Killing Kanoko by Hiromi Ito
New this week from Action Books, another important and blood-baked translation, a sublime meld of grotesque and giddy, which takes its mistakably blunt (and therefore, reversely compelling, and then compelling) title in reference to the author’s actual daughter, Kanoko:
by Hiromi Ito (translated by Jeffrey Angles)
I want to get rid of Kanoko
I want to get rid of filthy little Kanoko
I want to get rid of or kill Kanoko who bites off my nipples.
“KILLING KANOKO is a powerful, long-overdue collection (in finetranslation) of poetry from the radical Japanese feminist poet, HiromiIto. Her poems reverberate with sexual candor, the exigencies anddelights of the paradoxically restless/rooted female body, and the visceral imagery of childbirth leap off the page as performative modal structures–fierce, witty, and vibrant. Hiromi is a true sister of the Beats.”
“Father’s Uterus, Or The Map” on Action Yes.
“Harakiri” on Nerve.
Once again, Action Books delivers a much needed translation of a major foreign poet, getting these English versions into our bodies.
“Hiromi Ito, born in 1955 in Tokyo, is one of the most important and highly regarded poets in Japan. Since her sensational debut in the late 1970’s as a free-spirited and intelligent female poet with shamanisitic qualities, Ito has published more than 10 collections of poetry including such monumental works as Oume (Green Plums, 1982), Watashi wa Anjuhimeko de aru (I am Anjyuhimeko, 1993), and Kawara Arekusa (Wild Grass upon a Riverbank, 2005) which won the prestigious Takami Jun Award.”
I’ve been reading this book in bursts for over a month now and it’s already become one I keep going back to for the way the repetition of her sounds get in my hair and mouth. Being a big fan of baby destruction, these poems freak even me out, being an actual mother invoking her daughter’s body and birth experience in the most crushing and yet hilarious and moving forms.
Ito invokes the mother body, the body as map site, as destruction site, as repetition module, as network of networks and of sound. She speaks freely of masturbation and of death in the same breathing, making poems that work not to core out some central heart, but that are the heart: beating, squirting, sound in face. If I had found these instead of Ginsberg at 16 I might not still be alive, which to me at 30 is a gift.
Ito calls you out. Ito can gross out the gross outers, and yet not in the shock shlock maneuvers of flash film and violence for violence, but in being plain about it, in repeating, in pressing on you with through the paper, in an interiority, in saying what and where she is. I mean it made me sometimes go, “Goddamn. Jeez,” which is more than I can ask for at this point. This is a book of many years in one place; it goes.
Ito’s so serious she even has ringtones of her language. Beat that, America.
Here she is reading in Michigan: