Yasuhiro Yotsumoto
(Japan, 1959)   
Yasuhiro Yotsumoto

Yasuhiro Yotsumoto was born in Osaka, Japan, in 1959 and grew up mostly in Hiroshima. Although he was writing poetry in his teens, it was paradoxically only after he moved to Philadelphia in 1986 as a business expatriate and immersed himself in the English language environment that he started fully engaging himself with writing poetry in his native Japanese language. 

His first collection of poetry A Laughing Bug (『笑うバグ』, 1991), based partly on his studies in the MBA program at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, employ financial and accounting theories as a framework for his portrait of Japanese society in the post-Cold War, bubble-economy era. So far, he has published 11 collections, each with varying subjects, such as mid-life crisis (The World Congress of Middle Aged, 『世界中年会議』, which received the Yamamoto Kenichi Award, 2002); childhood memories through popular Manga characters (Golden Hour, 『ゴールデンアワー』, 2004); and married life (My Wife’s Starboard, 『妻の右舷』, 2006). 
The dynamic, and often conflicting, relationship between poetry and living is another theme that Yotsumoto pursues through his writing, sometimes alone (Afternoon of Forbidden Words, 『噤みの午後』, recipient of the Hagiwara Sakutaro Award, 2003), and sometimes in collaboration with other poets (Poetry vs. Living, co-authored with Masayo Koike, 『対詩・詩と生活』, 2005, and The Muddy Calendar, co-authored with Inuo Taguchi,『泥の暦』, 2008).
In recent years, Yotsumoto explored the relationship between consciousness, language and poetry through the linguistically experimental poems seen in Hijacking Logos (『言語ジャック』, 2010) and Prisoner of Japanese (『日本語の虜囚』,  winner of the Ayukawa Nobuo Award, 2012).

His latest publication is Modern Japan Poetry Journal (『現代ニッポン詩(うた)日記』, 2015), which includes poems published in Japanese newspapers over the past 10 years dealing with everyday news topics, including short essays, and The Trilingual Renshi, 36 linked poems written with Kim Hyesoon from Korea, Ming Di from China, and Shuntaro Tanikawa from Japan.
While his own poems have been translated into more than 20 languages, including English (Family Room, Vagabond Press, 2010), Yotsumoto himself translates works of numerous poets in Japanese, both classic figures such as Li Po, Dante, Rilke and Emily Dickinson, and contemporary poets. His translation of Kid by Simon Armitage (with co-translator Nobuaki Tochigi) was published in Japan in 2008. Other translation works will be published later this year.
Yotsumoto also writes fiction, essays and literary criticism. In 2012, he published Shuntarology (『谷川俊太郎学』), a thesis on the poetics of Shuntaro Tanikawa. Earlier in 2015, his first novel, The Fake Poet (『偽詩人の世にも奇妙な栄光』) and the collected essays To Dear Poets! (『詩人たちよ!』) were published simultaenously.

Yotsumoto has been the Japanese national editor of Poetry International since 2006, introducing contemporary Japanese poetry through English translations. Since 2008, he has also been on the editorial board of a poetry magazine Beagle in Japan.

Yotsumoto has been away from Japan since 1986 and has lived in Munich, Germany, for the past 21 years.

© Yasuhiro Yotsumoto


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