... to celebrate the gifts of friends. I heard just yesterday from two of them, both friends I have known for a very long time, with news of their success.
I heard from my friend Yumiko Tsumura. I knew her first as a poet at the University of Iowa, along with her now deceased--and deeply mourned--husband, also a poet, Sam Grolmes. Yumiko tells me of the publication of a suite of ten poems in the August issue of the online magazine, Eastlit. Here's one of them:
Yumiko's voice is tender, gently elegiac; her imagery is precise, surprising, colorful. You'll find nine other of her poems here. They evoke memories of her Japanese childhood, of her life with Sam, of her daughter, Junko. Also a skilled translator, Yumiko learns a lot--as all good poets do--from those others whose work she admires, and brings something of their voice into her own. I'm happy to see her continuing to publish her work, here in a magazine that celebrates the literary heritage of Asia and Southeast Asia.
I also heard from my friend Masami Teraoka, an artist I have known ever since he showed his work in my wife, Ellie's gallery back in the early 1970s. Masami, now based in Hawaii, shares the wonderful news that he has been honored with a Lee Krasner Award, in recognition of a lifetime of significant artistic achievement. Masami's meticulously crafted paintings give a contemporary edge to the ukiyo-e tradition of Japanese woodcuts, which depict often slightly decadent scenes from the "Floating World" of Edo-period culture. Masami adds a satirical bite to this tradition, in paintings that poke sometimes merciless fun at all kinds of current cultural institutions, from MacDonald's hamburgers to the Catholic church; he is particularly incensed, of late, by the latter's attitudes towards women, the sexual abuses of its priests, its rejection of birth control. See here for some examples. You'll note that his women, particularly, are gloriously liberated in their sexuality, and mocking in their attitude to old conformities.
So it's wonderful to be able to congratulate these two on their continuing success. May they continue to bring pleasure and meaningful reflection into this world.