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Sunday, July 13, 2003

THE ASIAN BOOKSHELF

Heartfelt poetry from and inspired by Asia


By LEZA LOWITZ
EPITAPH FOR MEMORIES, by Yoko Danno. The Bunny and The Crocodile Press, 2002, 53 pp., $10 (paper).

NINETY-FIVE NIGHTS OF LISTENING, by Malinda Markham. Mariner Books, 2002, 80 pp., $12 (paper).

MAMAIST: Learning a New Language, by Alan Botsford Saitoh. Minato No Hito Press, 2002, 55 pp., $8 (paper).

STRANGE CURRENCIES, by Daniel Sendecki. Ahadada Press, 2003, 68 pp., $9.95 (paper).

Epitaph for memories

After she lost her son in a 1986 mountain-climbing accident in the Karakoram Himalayas, Yoko Danno embarked on her own pilgrimage to appease his spirit and feed her own. The inspiration was to remember her son's life, but these poems, encouraged by poet Gary Snyder and written in English, chart the poet's inner and outer quest to embrace the life flow of the universe, which includes loss and death as well as joy.

In this beautiful set of poems, Danno finds the courage to enter the silence of grief. Mountain spirits, ancestors, friends and family are all invoked in these poems. Loss and connection dance with karma and fate, but in the end, joy is recovered as the Bodhisattva smiles in radiant white light and the poet, too, is reborn. Oh yes, I will climb the cliff of blue ice And come face to face with a fearful god of the wind-blowing mountain and destroy him with my bare hands -- where is my enemy?

For Danno, "Silence finally finds its voice" with the fierce beauty and haunting grace of Amarna in snow.

Distributed by Ikuta Press: 1-5-3, Sumiyoshi-Yamate, Higashinada-ku, Kobe, 658-0063 (Phone/Fax 078-822-1329).


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