Wednesday, March 7, 2012

ainu yukar published in tomo anthology

The TOMO anthology, about which I posted earlier (click here), has finally been released, and my personal copy was delivered to me today! How I love the smell of new books! This one is chock full of Japan-related stories targeted to teen readers, and a quick look through the table of contents reveals a wide variety of themes and styles, including poetry and comic strips. The first story I read had me sobbing, and it's been a looooong time since I was a teen.

TOMO is relevant to Project Uepeker in that it includes my English translation of "Shirokani pe ran ran pishkan: The Song Sung by the Owl God," the first yukar in Chiri Yukie's yukar anthology. The title of the English version of the story is Where the Silver Droplets Fall, and it was chosen for inclusion in TOMO because it tells the story of how one boy and his family maintain their dignity and morals during times of tribulation.

The full title of the book is TOMO Friendship Through Fiction--An Anthology of Japan Teen Stories. It it the brainchild of Holly Thompson (ed.) and published by Stone Bridge Press "in memory of all those lost in the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of March 11, 2011, and dedicated to all the young people of Tohoku." Proceeds from sales will go to benefit recovery efforts. For details, go to the TOMO blog. Also see the Japan Times review of the book.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

ainu yukar published in the southpaw journal

Southpaw, a literary journal out of Melbourne, Australia, and identifying itself as "a journal of writing from the global south," made its long-awaited debut a few months ago. The theme of Issue #1 is Displacement.

Displacement comes in many forms, but the one that immediately comes to mind in the context of Project Uepeker, is the tragic situation of the Ainu people being marginalized in their own native land. So I was very pleased when I was asked to submit one of my Ainu yukar translations for this first significant issue. The yukar chosen for the purpose is the one I've titled The Owl and the Message, an illustrated retelling of "Konkuwa: A Song Sung by the Owl God," one of the yukar included in Chiri Yukie's anthology.

Send an email to to inquire about purchasing copies of Southpaw Issue #1 or for institutional subscriptions.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

the remarkable story of chiri yukie

My yukar translation Where the Silver Droplets Fall has been included in the TOMO anthology, a collection of Japan-related short stories scheduled to be released from Stone Bridge Press in March 2012. Proceeds of the book have been committed to the support of teen victims of the March 2011 disasters in Japan. You can read more about TOMO here.

In connection with the upcoming release of TOMO, the Japan chapter of the Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) asked me to write an article about Chiri Yukie to go into the winter 2012 issue of their newsletter Carp Tales. It was my (figurative) encounter with this remarkable Ainu girl that first ignited my interest in Ainu yukar and moved me to make them more accessible to the English-speaking world.

Where the Silver Droplets Fall
is my English translation of a yukar that Yukie first transcribed from the Ainu language (which had no writing system), and then translated into beautiful, literary Japanese. In times when the Ainu themselves no longer valued their indigenous language and culture, linguistically gifted Yukie made enormous personal sacrifices to preserve a collection of Ainu yukar, all before she died at the tender age of nineteen.

Anyone with an interest in the Ainu owes it to himself/herself to learn about Chiri Yukie. I urge you to download the aforementioned issue of Carp Tales (pdf file) and read the article for yourself.