Sawako Nakayasu is an artist working with language, performance, and translation—separately and in various combinations. She has lived mostly in the US and Japan, briefly in France and China, and translates from Japanese. Her books include Some Girls Walk Into The Country They Are From (Wave, 2020), Pink Waves (Omnidawn), The Ants (Les Figues Press), and the translation of The Collected Poems of Chika Sagawa (Canarium Books), as well as Mouth: Eats Color—Sagawa Chika Translations, Anti-translations, & Originals (reprint forthcoming, Wave Books), a multilingual work of both original and translated poetry. She is co-editor, with Eric Selland, of an anthology of 20th Century Japanese Poetry (forthcoming, New Directions). She teaches at Brown University.
(Photo by Mitsuo Okamoto)
Nakayasu's hypnotic thrust is at times reminiscent of the musical minimalism of composers like Phillip Glass or Steve Reich. Yet she avoids total abstraction just as she avoids hermeticism.
—Laura Wright, American Book Review
Nakayasu’s field is a stretch of land in which to store or build things. In which to set the stage or contemplate emptiness. The field is an experiment. There is “a cast of many.” The field might contain a glass jar of ants or “an emergency message.” When you lay down in the field at night you are felt by the earth, by the wind, by the smooth sky. You are held.
—Caryl Pagel, Kenyon Review
Sawako Nakayasu—writer, antologist, Baudelaire’s sister—turns daily life inside out and upside down then puts it into perfect little boxes. Here we follow the lines of black legged, syntactical units—the words—as they cross and they tickle the heart of the matter with us.
Nakayasu writes intentionally on the fence of genres and further blurs the lines among literary forms, something that—regardless of our tendency to categorize and in spite of any genre purists left in our blurry, blurry world—enchants us as readers and excites us craft-wise as writers.
—Michelle Dove, –Small Press Book Review
Sawako Nakayasu’s work epitomizes unpredictability in language and interactions with other beings. She slips between fact and imagination, and from one art medium (and language) to another, producing work in various iterations, with improvisations.
—Denise Newman, –Denise Newman, World Literature Today
- Two Poems (Black Sun Lit)
- Ten Girls Stepping Into And Out Of The Light (Colorado Review)
- Two Poems (Believer Mag)
- Colorado Review, with Jordan Osborne
- The Aviary, with Steven Karl and Hitomi Yoshio
- Asymptote Journal, with Lindsey Webb
- Ask/Tell Blog, with Thomas Fink
- Sawako Nakayasu, with Thomas Fink
- 10 poems recited and recorded on Lyrik Line
- Finnish composer Maija Hynninen set a poem from Texture Notes (Letter Machine Editions) to music. The sheet music can be found here.
- Sawako Nakayasu's page on PennSound