Beneath the Sleepless Tossing of the Planets: Selected Poems

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Product Details

Kurodahan Press
Publish Date
5.5 X 8.5 X 0.44 inches | 0.55 pounds

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About the Author

Makoto Ōoka (1931-2017) was the premier poet and critic of his generation in Japan and known abroad as an emissary of Japanese poetry and culture. By the time Ōoka was twenty-five, his first books-one of poems and one of criticism-had established him as a spokesman for contemporary poetry. He often visited Europe, Asia, and the United States, introducing Japanese poetry traditional and modern to foreign audiences through readings and lectures at the Collège de France, Harvard, Columbia, and Princeton Universities, and literary festivals. A major area of activity was linked verse, based on the traditional Japanese poetic form of renga. In the 1970s, Ōoka began experiments with this collaborative form in Japan and his pioneering endeavors soon brought him into contact with poets around the world. Ōoka's works have also been translated into Chinese, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Korean, Macedonian, and Spanish.
Janine Beichman is Professor Emerita of Japanese Literature at Daito Bunka University in Tokyo. She has published widely as a biographer of Japanese poets, most notably of Masaoka Shiki and Yosano Akiko. In addition to Ishigaki Rin, she has translated other significant Japanese poets, including Ōoka Makoto, whose selected poems in English, Beneath the Sleepless Tossing of the Planets: Selected Poems 1972-1989, appeared from Kurodahan Press in 2018; she also collaborated with Ōoka on wide-ranging anthologies of Japanese poetry in English translation. She has received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, and America PEN, and is a winner of the 2019 - 2020 Japan-United States Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature.


  • of Japan's most celebrated artists and intellectuals.
    --The New York Times
  • Ōoka Makoto is a distinguished poet... [and] a major critic of poetry, perhaps the finest in Japan
    --Donald Keene
  • How young and fresh these poems of Ōoka are! Full of joy and excitement, they fuse the ancient tradition of Japanese poetry with the modernism and surrealism of the West. Through Beichman's translucent translations, polished over 25 years, they are now given a new life for all of us to share on this sleepless and tossing planet.
    --Yasuhiro Yotsumoto, poet, Hagiwara Sakutarō Award
  • The kinship of voice and temperament between poet and translator gives outstanding value to these translations. Spanning most of Ōoka Makoto's career, they illumine the richness of his oeuvre. Ōoka's spirit is vividly alive here. Coming so close to this poet's very essence is an overwhelming experience.
    --Masaya Saito, poet, author of Snow Bones, Asahi Haiku Shinjin Award for haiku sequence "Gasshō" (Hands Together in Prayer)
  • Many of Ōoka Makoto's poems are short and condensed; while they come across as philosophical, surrealistic, and nonchalant at the same time, in many cases they also straightforwardly describe a reality. They exist in the space between classical tanka and haiku poetry and modernist poetry of the Imagists. Janine Beichman, who is a poet and scholar of Japanese literature, delves deeply into the inner world of the poet and his works. Her translation brings out the profound insight hidden in the poems, casting a brilliant light on the skills the poet consciously develops to create his unique texts.
    --Noriko Mizuta, poet, Cikada Prize in Poetry, Director of International Institute for Media and Women's Studies
  • Ōoka Makoto was a distinguished critic of Japanese poetry and a superb poet himself.
    He drew on both the centuries-old traditions of the Japanese waka and twentieth-century Western poetry, from surrealism to high modernism. In this collection, he is well served once again by the highly skillful translations of Dr. Janine Beichman, who worked with him closely during his lifetime. Dr. Beichman's English versions are faithful to the originals and at the same time creative in finding new means of expressing the spirit of the poems. It has been said that "It takes a poet to translate poetry," and this splendid collection is evidence of that.
    --Paul McCarthy, Professor Emeritus, Surugadai University, Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature
  • Through the richness of Ooka's work we find once again the abundance of our spiritual and natural heritage
    --Shuntarō Tanikawa