Martha Rhodes


Poems By Hiromi Ito

Marjoram, Dill, Rosemary

Father's Uterus, Or The Map

The Maltreatment of Meaning



Fierce, witty, and vibrant—and dubbed by Anne Waldman as “a true sister of the beats”—Radical feminist poet Hiromi Ito is a key figure in Japanese poetry, noted for her innovative experiments with language. Waldman goes on to praise Ito for celebrating “the exigencies and delights of the paradoxically restless/rooted female body.” As her translator, Jeffrey Angles, observes, she “taps into the cultural unconscious of Japan, or perhaps even womanhood as a whole.”

Often described as a “shamaness of poetry,” Ito debuted in 1978 with the collection The Plants and the Sky (Kusaki no sora). The leading voice in Japanese women’s poetry throughout the 80’s, she also published several essay collections on child-rearing including Yoi oppai, warui oppai (Good Breasts, Bad Breasts) and the series Onaka hoppe oshiri (Tummy, Cheeks, Bottom). In the mid-90’s, she took a break from poetry and began writing fiction, receiving critical acclaim for such works as Ra ninya (La nina, 1999). Returning to poetry with Kawara arekusa (Wild Grass on a Riverbank, 2005) and Toge-nuki: Shin Sugamo Jizô engi (The Thorn-Puller: New Tales of the Sugamo Jizô, 2007), Ito established a unique narrative space by interweaving folklore and contemporary poetry.  Focusing on the themes of the body and voice, and delving into her own life, she transcends the genres of poetry, fiction, essays and translation to express the universal.

Upon the publication of her first book in English, Killing Kanoko: Selected Poems of Hiromi It? (Action Books, 2009), Jerome Rothenberg noted her “relentlessly exuberant mind, situated somewhere between bliss and nightmare.”

Recipient of several prestigious Japanese literary prizes, including the Takami Jun Prize, the Hagiwara Sakutaro Prize, and the Izumi Shikibu Prize, Ito has also published translations, notably Karen Hesse’s Newbury Award-winning novel Out of the Dust (Biri jô no daichi) and Doctor Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat.








    Poetry Center Reading:
    Fall 2010