Friday, 8 March 2013

Poems for the Anniversary

I have a friend who writes senryu poetry. Like haiku, they're written in 17 syllables, 5,7,5, but whereas haiku are about nature, senryu are about people and are often ironic or satiric. The ones you hear in popular culture come across as funny one-liners but I'm told there's a lot more to the art than that. She's recently published a book and, with her permission, I reproduce here a few that she wrote at the time of the disaster two years ago. Please excuse my rough translations which do no justice to the succinct Japanese verse. I've also added notes to three of them.

Yume no yo, kyodai jishin ni yukiarashi
Like a dream, the huge earthquake and then a snowstorm
[I had the same experience. Minutes after the earthquake snow seemed to appear from nowhere. Weird.]

大震災 水が無い飯がない
Daishinsai, mizu ga nai meshi ga nai
Great disaster, no water, no food

Mikka sugi, shirasareta no wa hoshano
Three days later and we're told about radiation

大地震 賞味期限が忘れられ
Daijishin, shomi kigen wasurerare
Huge earthquake, best-before dates forgotten

Shiiberuto, niku sakana dame, atama dame
Sieverts, fish no good, meat no good, does your head in

お花見も原発騒ぎ 桜散る
O-hanami mo genpatsu sawagi, sakura chiru
Flower viewing time, uproar over the nuclear plant, the cherry blossom falls

Hinansaki Fukushima-ken ni giin kite
To the evacuation centres in Fukushima the politicians come
[I love this one. It's so typical. Even now the politicians come,  stay 10 minutes, have their photo taken and leave. With no real dialogue having taken place, people in temporary housing are left wondering why they bothered to visit.]

Fukushima ga Tohokudo de suterareru
Fukushima abandoned on the Tohoku Expressway
[You can take this any way you like but the writer told me this story. Shortly after the expressway reopened in May 2011, she was shocked to see bins at the service stations full to overflowing with boxes of food and cakes which had been given as presents. People frightened off by the  radiation had abandoned them as they left the prefecture.]

自然界 今日一日許してね
Shizenkai, kyo ichinichi  yurushite ne
Natural world, forgive us, just for today

Poems by Nakamura Yoshiko

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