Poetry collection by Dorothy Yamamoto – ‘Landscape with a Hundred Bridges’ from Blinking Eye Publishing

I came across Dorothy Yamamoto earlier this year at the excellent Albion Beatnik bookshop in Oxford, where she and Wendy Klein were giving a joint reading. This joining together provided a pleasingly fresh perspective from both poets on issues of family, loss, affection and the world around them. This perspective is possible because both poets write as outsiders. As is apparent from her surname, Yamamoto is half-Japanese, but grew up in Barnet, north London, and her mother is British. This outsider viewpoint enables her to bring an objective sharpness to her observations about her life and what she sees around her. Nevertheless, Britain is very much her home and her affection for it is manifest too. I like that anything and everything is grist to her poetical mill, from cutting a child’s hair, to the Chicago stockyards, to Dürer’s rhinoceros. Each image that calls to her, she manipulates to serve her purpose – ie greater understanding of herself and what she perceives of the world. She writes in a spare, almost-Japanese style, tempered with, perhaps, a slight warmth and expansion which a purely Japanese poet might not consider. Here is the final stanza from the final poem in the collection; the title poem:

“This was Hokusai’s dream.
When he woke up he could hardly wait
to copy it down on paper –
hatching the struts, the planks, the stone islands
before the mountains sank, the sky closed.”

She finds humour in her subject matter to, as you can see in the quotation above. Sometimes her turn of phrase is so apt the reader catches her breath, thus (about a koi carp) “… the unseen harness/for the water’s muscle.”

I recommend this collection to you.

You can read more about the poet (and a poem) here: http://www.poetrypf.co.uk/dorothyyamamotobiog.html

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