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Five Haiku by Suzuki Shizuko Translated from Japanese

These haiku by Japanese poet Suzuki Shizuko were originally published in her first haiku collection, Shunrai (Spring Thunder), in 1946. A postwar poet, Shizuko’s work blends traditional seasonal motifs with the harsh realities of life in Allied Occupied Japan. After Shizuko’s second haiku collection Yubiwa (The Ring) was published in 1952, she disappeared and her whereabouts continue to be a mystery. The poems were translated from the Japanese by Brianna Noll.
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rain on new leaves
the government railway lines
run side by side

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coldest time of year
at Tokyo station
waiting for someone

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Tokyo,
I vow to share your fate.
Is this the height of summer?

(violent bombing)

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scorching sun
burning leaves of sense
lingering in the air

raid shelter (August 15, 1945, the Japanese Imperial Army surrenders)

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my love for
the Tokyo of those days
a distant galaxy

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About the author



Suzuki Shizuko was born in Tokyo in 1919, and though many details of her life are well documented, much is unknown. She began publishing haiku in the journal Jukai (Sea of Trees) around 1938, and her first haiku collection, Shunrai (Spring Thunder), was published in 1946. Her work reflects the conditions of the Allied Occupation of Japan following WWII, mixing traditional seasonal themes with frank depictions of labor, love, sex work, and drug abuse in haiku that often exceed or curtail the typical 5-7-5 syllabic pattern. After the publication of her second collection, Yubiwa (The Ring), in 1952, Shizuko disappeared and her whereabouts have remained a mystery.







About the author

Brianna Noll is the author of The Price of Scarlet, selected by Lisa Williams as the inaugural poetry collection in the University Press of Kentucky’s New Poetry and Prose Series. She is Poetry Editor of The Account, which she helped found, and her poems have appeared widely in journals including the Kenyon Review Online, The Georgia Review, 32 Poems, Prairie Schooner, and Crazyhorse. She lives in Los Angeles.

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