Naked Memos

followed by a Q&A with the author

Gozo Yoshimasu

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Q&A with Gozo Yoshimasu 

LYL: How did you come to write in this style?

GY : When I began writing poetry in the 1960s, I incurred the displeasure of other poets for the frequent use of unconventional notation such as exclamation points or dots in my work. Though I got used to the fact that my style does not sit well on traditionalists, it has taken 50 years for me to become conscious of what I've been doing exactly. What I try to do is crack open the conventional composition of the language to reveal the innate imperfections underneath the exterior of elegance. In setting out to create flawed pieces, I try to establish an alternative ideal of poetry, by which such pieces find acceptance. I try to enter into this parallel world via my work.

I used to call my writing "naked writing". Or "magic note" or "Tsukuda newspaper". This style naturally evolved from my habit of using tiny side notes and rubi, which, for me anyway, have an uncertain noise about them. Over time, they took over the page and my writing settled itself into this form, as a corollary of that. But there is another reason for my writing being like this too. Without realizing it, I guess it was a way of also protesting against the constraints of publication: maximum wordcount, deadlines etc. So I started handing out limited edition copies of my handwritten drafts at poetry readings and gozoCine video screenings as a sort of omiyage—a souvenir of the occasion. This has become one of the ways I "publish" my writing.

LYL: Why do you use various colours in your writings?

GY : It's a sho that I've simply developed for myself, the methodology of which was the subject of my recent discussion with the Japanese calligrapher Kyuyo Ishikawa. It's also a hommage to artists such as P. Klee, Cezanne, Gogh, and W. Blake. John Cage is the other artist I give a tip of the hat to through this writing.

LYL: What do the different colours mean?

GY : They are there to provide a frisson to the textual arrangement; they also function as subtle stirrers of the subconscious and memory. Importantly and meaningfully, the manner in which I change the pens is impressionistic. In choosing a pen, I sometimes pick the very yellow or green that Van Gogh himself chose, in order to try to understand the color he used. I predict that I will radicalize the canvas, as Klee has probably done.

LYL: What do you hope to do with this kind of writing?

GY : I don't see this as only écriture. The Uchu no Shitakaze, or cosmic wind: that's what I am attempting to convey through my writing.

Thank you for your questions. I hope that your journal will become a treasure of Singapore.

translated from the Japanese by Sayuri Okamoto

Timestamp of Q&A: 28-29.Jan.2011 AM8:10.

Naked Memo #1 first appeared in Yoshimasu's photography book, Mesiita Ogon no Niwa, Iwanami Shoten, 2010. It is used here by permission of both the author and the publisher.

Information about the images in Japanese:
裸のメモ #1:エミリー・ディキンソン学会講演原稿 2010年6月19日発行(於早稲田大学)
*吉増剛造『盲いた黄金の庭』岩波書店/2010 所収。出版社と吉増氏の承諾を得て転載。
裸のメモ #2:『静かなアメリカ』出版記念講演原稿 2009年12月16日発行(於早稲田大学)
裸のメモ #3 gozoCiné上映会でのハンドアウト 2011年1月28日発行(於恵比寿amu)