Hiromi Ito, "Tree Spirits Grass Spirits" (Nightboat Books, 2023)


A collected series of intertwined poetic essays written by acclaimed Japanese poet Hiromi Ito--part nature writing, part travelogue, part existential philosophy. Written between April 2012 and November 2013, Tree Spirits Grass Spirits (Nightboat Books, 2023) adopts a non-linear narrative flow that mimics the growth of plants, and can be read as a companion piece to Ito's beloved poem "Wild Grass on the Riverbank". Rather than the vertiginously violent poetics of the latter, Tree Spirits Grass Spirits serves as what we might call a phyto-autobiography: a recounting of one's life through the logic of flora. Ito's graciously potent and philosophical prose examines immigration, language, gender, care work, and death, all through her close (indeed, at times obsessive) attention to plant life.

For a better understanding of this collection and the author, the following books are recommended by translator Dr. Jon Pitt:

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Jingyi Li

Dr. Jingyi Li is a cultural historian of nineteenth-century Japan. She researches about early modern Japan, literati, and commercial publishing.

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