A Journal of Poetry and Kindred Prose

Alan Botsford Saitoh

is the author of two books of poetry—mamaist: learning a new language (Minato No Hito, 2002) and A Book of Shadows (Katydid Books, 2003).  A book of essays, Walt Whitman of Cosmic Folklore, is forthcoming in 2009.

Recent poems have appeared in the anthologies Cadence of Hooves in the U.S. and Jungle Crows in Japan.

He lives in Japan with his wife and son where he teaches at Kanto Gakuin University and co-edits Poetry Kanto.

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a mamaist wilderness

Silence in which one pitches one’s tent—be
our timeless frontier! See
the ragged emptiness of words building the poem up
like a campfire around which we
may sit, cross-legged, its gorgeous embers
shooting wildly up into the blackness
          of stars.

Silence in which one now takes a short hike—steady
this din of our ethicless brain
which threatens with every newly turned phrase
to be found lost in the wood
          of your labyrinthine way.

Silence, silence . . . Once inside of you,
to name a thing is joy. To speak
the name of a thing is joy. To hear
spoken the name of a thing is joy.
For you, silence, aren’t you
but the real name for
the ten-thousand things?

What is mamaist poetry? “To be lost, with discipline, in the in-betweenness of language(s),” Saitoh writes; “to align one’s compass by the rose and be lost within its petals, its unfolding universes (for after the flowering comes the fruit); to remain disciplined in one’s lostness, is the aim of ‘mamaist’ poetry—that it may open to new forms of inquiry and perception and exploration of all that is unknown, past present & future.”