Wago Ryoichi | Translated by Judy Halebsky & Ayako Takahashi | Vagabond Press | 2023
In the days following the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011, poet Wago Ryoichi started a twitter feed. Living just 80 km away from the failed nuclear reactor, he sheltered in his apartment and bared witness to the unfolding devastation. This collection begins with excerpts from those original tweets and follows ten years of Wago’s writing. The poems consider not just the human toll of the disaster but place the devastation of the land, the animals, and ways of life of Fukushima Prefecture on equal footing. There are poems from the perspective of cows left behind in the evacuation zones, from the soil as it is dug up and buried deeper into the earth to lower radiation levels, from residents who stayed behind and residents who evacuated and long to return home. The book closes with a series of poems written ten years after 3.11 that include reflecting on Wago’s original tweets from the first days of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown. While the subject matter is grave, the poems are not without humor and light. Wago writes from a place of compassion for the world and a hunger for beauty.