Tokyo Poetry Journal editor emeritus Barbara Summerhawk kicked off the night reading poetry by the Iranian poet Nassarine as well as poems by Yosano Akiko recited from memory. We also heard some of her own fantastic poetry, before introducing a new friend of ToPoJo's, Silje Ree.
Silje took us through the multilingual intricacies of speaking Norwegian and English through her poetry, as well as sharing her visual poetry with the audience later throughout the evening.
The first set was closed by Rachel Ferguson who encapsulated three themes in her reading: women, poetry and home(sickness). She introduced us to the selkie – a shapeshifting creature from Scottish mythology – in one of her poignant poems.
Extraordinary poet and head of Japan Kotoba Slam Poetry, Miki Yuuri opened the second set and ToPoJo's editor Jordan A.Y. Smith read his translations of Miki Yuuri's poems. They gave us a moving heartfelt bilingual performance, followed by a tri-lingual poetry reading where ToPoJo editor Mat Chiappe joined to read in Spanish. He read a poem by Argentinian poet Alejandra Pizarnik followed by a translation in English and in Japanese, read by Jordan and Miki respectively.
Bottom right corner photo courtesy of al mccuskerthompson
The second set was rounded by ToPoJo editor Zoria Petkoska K. who read poems by Macedonian poet Svetlana Hristova Jocikj. She then read poetry dedicated to other poets who have inspired her to keep writing. The final poem was dedicated to the Tokyo poetry scene and taken from her futuristic experimental cyber(punk) Instagram poetry series under the #commutepoems hashtag.
The final set for the evening was opened by Quenby Aoki, a member of the Tokyo poetry scene that we know and love. Her performance was a blend of free verse and haiku touching upon themes of women, motherhood, life, disasters and more. Quenby was followed by Vera Chirino who chose to read a poem by famous Cuban poet Dulce María Loynaz. She read the original in Spanish, after telling the sad story of the poet's secluded life.
Finally, to close the evening, ToPoJo's PR representative Joan Anderson read “Liberation” – a touching poem by Ghanaian poet Abena Busia. That was followed by her own poem titled "VCV Voices Can Disarm the World" – a celebration of womanhood written originally for an event by the VCV collective.
Here are more photos from the wonderful audience who came out despite heavy rain and the great atmosphere they helped create.