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Announcing the winners of our 2020 Poems in Translation Contest in partnership with the Academy of American Poets. Read more.

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Mutsuo Takahashi

Mutsuo Takahashi (高橋睦郎) (1937– ) is one of Japan’s most prominent living poets, having won almost every major poetry prize in the nation. Since first attracting the attention of the literary world with his bold poetic evocations of homoerotic desire in the 1960s, Takahashi has published several dozens of books of poetry and many more volumes of essays and literary criticism. Several collections of poems are available in English translation, including Poems of a Penisist (University of Minnesota Press, 2012) and Two Shores (Dedalus, 2006), as is his memoir about his youth as a gay boy in war-torn Japan, Twelve Views from the Distance (University of Minnesota Press, 2012). Takahashi lives in the seaside city of Zushi, about ninety minutes by train from central Tokyo. These translations come from his magnum opus Only Yesterday (Shichōsha, 2018), in which Takahashi revisits the major themes of his long poetic career in short, pithy poems. Writing in an archaic style that echoes old translations of the classics, Takahashi borrows themes, ideas, and archetypes from ancient Greek literature to speak about the problems of the twenty-first century world.

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