Are You an Echo? The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko
by David Jacobson
Chin Music Press, 2016
Are You an Echo? is a treasure. The beautifully illustrated cover and the textured and heavy-stocked pages, make a strong presentation of Japan’s beloved children’s poet. The book includes Misuzu’s brief biography and presents 25 poems. Fifteen poems are presented in English and Japanese on beautifully illustrated two-page spreads.
Misuzu’s poems give voice to cocoons, fish and snow. Written with such innocence, they are the words of a four-year-old. Of course, they are translated from Japanese, but they have a unique flavor different from children’s poetry in America.
Unlike most girls of the early 1900’s who stopped going to school after the sixth grade, Misuzu went to school until she was seventeen. She was raised in her mother’s bookstore and she had a hard time telling the difference between real life and what she read. Everything was alive and had its own feelings. Always a thoughtful child, she was sensitive to everything around her and questioned everything. Unfortunately, extreme hardships entered into Misuzu’s life and she took her life at the age of 25. This fact is included gently in the brief biography.
A delight to the imagination, this is a book to savor, study, and enjoy again and again.