My activities and publications have been introduced in media. Mariko Kitakubo

Mariko Kitakubo Profile

Mariko Kitakubo

Born in Tokyo.
Living in Mitaka-city, Tokyo
Japan Writers' Association,
Japan PEN Club,
Association of Contemporary Tanka Poets,
Japan Tanka Poets' Society,
Tanka Online Project,
Tanka Society of America.

Contemprary Tanka Poet Mariko Kitakubo. Media coverage.

"French Correspondence 36", a section in "KURENAI" Oct. 2012 (vol. 124)

Ms. Yasuko Kudaka, from whom I received lots of assistance when I visited France in Sept. 2012, contributed a wonderful article to "French Correspondence 36", a section in "KURENAI" Oct. 2012 (vol. 124),the tanka journal issued by Ms. Yoko Tamaki.It's really more honor than I deserve.

Below is the excerpted version of the article.

Sept. 21, Friday. Starting at 17:00, Japanese-French bilingual tanka reading performance session was held at the Centre Cultuel Italien in Quartier latin, Paris.Ms. Kitakubo chanted her own tanka in Japanese, and Mr. Antonio Francica, the Director of Centre Cultuel Italien, performed reading of the translated version of her works in French.

It was obvious that the translation was carefully done to refrect Ms. Kitakubo's message accurate. Audience expressed how much they were moved with their performance.

Since it was released as a Japanese-English bilingual event in the newsletter issued beforehand, many questions were asked to Ms. Kitakubo in English.
Some questions are,
"In which hierarchy in a society do those who read Tanka belong to?
Are they in a special circumstances?
Or, even common people write Tanka, too?"
"Do Emperor's family create Tanka?"
"When did Tanka started? How did it develop?"
"Are there any non-Japanese Haiku poets?
How about non-Japanese Tanka poets?"

There was a person who expressed how much he was moved.
"Ms. Kitakubo's Tanka is rooted from pure sincerity to wish for peace. I am deeply moved by her poems. I am filled with tranquility."

The more you hear or read her work, the deeper message you get from Ms. Kitakubo's tanka. For the purpose of interenationalization of Tanka, Ms. Kitakubo performed English-Japanese tanka reading many times in English-speaking countries.

I hope Tanka serves as a catalyst for the communication and interaction between Japanese-French, and with other language speakers. I sincerely wish it helps to create world's peace.

*I am so greatful to the assisntance of Mr. Metwally "Tsukasa" Gamal and Ms. Yasuko Kudaka for their amazing translation work into French.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My tanka will be used at the concert to be held at “Ohmi Gakudo” hall in Tokyo Opera City.
It is a great offer from Ms. Yumi Nakamura, a music composer. She has been telling me she wants to put melody to my tanka for some time.

Concert for Grownups

Date & Time August 24, Friday 15:00
Place “Ohmi Gakudo” hall, 3rd Floor Tokyo Opera City
Music Yumi Nakamura (Music Composer)
Lyrics Mariko Kitakubo (Tanka Poet)
Vocal Hideyuki Niki (Baritone Singer)

I am truly happy at the very thought that my tanka works accompanied by wonderful music fill “Ohmi Gakudo”, a concert hall designed with the inspiration of chapel. I would like to extend my gratitude to Ms. Nakamura and Mr. Niki.
For the details, please refer to ACCEL web site.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Received a certificate from Tanka Society of America for The Tanka Cafe Member’s Choice Tanka. This is a great honor for me!


Saturday, July 7, 2012

TV program in Japan Broadcasting Corporation.

My tanka will be introduce a tv program in Japan Broadcasting Corporation.

an announcement.

date May.27.2012 pm6:00~6:25
  May.29.2012 pm3:00~3:25
program NHK-Tanka
broadcasting station Japan Broadcasting Corporation
website NHK-Tanka

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Tanka Online Project

Through the courtesy of Ms. Jeanne Emrich, three pages of my tanka will be publicized in Tanka Online Project. I am honored to be able to participate in such a great project.
Please click here to move to Tanka Online Project.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Australian Poetry

Australian Poetry website introduces the conversation and Tanka reading with Ms. Beverley at the English Tanka workshop held in Australia in August, 2011.
Please click here to move to Australian Poetry website.


