Prominent Japanese author visits campus

contact: Mark Schwerin
| WMU News


KALAMAZOO--One of the foremost authors of contemporary Japan is coming to the area later this month to lecture and read from her work at two events at Western Michigan University.

Hiromi Ito will talk about Buddhism and how it affects modern life at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22, in Room 2028 of Brown Hall, in a presentation titled "Classical Buddhism, Where To? A Contemporary Writer's Perspective." Ito will talk about her recent books on the "Heart Sutra," the Japanese Buddhist teacher Shinran and their influence on contemporary existence. She will be joined by Dr. Steve Covell, chair of the WMU Department of Comparative Religion and Dr. Jeffrey Angles, WMU associate professor of foreign languages.

Later that day, Ito will conduct a conversation and bilingual poetry reading at 6:30 p.m., also in Room 2028 of Brown Hall. Ito will reflect on her life, work and experiences and will be joined by Angles, who translated her work into English. Copies of her 2009 book, "Killing Kanoko," will be available for purchase.

Ito has more than a dozen collections of poetry, several works of prose and numerous books of essays to her credit and has won several major literary prizes. She gained recognition as a feminist writer in the 1980s, known for a series of dramatic collections of poetry that explore sexuality, pregnancy, motherhood and feminine erotic desire in direct language.

Since moving to California in 1997, dividing her time between Encinitas, Calif., and Kumamoto in southern Japan, Ito has written poetry and novels about her experiences as a Japanese transplant and the implications of linguistic isolation for self-expression and identity. She also has written extensively on Buddhism and its influences on her thought.

The Japan Foundation provided a grant to help bring Ito to WMU. Her visit also is sponsored by the WMU Soga Japan Center and the departments of Foreign Languages and Comparative Religion.

For more information, contact Dr. Jeffrey Angles, associate professor of foreign languages, at (269) 387-3044 or