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This report is taken from PN Review 220, Volume 41 Number 2, November - December 2014.

The Weather in Tokyo Paul Rossiter
There have long been English-language poets at work in Japan, mostly in Tokyo or in the Kansai area of western Japan. Some of these are Japanese writers who choose to use English, a tradition that goes back at least as far as Nishiwaki Junzaburō, whose first two collections, Spectrum (London, 1925) and Poems Barbarous (Tokyo, 1930), were written in English; a greater number of these writers, however, are long-term resident Anglophone poets, of whom the late Cid Corman is the most famous.

From at least the 1980s on, writers in Tokyo have been supported by a series of small presses, the earliest of which, TELS Press, was a cooperative operating under the aegis of the rather grandly named Tokyo English Literature Society – in fact, an informal writers’ workshop which met once a month in a municipal building in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo. The society also had a journal, Printed Matter, which published work by workshop members and others; founded in 1977 as an A4 mimeographed bimonthly, it went through various incarnations, culminating in the early 1990s in a sleek, well-printed, well-designed quarterly, and then in two blockbuster 250-page, A4-sized annuals in 1998 and 1999. In due course, the magazine spawned Printed Matter Press, which published six volumes of poetry (including my own first book) between 1991 and 1999. The magazine ceased publication in 1999, but the press – now privately owned – still exists, occasionally publishing work mostly in a neo-beat or spoken-word style.

Another press operating from the 1980s and into the twenty-first century ...

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