Scott Watson / Quake Notes
64 pages. Paperback. $10.00
On March 11, 2011 at 9.0 magnitude earthquake followed by a giant tsunami devastated parts of Japan’s Tohoku and Kanto regions. Quake Notes is a journal of poet Scott Watson’s experience in Sendai. Originally appearing as emails to friends/relatives around the world, these notes helped to sooth and focus Watson while surviving with no electricity and water, scarce food and supplies, and frequent after shocks. He writes: “We sleep, but it is a very light sleep and we are startled throughout by more rumbling and shaking. We have socks on too and are ready to run out of our house should the shaking get too violent. How does one tell? How does one know when to ride it out or when to get out?” And then there is the looming situation in Fukushima, along with Watson’s wife’s radiation treatments. “I’m planning our escape. The roads North are clear. Winter snows are melting. Morie’s radiation sessions: ten days more. Will Fukushima’s nukes hold off until then, or will the danger zone expand?” Not just a survival diary, Quake Notes is a cultural critique and a poetic meditation that culminates into a political song against the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
From the forword by John Martone:
“Watson’s Quake Notes would translate well into Japanese. The diary, from Sei Shonagon’s Pillow Book, through Basho and Issa to Kenzaburo Oe’s Hiroshima Notes, has been a prized Japanese art form, and readers familiar with those writers will see how clearly Watson’s work stands in their light. Watson is never explicit about this heritage; there is nothing self-consciously literary about this little book, but like its antecedents, Quake Notes is all poetry, the language of survival, life.”
Scott Watson was born in 1954 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He has been a resident of Japan for over 30 years. He has published over ten collections of poetry; his translations from Japanese include Basho’s Road’s Edge, poems by Yorifumi Yaguchi, Yamao Sansei, and Santoka. For ten years he has been editor of Bongos of the Lord poetry magazine. He also directs Bookgirl Press and is a professor at Tohoku Gakuin University.