by Helena Witzke
On Feb. 22, WMU will host the return of Hiromi Itō, one of Japan’s most prominent writers. Itō will give a talk titled “Classical Buddhism, Where To? A Contemporary Writer’s Perspective,” followed by a bilingual reading of her poetry.
This visit marks her second reading at WMU; in 2008, Dr. Jeffrey Angles, associate professor of Japanese and director of the Soga Japan Center, invited Itō to visit WMU to give a talk on her experiences living in Japan and California.
In the 1970s, Itō gained a reputation as a major voice of a new, liberated generation of young female poets. After moving to Encinitas, Calif. with her partner, British artist Harold Cohen, she began experimenting with different forms of literature, including novellas. “Prose seemed better suited to my life as an immigrant,” she said.
Itō will speak about her recent books on the Heart Sutra, the Japanese Buddhist teacher, Shinran, and their influences. Along with Angles, Dr. Stephen Covell, chair of WMU’s Department of Comparative Religion, will join Itō for the discussion on Classical Buddhism.
During the reading, Itō will reflect on her life, work, and experiences. Angles, translator of Itō’s book, “Killing Kanoko,” (Action Books, 2009) will participate in the conversation that follows the reading. A book signing follows; books will be available for purchase.
Noting that Itō will be reading some of her newest work, Angles says, “I am currently working on translations of some of this recent work, so it will be exciting to debut this work right here in Kalamazoo!”
Sponsored by the Japan Foundation, WMU’s Soga Japan Center, and the Departments of Foreign Languages and Comparative Religion, the talk will take place in 2028 Brown Hall at 2 p.m., followed by the reading of her poetry at 6 p.m.