'Nakamura Sachiko (b.1963) grew up in Ōtunato-city in the Iwate prefecture in Tohoku, Japan, which became one of the most severely damaged areas by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Born into a landlord family who had lived there for hundreds of years, she has never left her home town. This poem is based on her experiences after the tsunami. The poetic style she has chosen, including the mixture of the prose and linages, past and present, monologues, conversations, dialogues, and signs around the town, represents the confusion of the people’s state of mind as well as the chaotic situation the towns and cities of Tohoku had to face. The black dot in the poem is used as a coded reference to the government, implying sarcasm at the government’s treatment of the disaster. This poem won a prize in Iwate prefecture’s Disaster Poetry Competition and was published in Iwate Disaster Poetry Anthology (Shishū, Iwate shinsai shiika 2017).
'Rina Kikuchi, a native speaker, completed a literal translation of the poem, liaising in Japanese with Nakamura to clarify some of the ideas embedded in the work. Cassandra Atherton, who is a scholar in the field of Japanese disaster poetry and a prose poet, worked with Rina on her translation to create a poem in English that was true to the original, but which also engaged a readership outside Japan. Once the English version was drafted, Rina, who describes herself as a messenger between poets, took this to Nakamura and completed some redrafting based on her feedback. The translation process was rewarding because it ultimately brings important Japanese poetry a wider readership.'