Hiromi Ito in English

Mikiro Sasaki once told me that as a poet I was “Hiromi Ito in English.”
He meant it as a compliment, the way he always has, so much like a poet, to-the-point short-on-words observations.
He probably doesn’t remember having said this any more than he remembers me or my poems.
Some years back, when Ito was far less famous than she is today, though she was already a star, I translated some of her poems in English while I was still living in San Francisco.
She loved my translations and she asked for more although I ran out of time and never followed through with what could have been a very interesting collaboration.
My poem is in one poetry anthology Ito is in:
“other side river,” California: Stone Bridge Press, 1995.
I also had an opportunity to chat with Ito at a cofee shop when I came to live in Japan.
She told me that her menstrual periods would begin right before or during her poetry readings even though she wasn’t due for that cycle.
Then she said, “Yuri-san you’re the first person I’ve told this to who didn’t act surprised.”
Well, I just thought it made perfect sense.
Poetry is so erotic, hormones, lightning nerve shots, thought/speech going haywire, your uterus would want to bleed out of cycle, naturally.
She also told me she was afraid of Shuntaro Tanikawa’s eyes _ they have that flicker from inside of someone who is trying to take, she said, visibly shivering.
Like all artists, Tanikawa is the kind of person who never stops being curious, and perhaps that energetic ego-centric desire was what repulsed Ito.
Ito also talked about how she couldn’t eat properly when she loved a man.
Food/sex/womanhood/reproduction/desire/ are all wrapped in one.
It is true, when you stop to think about it, eating, having sex, living day by day make utterly no sense and are rather grotesque and terrible.
When you stop too long to think about it, like after you come off an illness, it takes such an extra conscious effort to carry out the act of eating _ lift the fork, stab the mush, cut, carry to mouth, open mouth, close, open/close, open/close, swallow.
And imagining what’s happening to the food once it hits your blood-curdling feces-filled organs is nothing but a childhood nightmare.