Contemprary Tanka Poet 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,
Tan-Ku Co-Founder,
Tanka Society of America.

In commemoration of
15 years of tanka reading
The Latest Tanka Sequence
Original Tanka presented at
Spoken World Live

Contemprary Tanka Poet Mariko Kitakubo. Article details.

My short essay is posted in the Asahi Shinbun, a Japanese national paper.

My short essay is posted in the Asahi Shinbun, a Japanese national paper. My short essay is posted in "UTA WO YOMU", the poetry section of the Asahi Shinbun, a Japanese national newspaper.

I would like to extend my sincere gratitude toward the editor who gave me such a wonderful opportunity.


Below is the English translation.



12 years have passed since I started reading performance overseas in order to introduce the beauty of TANKA to the people outside Japan. To date, I have visited 29 cities in the U.S., Europe, Australia, India and Africa, and performed TANKA reading both in Japanese and in English at the places such as universities, book stores, and International events. While my reading performance, I add background sound with some percussion instruments that I bring with me. For instance, a poem written by Ohtomo no Yakamochi in Man’yo Luster ---

as I turn my gaze upward
and see the crescent moon,
I recall
the trailing eyebrows
of the woman I saw but once

“Sounds very beautiful as if it were a piece of music.” I often receive this comment from the audience who hear Japanese TANKA for the first time in his/her life.

When I perform bilingual TANKA reading, I place much importance in the comfort of sound and rhythm. It is also important to construct the whole performance with universal theme. Regardless their nationality, culture, religion, gender or age, the audience must feel empathy with the theme. In the reading, I also include the pieces that I wrote.

pure silence...
deep sleep of Mt.Fuji,
they appear,
the forest god and
the god of water

I try to deliver the emotion of the poem from soul to soul directly. “I do not understand Japanese language, but I was moved so much.” When I receive comments like this, I think to myself my reading performance of the day was successful. No matter how hard I try, my effort alone cannot obtain such reactions from the audience. What makes it happen is the emotional interaction between the listeners and myself. I believe it strongly, and feel gratitude from the bottom of my heart. In fact, I was once told, “I felt the place was filled with an enormous undulation.”

I would like to continue to deliver the wonderfulness of TANKA to the world through my reading performance activity.

intently flowing
the river empties
into the sea,
its mouth like a border
between life and death