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Oceans Beyond Monotonous Space by Kitasono Katue


Oceans Beyond Monotonous Space, selected poems of Kitasono Katue, translated by John Solt, introduction by Karl Young, co-edited by Karl Young and John Solt.

The reputation of poet-photographer Kitasono Katue (1902-1978) has steadily increased over the years, both in Japan and the West. This new book of translations is almost triple the size of Glass Beret, (Milwaukee, WI: Morgan Press, 1995) Solt’s volume of Kitasono translations that was awarded the 1996 Japan-US Friendship Commission Prize for the translation of Modern Japanese Literature.

Kenneth Rexroth “kick started” Solt's translation project by telling him that Kitasono was the most important of Japan's avant gardists. Ezra Pound saw him as one of the world's greatest poets. Robert Creeley, Kenneth Patchen, and Charles Olson saw him as a full peer. We feel sure that in the global milieu of the 21st Century, where language and culture barriers recede, that Kitasono will take his place not only with these American counterparts, but with Neruda, Vallejo, Mayakovsky, Breton, Schwitters and other major figures around the world. In addition to the intrinsic pleasures of Kitasono's poems, he had the uncanny ability to implement the forms and develop the concerns of Western movements decades before they began in the Atlantic cultures. This applies to his Concrete Poetry begun in the 1920s, to what amounts to Language Poetry begun in the 1940s. At the turn of the Millennium, it's easy enough to see his use of poetry based in photography as antecedent to new electronic technologies as well as currently emergent art forms.

Karl Young is a leading American word and visual poet who has been active for decades. In Oceans Beyond Monotonous Space he offers an insightful and in-depth introduction that re-evaluates Kitasono’s importance within the international avant-garde of the twentieth century. Karl also designed the book. His acclaimed literary website can be accessed at

John Solt’s critical biography, Shredding the Tapestry of Meaning: The Poetry and Poetics of Kitasono Katue (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 1999) has been translated into Japanese and published by Shichosha (2008).

For the full introduction and samples of translations, see Kitasono's home page at and for first responses from general readers (not specialists of Japanese literature), check out the feature in Big Bridge magazine:

Printed in the U.S.A. (2007).

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