martes, 22 de septiembre de 2015

TAKAKO ARAI [17.118] Poeta de Japón

Takako ARAI 

(Kiryū, prefectura de Gunma, Japón, 1966). Poeta, crítica literaria, docente de japonés para extranjeros. Proviene de una familia dedicada a la manufactura textil (típica de su región). Revista como profesora asociada de poesía japonesa en la Universidad de Saitama. Publicó tres poemarios: Hao-bekki, (1997), Tamashii dansu (2007) –parcialmente traducido al inglés como Soul Dances-, y Betto to Shokki, (2013). Ha recibido la 41va. edición del Premio Oguma Hideo. Desde 1998 colabora y eventualmente actúa como editora general de Mi’Te, revista de poesía y crítica literaria.

Cuando surge la luna

Es el turno de noche en la hilandería abandonada
en la que solo hay una bombilla
y los tornos de hilar giran solos
cachán, era el sonido
de las bobinas cuando las cambiaban
el lugar fue clausurado
hace ya una década
pero el trabajo empieza cuando sale la luna
su extraña automatización
dicen que poco después de la guerra
quedó atrapado en una máquina el cabello
de una obrera que así perdió la vida,
pero este no es trabajo de fantasmas
aunque esas cosas flotan en el aire
aquí en la fábrica
donde hay hábitos peculiares
lo que quiero decir
es que quedan costumbres peculiares
la anciana que aquí hiló cuarenta y cuatro años
se moja aún la punta del índice y enrolla
ni en su lecho de muerte
pudo huir de ese gesto
y así en el otro mundo ha de seguir
pues son tan infinitamente delgados esos hilos
que se introducen en el cuerpo del operario
y lo poseen
y así
desde los dedos de la obrera
el hilo de seda cruda
jalado suavemente
danza luego sin fin
la fábrica es así también
el eje de la rueda cuando hila
las moléculas de acero
cuelgan sus cabezas en la
dirección en que hilan
luego son atrapadas
se echan a andar,
cuando la luz de luna se derrama
no es la pleamar lo único colmado

los tornos de hilar giran
los hilos nadan
en la fábrica abandonada

Traducción de Aurelio Asiain


新井高子(ARAI Takako)



Takako Arai
(translated by Jeffrey Angles)

Give Us Morning

Morning is the time we count the dead
In the newspapers, in the hospitals, on the roads, on the seashores
In the rubble that was once our homes
Possess us all the more, Amenouzume-san
The morning is still not enough
We still cannot count them all
We still cannot carry them all
Dance more for us, Amenouzume-san
Put a green twig in your hair
And call out to them
Give the dead
To morning
Possess them, call out to them

               It’s me, the girl floating here this whole time
               It’s me, Mama’s boy crouched down
               It’s me, the boy with the right arm wrenched off
               I want to see you again, I want to see you again
               A bullet to the temple
               I scratch my throat, it hurts
               Now I’m sinking as far as I can go
               Why? Why was I the boy
               Blown aside by the bomb blast?
               The fingers of flame came in no time
               I struggle but there’s only sand, I struggle but there’s only sand
               One lung was crushed by the ceiling
               Left alone like this, where will I float?
               I wait for an extended hand
               Here I am, here I am
               I want to escape this blood-bathed school
               With my girlish eyes still open wide
               I know this is my last breath
               I am fed up with the roar of the bombs
               The sea has raised its clenched fist

Morning is the time we count the dead
On the TV news, in the embassies, in the community centers
In the rubble that was once our buildings and our mosques
Possess us all the more, Amenouzume-san
The morning is still not enough
The morning is still not enough
The morning is still not enough
Dance for us all the more, Amenouzume-san
Claw the milk from your breast, shake your hair wildly
Pound your feet on the ground
And dance
Spin your arms round, shake off your sweat
Bend back your neck
And dance, dance
Sway your spine, lift your legs
Shake your hips
Set your womanly shadow on fire
Open your womanly shadow
And call for them
And dance for them
And possess them
And gather
The dead
To the shadow

Give them to morning
Give us morning
The time we count the corpses

Translator's Note: This poem was born out of Arai's reaction to Iraq War, the tsunami in the Indian Ocean, and many other events in 2004 that filled turned newspaper headlines into daily casualty reports.  Amenouzume is a mythical Japanese goddess, the goddess of dance and performance. She is said to have lured, with her dance, Amaterasu out of seclusion in the rock cave. Magatama are curved beads which were often found in graves, as offerings to deities. They were also popularly worn as jewels for decoration, their physical shape being a representation of the human spirit. The suffix san appended to Amenouzume’s name is a polite expression that shows respect, roughly equivalent to “Missus” in English or “Madame” in French. The words “womanly shadow” that appear toward the end of the poem is a euphemism for the vagina.  

This translation is included in the book Soul Dance (Tokyo: Mi'Te Press, 2008).

Clusters of Falling Stars

Just how many millions of e-mails
Could have been deleted?