Monday, August 15, 2011

the wind
off the Colorado River
unties my hair—
I'd like to die
a tourist

Mariko Kitakubo. the wind. from TSA Ribbons Vol.6 #4.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

"Jiyu-Jizai" published by Juken Kenkyu Sha.

A popular study guide for senior children at elementary school introduced my tanka in the section of poetry appreciation.
I am very honored to be selected as one of the 23 poets whose works I studied in the textbooks when I was a student.

My tanka introduced:
I hear a voice
telling me I should
shed my husk,
let myself
be born anew

23 poets introduced:
Kakinomotono Hitomaro Motoori Norinaga Kitahara Hakushu
Empress Jito Ryokan Yosano Akiko
Yamanoueno Okura Masaoka Shiki Tawara Machi
Yamabeno Akahito Ishikawa Takuboku Kitakubo Marikoこ
Kino Tomonori Ito Sachio Terayama Shuji
Fujiwarano Toshiyuki Shimaki Akahiko Kato Jiro
Minamotono Sanetomo Saito Mokichi Homura Hiroshi
Oota Doukan Wakayama Bokusui  

Saturday, January 1, 2011

My reading performance photo was inserted in the article written by Mr. Hiroshi Shionozaki, the former secretary general of the Japan Tanka Poets' Society and the former chief editor of Tanka Journal.


Friday, January 15, 2010

The Society of Women Writers NSW Inc. official newsletter "Images"
December 2009 - January 2010 Issue

Articles on the 4th Haiku Pacific Rim "Wind Over Water" in Terrigal, Australia and the 6th International Tanka Festival, Tokyo.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

10 pieces of my tanka was included in Kadokawa's "Contemporary Tanka Corpus."

media_2009_11_30.jpg  media_2009_11_30_02.jpg       Vol. 1 LIVELIHOOD
Vol. 2 LIFE

I am very much honored that my works are included in Kadokawa's "Contemporary Tanka Corpus", which is the encyclopedia of 3,000 tanka poems by 1,600 poets.

-threnody- (mourning deceased mother)

sun shining
into corners of the glass door -
leaving behind
an unfinished letter,
Mother departed this life

-food- (jam)

standing there,
its back to the dining-table
where there's peach jam,
casts no shadow

Vol. 2 LIFE
-juvenile- (boy)

has the green fish
been living
inside of me
since my son first
fell in love?

-married couple/parent and child- (loving mother)

while I gaze at the sky
I'm thinking
of hydraulics, of what
my boy is studying

-family- (father)

I'm forgetting
those letters in the Cold Forest,
so stealthily
did my father

-seasons & nature- (winter)

way up high
in a bare tree
winter has come
bringing with it
letters for the deceased

-seasons & nature- (stars)

an accident
of birth:
on this same star
trees, wild beasts,
fish, people

-history & current news- (deserted village)

tranquilly ashes
continue to fall
on this ruined village
where like a scream
the silence shines

-country- (Tanzania)

how delightful are
Tanzanian place names:
comes rolling
out of my atlas

Monday, November 30, 2009

Oct. 11, 2009 I will perform Tanka reading at the 6th International Tanka Festival in Tokyo 2009.

Date & Time: October 11, 2009 Starting at 10.30
Place: Meiji Jingu Shrine, Sanshuden Hall
Organizer: Nihon Kajin Club

Friday, November 20, 2009

Mariko Kitakubo Tanka Reading Collection "Messages"

Produced an audio CD of my tanka reading collection, "Messages.
The CD includes more than sixty tanka from "On This Same Star" and "Cicada Forest" categorized in five themes. Prepackaged bilingual booklet also shows phonetic spelling of Japanse tanka. I hope it turns out to be helpful for those who are not farmiliar with Japanese letters.

