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This review is taken from PN Review 104, Volume 21 Number 6, July - August 1995.

BRUSH STROKES Evening Clearing: Poems and Drawings from the Mountain by Kajima Shozo, translated by Glenn Glasow and Kakudo Yoshiko (Cadence Books, P.O. Box 77010, San Francisco, California, U.S.A. 94107)

In the 1970s, the poet and scholar Kajima Shozo bought a cottage in a valley deep in the mountains of central Honshu, the largest island of the Japanese archipelago. Spending a considerable part of each year there, he has devoted himself to the art of sansui, literally 'mountains and water', painting the landscapes around his cottage with radiant commitment and consummate artistry.

Well known in Japan as the translator of William Faulkner, Kajima also collaborated on the Penguin Book of Post-War Japanese Poetry. He was himself a prominent member of the influential Arechi (Waste Land) group of poets who set themselves the task of finding a correctly modern idiom for Japanese poetry.

His new collection Bansei (Evening Clearing) appeared in Japanese in 1985 to great acclaim. His paintings have been exhibited in Tokyo galleries since that time. Several of these have been beautifully reproduced in this volume.

Bansei (95 pages) consists of twenty meditations on love and solitude. The whole book encapsulates a traditional Oriental way of dealing with art and philosophy as the poems are rooted in commonsense observation and never lose sight of the quirkiness of everyday living while the paintings concentrate not only on the spectacular natural scenery round the cottage but also a humble pumpkin or one flower in an earthenware pot. The volume is a superbly produced artefact and any reader will turn to it again and again to savour the honesty and insight revealed in the poems. ...


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