The dye factory that Asako's father had owned was put up for auction
Two months after the change in leadership
At the branch office of the bank
It was the rules of the free market
That had crushed the local factories bound with loans
But she was fourteen when she learned
It was speculation that determined
In which order the hatchet would fall

The golden boy of the day, IT company CEO Horie Takafumi was arrested
Nine months after the change in the section chief
At the Special Investigations Unit of the Tokyo Prosecutor's Office
It was the rules of the Security Exchange Law
That had governed the price fixing of company stocks
But Asako thought it was speculation that determined
In which order the hatchet would fall

"You can sweat but still don't get ahead," her father had said
"You can buy people's hearts with money," Horie had said
"I want to expose a case that'll enrage all of you who sweat for a living," the section chief had said
                         In the end, with this arrest,
                    Did they investigate
               The companies swollen
          From buying up other corporations
     With the speed the investigation deserved?

She heard that well over a hundred computers and cell phones were collected
She heard that was because all the important transactions were done by e-mail
She heard that two hours before the police came in it was leaked to the news
She heard that the investigators were fretting that most of the evidence was gone
She heard that some of it had already been disposed of

Just how many millions of e-mails
Could have been deleted?
Asako thinks to herself
Perhaps an astronomical number
They must have deliberately hit delete countless times
So the e-mails would never be found again
It must have been quite the busy week
For the company which fortunately avoided
Being number one on the speculation block


What do you wish for
When wishing upon a shower
Of falling electric stars?
She heard Horie once wrote
"Number One in the World"
On a card for Tanabata
If you look up
Right there
Tonight once again
There will be the flashes of another
Tremendous cluster of falling stars

Translator's Note: In this poem, Arai refers to the collapse of the textile industry of her own hometown of Kiryū in Gunma Prefecture, as well as the arrest of the young CEO and television personality Horie Takafumi.  Horie's company Livedoor had bought up massive amounts of stock in media-related companies, so when he was arrested for securities fraud in 2006, it became a national media event.  Tanabata, sometimes called the “Star Festival” in English, is held during the summer. On that day, people write their wishes on long cards and hang them on a sprig of bamboo. 

Colored Glass

I'll raise it in my tummy
I'll break it
Squashing the bitter worm in my teeth
If I swallow it down
I doubt I'll spit out a moth
Or that it'll fly out as a butterfly
I suppose it'll stay a silkworm spitting out silk forever

                         Maybe it'll become a spinning wheel turning its own neck
                    The axle letting out a rhythmic rattle under the sawtooth roof
               Its arm extended as it turns itself
          Its knees shaking ever so slightly

I'll swallow it down
The silkworm
Down the well of my throat
Where it rebounds in the pit of my stomach
This little worm will spit out a lifeline
And crawl from the watery depths
Forgetting its dreams of flying through the air

                        In this strange factory, the worm spins in the spinning wheel
                   The raw silk thread winding around before our eyes
              The scissors slip in, and it is bound up tightly
         Pulse throbbing from the effort

Warawara    Are you inviting the thread?
          Carried away
Somosomo    Are you touching the thread?
          Laughed at
Sawasawa     Are you lining up the thread?
Moshimoshi     Are you resentful of the thread? 
Sing: Roll your hands     round and round     pull your eyes flat
          Roll your hands     round and round     pull your eyes flat
          Roll your hands     round and round    pull your eyes out

I swallowed it!
The eternal silkworm
On its mission forever
Crawling through the labyrinth of my bowels
The bitter worm squashed in my teeth
In the rustling thread it spins
It ties itself up
And sleeps

It cannot sleep,
I cannot sleep,
Sing: Roll your hands     round and round     pull your eyes flat
          Roll your hands     round and round     pulled my eyes out
I hold it over my head

                        There is a factory floating like an isle inside
                    It head turns round and round
               While the blind silkworms glow
          Under the colored glass window

Translator's Note: The poem represents the author's reaction to the collapse of the silk and textile industry in her hometown of Kiryū in Gunma Prefecture, once a major Japanese center of textile production.  In this poem, Arai imagines a person swallowing a silkworm, which begins to grow and creates its own silk factory inside her stomach.  The poem was inspired by the Japanese expression "Nigamushi o kamitubusu," which literally means "to squash a bitter bug in your teeth," but is used to describe someone's expression when they are making a frown or grimace. 
               Many of the textile factories in Kiryū had roofs that zigzag up and down like the teeth on a saw, hence the phrase "saw tooth roof" (nokogiri-yane) used in the poem.  Glass windows would then be placed on one side of each "tooth" of the roof to let in light.  In the final stanza, Arai imagines a mini-silk factory floating in the narrator's stomach, the colored glass in the saw tooth roof illuminating the interior. 
               The lines "roll your hands, round and round, pull your eyes flat" (kaiguri kaiguri totto no me) are from a children's game.  The child rolls their hands around one another as if they are rolling up thread on their hands like a spinning wheel, then after that, they pull at the corner of their eyes.  Arai creates a variation on this song, imagining that the narrator pulls her own eyes out. 

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