Price: US$15.00

e-mail query:

Saturday, October 10, 2009

as if I am
repairing my feelings
a bit at a time
I paint my nails
slowly and carefully

in the deep silence
of scorching midday heat,
my mother's spine
our wartime defeat

on a far-off sandhill
you shade your eyes--
I want to be
that small object
in your gaze

I have no way
of being really sure
about things,
yet my nails are growing
so confidently<

maybe it's better
not to know the depth
of her wounds--
tranquilly I asked
"how many sugar lumps"

how small
I really am
here between
a potato field
and the wide sky

like clouds
vanishing from a puddle
that morning
my father
silently disappeared

Friday, December 12, 2008

Poet and Tanka
by Mariko Kitakubo
translated by Amelia Fielden

My father disappeared from our family life when I was a mere eight years old and still seeing the world through a young green mist. It was around when that I came to be invited to an adults only New Year party where ten or so of my relatives gathered together. What I really enjoyed there, were the traditional games and pastimes which followed our New Year feast. It was all rather different from the way I played card games and 'twisters' with girls of my own age. The most fun was the 'five seven five' word game.

I should explain this game: Each participant is given a set of five sheets of notepaper. The sheets are numbered one to five. On sheet one, the player writes whatever she likes in five syllables, on sheet two, something in seven syllables and so on in the order of 5 7 5 7 7 syllables. The leader then collects all these sets, shuffles the sheets, and reads them out five at a time, as if they were tanka. Compiled thus haphazardly, the resulting 'poems' can vary from the absurd to the brilliant. This randomness is what makes the game such fun. Everyone laughs and is companionable.

Even now, many years later, that living room with tree shadows flickering on paper screens, that room where I first played the five seven five word game, recurs like dream in my mind. It was an unhurried era, which seemed to showcase a Japan of abundant leisure hours. Perhaps that is how and why the rhythm of tanka became a delight and a source of healing for me.

I first began writing tanka about my son about sixteen years ago in 1992. It was when Tawara Machi’s Salad Anniversary tanka collection appeared, creating a sensation both on the tanka stage and in society at large. For me personally, the ‘Japanese 5/7 rhythm,’ which had been slumbering in my heart, was aroused by her work. At the time my son was already seven years old, but my mind would back to his birth, and I became absorbed in writing my memories of those early years. And as I watched my son growing day by day, it was somehow natural for me to become interested in, and in turn greatly impressed by, the excellent tanka written by youthful poets like Terayama Shuji. Simulated by such wonderful work, I wrote and published successively three collections of my tanka: I Want to Tell You in the Words of Waves (1999), When the Music Stops (2002) and Will (2005).

Then, in the fulfillment of my long-held desire, Amelia Fielden translated a large selection of the tanka from the tanka from my third collection, Will, and this was published in 2006 as the book On This Same Star.

My web site (http;://, which was developed around the same time as On This Same Star appeared, apparently caught the eye of the then editor of Ribbons, an’ya, who kindly invited me to become a member of TSA and also submit tanka in English to its journal. Which I was only too delighted to do.

It has been my unimaginable good fortune to have the door to the mansion of English tanka opened for me in this way by Amelia and an’ya.

In my recent anthology, Cicada Forest, the first chapter is entirely new, in which I try to write about now and future, both in concrete and metaphysical terms:>

we won’t know
if it’s benign
till we operate -
I’m nodding as if
this isn’t about me

it’s myself
a hundred years later
I’m scooping up,
both hands full
of warm sand

In chapter two, from I Want to Tell You in the Words of Waves, I watch a son’s growth through the eyes of mother:

joined together
by his umbilical cord
I hold my son, then
all the stars of heaven
fall down upon me

that uniform
too small in two months…
I’m happy,
I’m sad,
it lies in a drawer

Chapter three is form When the Music Stops, and contains poems with which I write about the anxiety of my own and all animate beings in the present day:

at night
when I try to hear the wind,
the sound of nails
being hammered into my coffin
rings in my ears

I feel the plight
of endangered creatures
on this planet,
like they’re looking at me
with my child’s eyes

After I lost my mother I somehow felt even more strongly the bonds between us, and I tried to express that on in On This Same Star, some of which appears in the final chapter of Cicada Forest:

tonight as I
hull kidney beans
the stone
engraved with her name
is growing cold

day by day
my cracked recollections
whirl up with the wind
on a winter’s day
of mother and child at play

My earnest wish now is too see tanka, Japan’s ancient and traditional fixed from poetry, become familiar and appreciated world-wide. I feel my responsibility as a Japanese tankaist is to continue writing and propagating our lyric verse of the best of my ability.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Modern English Tanka, Autumn 2008, BOOK REVIEW

Cicada Forest: An Anthology of Tanka
by Mariko Kitakubo
translated by Amelia Fielden
Review by Denis M. Garrison

Cicada Forest: An Anthology of Tanka by Mariko Kitakubo, translated by Amelia Fielden. Tokyo, Japan: Kadokawa Shoten, 2008. ISBN 978-4-04-652019-7 C0092. Trade paperback, 5¼" by 8", perfect bound, 192 pages. $15.00 USD. ¥1800E. Cover design by Yoko Hasegawa; cover calligraphy by Hiroshi Hurugoori.

