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A young poet who continues to garner attention
A desire to spin words that blend in with the scenery

Yumi Fuzuki

What image comes to mind when you hear the word “poetry?” Perhaps reading aloud in class. Or perhaps a literary work in which to immerse yourself. At any rate, many people’s image is that it is “stiff.”

With her first poetry anthology, Tekisetsu na sekai no tekisetsu narazaru watashi (Shisosha), Fuzuki became the youngest person ever at 18 to win the Nakahara Chuya Prize, a gateway to success for modern poets.

Stating "I would like to engage poems and words as more familiar presences," Yumi Fuzuki is an up-and-coming young poet who has already been spectacularly prolific, including becoming the youngest person ever to win the Modern Poetry Notebook Award and the Nakahara Chuya Prize while still in high school. In addition to so-called "poet-like" activities such as contributing poems and book reviews to literary magazines and participating in public readings, Fuzuki doesn't stop at print media. She also writes for a weekly FM radio program and collaborates with a tights brand to produce tights with her poems printed on them.

Amongst these, perhaps the poem of Fuzuki's which the most people have set eyes on is the one she wrote last year as song lyrics for the NHK National School Music Contest (N-Con), when she was given the major honor to be the lyricist for the high school student section’s set piece song, Koko ni iru. "High school students from throughout Japan participating the N-Con sung the lyrics I wrote, and there is no comparison to the number of people who have been so kind as to read my anthologies. Still, I've felt that people were able to experience the words more closely through the filter of music."

In the background of Fuzuki's efforts to help more people see the beauty of poetry, memories of having nowhere to go when she first started writing poetry fade in and out. When in elementary school, in the same way her friends enjoyed dance and playing soccer, Fuzuki was passionate about spinning words. Due to people's preconceived notion that literature is difficult, however, Fuzuki received little praise or encouragement for this idiosyncrasy. "Although there are people who grasp poetry from a literary perspective, I began in elementary school by reading poetry written by a high school student and attempting to imitate what I read. That's why, to me, poetry and words are very familiar things. As much as possible, I want my own poems, too, to be words that will blend in with the scenery of the everyday."

In order to probe new possibilities for poetry, Fuzuki is also active at Waseda University. Her membership in the Tanka-kai student club is one example. Although Fuzuki states frankly and with a bitter smile that tanka, a traditional form of Japanese poetry, are more difficult than ordinary poems, she says that she has become better at managing the rhythm and number of syllables in words when revising her poems. Fuzuki has also collaborated with the Sen-i Kenkyu-kai to open an exhibition displaying poems and shirts inspired by her poetry. "Although I've collaborated in the making of pictures and paintings before, it was an extremely novel and fresh experience to make words into three-dimensional objects by turning poems into shirts." Going forward, Fuzuki says she would like to explore ways to experience poetry anew, such as through poetry workshop exhibitions.

Finally, we asked Fuzuki how to enjoy poetry for students who aren't familiar with it. "For one's first time coming into contact with poetry, I'd have to recommend a public reading. I encourage you to just freely enjoy the sounds and images without worrying about the meaning of the words. I hope that my poems serve as a starting point for people to find poems and words which are irreplaceable to themselves. If my poems serve as a “gateway” to that kind of experience, than I’m happy.”

A public reading of Rosoku no hono ga sasayaku kotoba (Keiso Shobo) held in June of last year at Waseda University. Fuzuki appeared alongside well-known poets and writers such as Shuntaro Tanikawa.

Kotoba no shirts-ten, an exhibit conducted by Yumi Fuzuki and the Sen-i Kenkyu-kai.

With fellow members of the Tanka-kai.


Yumi Fuzuki
Fourth Year, School of Education

Originally from Hokkaido, Yumi Fuzuki graduated from Hokkaido Sapporo Asahigaoka Senior High School. After her first poem anthology won the Nakahara Chuya Prize, Fuzuki published her second anthology, Yane yori mo fukabuka to (Shisosha) last year. She chose the pen name of Yumi Fuzuki (文月悠光) because she was born in July ("文月" – the seventh month of the lunar calendar) and she likes the light ("光") of the moon.