Akiko Yosano: Sweet is the Taste of Tears


During the summer of 2014 I worked with publisher Michael Curran (Tangerine Press) on a new selection of tanka poems by one of the most famous and controversial poets in Japanese literature, Akiko Yosano.

Aged nineteen, Akiko Yosano (1878-1942) fled to Tokyo from her sleepy hometown of Sakai to join her lover Tekkan, poet and editor of the journal Myojo. Akiko wrote him adoring letters and poems, even threatening suicide if he didn’t divorce his wife. This formed the basis of Akiko’s debut collection Midaregami (Tangled Hair) which became a literary landmark and is one of the central works in Japanese Romanticism.

Sweet is the Taste of Tears is a new selection from Midaregami created and handsewn by Michael at his Sick Tangerine workshop. Akiko is one of my favourite female writers of all time and exerts a large influence on my writing. It was so difficult to make a decision on what not to include. I could have written a novel on Akiko’s life, but could only manage an afterword for this edition. I hope it provides a good introduction to her work.

The chapbook is work of art. 6″/150mm wide x 300mm/12″ tall. Recycled 350gsm Cairn Almond stiff card covers; front cover design hot foil stamped in black ink. 100gsm Heritage Book White text paper; 60gsm Katazome-Shi endpapers, with a base colour of Fuchsia with symmetrical patternation in various colours: all hand printed in Japan (one side only). 16 pages and only 23 in existence.

It’s also worth mentioning that it’s part of the Sick Fly Chapbook Series 2014. Other titles include William Wantling’s Heroin Haikus, Mick Guffan’s Twenty Six Letters Scattered Sorted Loved & Unleashed, Stanley Cooperman’s Cappelbaum’s Lament, and Weldon Kees’ 1926 & other poems.

Visit Tangerine Press for further details.