Friday, December 23, 2011
My first poems (Before the Sunset was one of them) were published in “Puerto Del Sol#44” in 2009. They were accepted by the former editor, Kathleene West, on Christmas day in 2007. I am thankful that she gave me my first chance in the publishing world.
Along with my poet friends, Charmi, Nancy, Amy, Ryan, Clayton, Alesandra, Jill, and ***drum sounds*** DDL, I am lucky to have this poetry community to help me poet forward.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
I usually Skype her every weekend, but this was a Tuesday. When I texted her to ask for five minutes in Skype, she was busy practicing walking in her apartment with my father. I kept bugging her to get online because I have big news (which she interpreted as me being pregnant or something). In the tiny camera feed, I was proving that my name was actually next to the respected Swedish poet.
My mother seemed to be happy that my name was mentioned with those big names though she cannot read English and doesn’t have any idea what I am doing in the contemporary poetry world. She was excited to see my name with the words “New York” nonetheless.
In the magazine, the names listed are Will Hubbard (a best-selling poet in 2011), Naoko Fujimoto (no book publication), Tomas Tranströmer (Nobel laureate), and Walt Whitman (a legendary poet). In the tiny screen, my mother pointed out their credentials and said, “You have only one line. You need to work on your publications.” Actually, she was seeing a credential of Tranströmer. It says, “Nobel laureate.” And she continued, “There is an arrow toward under…so your next step will be Tomas Tranströmer?”
Then I thought: When I become 80 years-old and am still a poet, if I then receive a Nobel price— for example— would I be really happy? Of course I would be honored, because my art work would be a staple of the 21st century. However, I couldn’t say, “Do you remember the article in New York Magazine?” and laugh about it with my parents. They would already be dead. I may feel vacant with such an expensive prize. There are no parents or current close friends to take to luxurious spas in Japan. I may not be able to cerebrate from the bottom of my heart without them.
Perhaps I may try to spend all the money before I die within five years or so because I would not want ugly inheritance arguments between my children, extend family, and extended-extended family. There are always ways to spend money, like buying a Swarovski crystal toilet recently produced in a Japanese toilet company.
I guess I just like to ramble on about another “IF” story. In the end, I am thrilled that my name is printed in a national magazine, Naoko Fujimoto— on the way to being a poet like the names surrounding mine.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
It took eleven months, maybe more than that to get where I thought I would have started here. In the end of September during my sister’s wedding, I wanted to divorce— my sick father did not want me to go back to America, my grandmother asked me to take a sleeping pill to calm down— because of my death metal-hubby’s drinking issues and the time it took to find a good job. On top of that, in early October, my company asked me to find a new job, and there were no publications yet this year. I can be on and on about my miserable months.
And then one manager asked me to be her assistant (in a way) in the middle of November. I have been working ok –things are so much better there—so I saved my job. I can pay my rent. Before then, my death-metal hubby cut his hair and has been working so hard as a researcher. His drinking issues have dramatically improved. And then my poems were accepted in December. Step by step everything’s been falling into place, improving beyond that even, and now I can be on and on about recent happy days.
I was drowning, but somebody and something pulled me out from the water— just like my friends, family, writers, and hubby dragged a seine— here I am. I was pulled to the surface. The bright, sunny surface. I wear a bikini. I hope I don’t get sunburn.
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
My name was mentioned in the article! Thank you!
Tomas Tranströmer is having a good two weeks: On December 10, the 80-year-old Swedish poet was officially given the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature in Oslo, and on December 19, Farrar, Straus and Giroux will publish a new edition of his verse. To get to this moment, he triumphed o’er what are perhaps the longest economic odds in the arts.
Estimated poetry M.F.A.’s awarded, according to M.F.A.-world blogger Seth Abramson, in …
Approximate number of jobs available to teach M.F.A. programs: 750
Number selected: 75
$460 for a 36-line poem: The New Yorker
$75 a poem: The Paris Review
$25 a page: Plough-shares
$10 a line: Poetry Magazine
THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED DOESN’T PAY FOR GROCERIES
Second job of noted poets.
Credentials: Wrote Cursivism, published by Ugly Duckling Presse.
Second Job: Manages the noise-pop duo Sleigh Bells.
Credentials: Published in Hotel Amerika, Potomac Review, Passages North, and New Madrid.
Second Job:Purchasing associate at a Japanese tool company.
Credentials: Nobel laureate.
Second Job: Psychologist for juvenile delinquents (now retired).
Credentials: Wrote one of the best poems in the history of civilization.
Second Job: Government clerk.
WIDELY KNOWN IN NARROW CIRCLES
Best-selling poetry books of 2011
Horoscopes for the Dead / Billy Collins
Copies sold: 18,406
*Author’s est. earnings: $44, 177
Leavings / Wendell Berry
Copies sold: 2, 928
*Author’s est. earnings: $4,377
Come, Thief / Jane Hirshfield
Copies sold: 2,250
*Author’s est. earnings: $5,625
*Assumes a 10 percent royalty rate.
282,000 Copies of Tim Tebow’s autobiography, Through My Eyes, sold since its May release.
WINNING THE NOBEL LOTTERY
Approximate number of books sold by Tranströmer in America in the ten years before he won the Nobel: 12,300.
Number of copies of Tranströmer books that have been scheduled for printing since he won the prize: at least 50,000.
Monetary reward for winning Nobel Prize: $1,480,000
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
REQUIEM FROM AN OFFICE 7,000 MILES AWAY
after Japan, 3/11/2011
I type numbers and sit in a black
chair for eight hours. Glass cloth
covers my eyes. Cold
sand fills my bones. A graveyard
on the hill is burning.
After the earthquake, a fisherman
runs to the fire. He carries
a clarinet and yells to me,
What else do you want?
My eyelids are sealed like wax stamps.
A tsunami pushes the flaming tombstones and boats.
Under the white moon, the fisherman
plays a clarinet concerto. He vibrates
the reed. In the ocean breeze, he inhales
human dust. I open
my eyes. I want
and then more lights.
FOREIGN / GREY
Because I’m from Fukushima, I say, I’m not / radioactive, and eat / seaweed salad from a bowl. You / hold my hands as we share these long / silences. Because / I’m a Buddhist, I recite, Namu-amida-butsu, at noon / over lunch, and very late at night. But I don’t pray for the Japanese. I pray / for myself because I crave / a word. I want it to avalanche into my eyes / like a kaleidoscope for the dead, but the sky / glares as usual because I’m so / often lost in this foreign / grey. I take my two fingers and push / them into my breasts. I say, If I / die with cancer, for example? You rub / my left breast. My brown / nipples are so cold at 2:30 A.M.
Namu-amida-butsu is a phrase from Buddhist prayer.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
after Japan, 3/11/2011
A woman lies with diapers full of sea water. Her legs remind me of a giant rubber band I shot in math class, summer 1993. I shot it at you, a love note landing on your thigh. I wanted for you to return it so my palm could feel your fingers like drops of eternal silver. That day spiderworts lined the streets in puddles going home. Your eye sockets were full of mud. “I cannot see my future,” you said as you plucked the rubber band. I stand up shouting, “Are you alright?” There is a baby underneath her. I smell my warm sweat.