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This report is taken from PN Review 69, Volume 16 Number 1, September - October 1989.

Takagi Kyozo: Local and Universal Poet James Kirkup
Some poets are inextricably a part of their natural surroundings, of the place where they were born. We cannot separate the poet and his personal vision of what to some may seem a very narrow world. Yet great poems spring from the most unlikely places - Clare in rustic Northamptonshire, Norman Nicholson in Millom, Takagi Kyozo in the harsh environment of northern Japan. Indeed, these three poets I have chosen exhibit certain resemblances to one another. They were all three, because of physical circumstances or personal preference, on the fringes of those 'movements' scholars strive to discern in the unclassifiable realms of poetry.

Not to belong to a literary fashion or to a self-publicizing group is one way for a poet to seek oblivion. This is especially so in Japan, where there are hundreds of poetry-writing groups, both large and small, well-known and insignificant. They publish their own coterie magazines, and if one does not belong to a certain group, one cannot get one's poems published in its magazine. This has had the effect of creating a very provincial and exclusive tone in much modern Japanese poetry - provincial and exclusive in the worst sense of the words. Yet some very fine poets have emerged from these literary mutual admiration societies. They would probably have succeeded, through force of perseverance and innate poetic gifts, whatever group they joined. The stimulus of foreign literary influences also help such poets to rise above the local into the universal.

Such ...


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