Cicada Forestis a collection of Mariko Kitakubo’s tanka in Japanese accompanied by fine English translations by the renowned Amelia Fielden. In addition to the bilingual text, the book includes a preface by Michael McClintock that supplies an educated vantage point from which to regard the verses themselves and the poet in the context of her art at this moment in time. A charming “Greeting from the Poet” follows the preface.

Cicada Forestis an anthology of Kitakubo’s recent work plus selections from her previous collections, I Want to Tell You in the Words of Waves , When the Music Stops , and On This Same Star (which also is bilingual). The presentation throughout is usually four (sometimes, three) poems to the page, English on the left and Japanese on the right. It is a judicious design, allowing the tanka to be very readable. Likewise judicious is the selection of tanka and their arrangement which presents them to advantage. There is a natural flow to the entire collection that does not happen by chance.

I have read Cicada Forestover and over. It engages me as few such collections can. Here we have the poet’s fully realized voice, even in translation, coming through with a distinctive timbre and tone that becomes recognizable. That is remarkable insofar as her diction is quite natural, rather than stylized. There is a lovely, appealingly musical quality to these tanka that enhances the potent content rather than smoothing it over.

in the foal’s eyes
such gentleness—
some part of me
is being loosened
(pg. 110)

Kitakubo pulls together the personal and the universal with graceful ease, as in:
as the baby
descends the slope to sleep
he seems
to be shutting down
the day for me
(pg. 88)

Quoting a few, or even a few dozen, of the wonderful tanka from this collection cannot do it justice. This is one of those collections, like several classics that we all have come to love, that reveals the poet’s life and inner being. After reading Cicada Forest , we are beguiled into believing that we know Kitakubo like a close friend, a cherished friend, even though here, as with personal relationships, we really catch only a glimpse.

one’s life
can no more be entrusted
to another,
than can the timing
of a perfect soft-boiled egg
(pg. 64)

I haven’t wept
as most women would.
I’ve endured
in my house
by the roaring sea.
(pg. 30)

Kitakubo is not sanguine about her legacy:
washed up
there on the beach
only an oar—
my name will never
ever be remembered
(pg. 60)

Oh, I think that it will. I am sure that it will.
This is an outstandingly beautiful and engaging collection of tanka which every tanka lover will want to own so that they can read it over and again. Mariko Kitakubo’s Cicada Forestis a collection for the ages. We also must be grateful to Amelia Fielden for making this work available to us in English.

—Denis M. Garrison, editor


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Tanka Society of America, Ribbons Summer 2008

Cicada Forest by Mariko Kitakubo, Amelia Fielden, Kadokawa Gakugei Shuppan Ltd.,Tokyo,2008.ISBN978-4-04-652019-7C0092.51/4by8,paperback,perfect bound, 189pages.

Reviewed by Dave Bacharach

For some time now,I had been thinking that I would
like to put together a bi-lingual anthology of my work.
But I held back,feeling that it was not yet appropriate
for an immature poet like myself to do so.
With these words Mariko Kitakubo opens her preface to this recent anthology of her work, consisting of new tanka and selections from I Want to Tell You in the Words of Waves(1999),When the Music Stops(2002),and On This Same Star(2006). Neither of the first two books have been published in English, which means that besides the 24 tanka selected from On The Same Star, the other 312 poems are appearing in English for the first time here. Kitakubo’s modest description of herself is belied by the poetry found in her anthology. Her range of expression, varietyof subject matter, broad structural devices, and, as Michael McClintock phrases it in his introduction, her “transcendent, personal vision of human experience,” all indicate her mature mastery of the form, She tends to write about people close to her: her son, her mother, her father, her lover; but so keen is her self-understanding, and so effectively is she able to convey her thoughts and feeling through her poems, that the reader’s level of recognition passes beyond the particular subject of any one poem and enters areas universal to the human condition. In the generous opening section, consisting of 92 previously unpublished poems, she writes of death and illness, love and the loss of love, and her father. Rain and water imagery are always important to Kitakubo, and they appear in many of the poems, as well as symbols and descriptions of decay and dissolution; sometimes both water and decay occur in the same poems, often with added poignancy created by personification:

were they yearning
for some distant water,
the crystals
when my necklace broke

a single grape
with an innocent gaze
begs my help
before it is crushed
into chardonnay

It is instructive how, in the second poem, a sense of deep pathos is created around the fate of a mere grape. A thoughtful rereading of the poem reveals that it achives its affect by the use of language in lines two, three, and four that is associated in the reader’s mind with the violent death of a child.
Kitakubo’s father, who left her and her mother when the poet was very young, figures in some of tanka of the latter part of this section. The water theme continues, and she adroitly uses it as a defining simile in a poem about her father:

like clouds
vanishing from a puddle
that morning
my father
silently disappeared

In the selections from I Want to Tell You in the Words of Waves, the author’s son and father appear prominently, and though it is natural that the two should be linked in her imagination, the recognition of that link comes as a shock to the author. She uses a simple but highly effective metaphor to describe that shock:

when he bends down
I can see in the boy
my dead father ―
the pendulum of my chest
slowly comes to a stop

Themes of birth and renewal occur throughout the section. As the title suggests, water again appears often as a recurring symbol, especially in the latter part of the section, with several poems set at the beach and referencing the sea. In a series of compelling tanka, Kitakubo emphasizes the deep, almost mystical connection between water, the birth process, and the essence of being a female. It is suggested that, ultimately ,water is the last refuge for a woman:

mind and body
the sea accepts women
with hearts
which now
have nowhere to go
sick at heart
as I face the tide
I wonder
what do I hope for,
what is my future
Many of the poems in When the Music Stops, the next to last section, express the sadness and nostalgia brought about by meditation upon temporality and death. Kitakubo’s images are always clear, hard, and striking, leaving little ambiguity as to meaning:

at night
when I try to hear the wind,
the sound of nails
being hammered into my coffin
rings in my ears

Some of these poems contain surprising images of violence, as in one startling instance where, without warning, the author makes an observation one might expect to find in a tanka written by Dostoevsky:

such brightness
wraps my morning window ―
the secret desire
to murder, and love,
are extremely similar

The last section, selected from On This Same Star, focuses on the author’s mother, whose death was the dominant theme of the book. This section is relatively brief, consisting of 24 poems, but they provide some of the bittersweet flavor of On This Same Star, and will motivate many readers to seek it out.
The above examples give some indication of Kitakubo’s variety of theme, image, and structure. A unifying element, however, runs through it ― an overrinding sense of the human condition, its joys, sadness, anger, bitterness, fear, and hope. Much of the book’s effects can be credited to Amelia Fielden’s thoughtful and knowing translation, in which the author gave her a than usual insight into the meaning and style of the poetry in its original language. This is all to the reader’s benefit: we can be grateful to the poet/translator team that has produced this volume. Perhaps in the future, if we are luchky, the same team will consider making the rest of Kitakubo’s work available to the English reading world.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Information on my reading event on Sept. 20th together with my latest bilingual anthology “Cicada Forest” was introduced in Pacific Asia Museum Newsletter.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Although TANKA has not gained as much popularity as HAIKU overseas yet,more and more TANKA poems are translated, and the number of the poets who compose English TANKA is definitely increasing.

Mariko Kitakubo's new collection, "Cicada Forest", has been published recently.

Translation into English was done by Ms. Amelia Fielden, a superb translator of Japanese literature, awarded Donald Keen Prize.

Mr. Michael McClintock, president of the Tanka Society of America,praise Mariko's work very highly in the preface he wrote to "Cicada Forest."

September this year, Mariko performs reading in the U.S.A., and in 2009, in some other countries including Canada.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Information on my reading event on April 19th was introduced in Pacific Asia Museum Newsletter.


Saturday, April 19, 2008