A Hundred Gourds 2:2 March 2013
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Kozue Uzawa – Tanka poet, Founder and Editor of GUSTS.

| Introduction | page 2 | page 3 | page 4 |

Kozue Uzawa was born in Tokyo, in 1942. Like all school children in Japan, she became familiar with haiku and tanka, along with other forms of poetry. After teaching high school for a few years, she decided to broaden her horizons and satisfy her curiosity about different countries. She’d heard that Vancouver was “the most beautiful city in North America,” so she emigrated to Canada in 1971, falling in love with the city on the day of her arrival. She adapted well to all the new sights, sounds, and customs, although she admits to missing her mother’s cooking.

Kozue attended an ESL class, where she made some friends, while keeping in contact with her family back home. For a while, she worked in the library at the University of British Columbia (UBC), eventually furthering her own education by getting an MA and PhD in second language education. Kozue went on to teach at various universities, including UBC, Western Washington University, and the University of Lethbridge in Alberta. She was struck by the number of international students in the West, compared to her experience in Tokyo where her fellow students were all Japanese.

Over the years, Kozue noticed that most Canadians were not familiar with tanka. She wondered if, by translating modern Japanese tanka into English, these lyrical five-line poems would be better accepted in her adopted country. She hoped people would learn to love the form as much as she did, so started jotting down some favourite Japanese tanka in her notebook and translating them into English. In 1999, Kozue’s first translations appeared in the Tanka Journal, No. 14.

At the same time, she thought it wise to write tanka in English, herself. Thinking that the short, light English tanka were most like the Japanese ones, she kept her own tanka to about 20 syllables. She was greatly encouraged by the Canadian poet Marianne Bluger, whose writing she admired.


Kozue Uzawa

Kozue continues to run the tanka website she began in 2001, as well as Tanka Canada’s website for GUSTS. With the help of Australia’s Amelia Fielden, she has published two books of tanka translations. One, Ferris Wheel: 101 Modern and Contemporary Tanka, (Cheng and Tsui, Boston) received the 2007 Donald Keene Translation Award for Japanese Literature from Columbia University. Kozue’s also published three collections of her own tanka – two in Japanese and one in English. The latter, I’m a Traveler, a collection of tanka, was published in 2011 by Modern English Tanka Press and is reviewed later in this article. For publication and ordering information, contact: MET Press .

In 2005, Kozue was involved with the founding of Tanka Canada and, along with Angela Leuck, published GUSTS, Canada’s first tanka journal. I’ll let her elaborate on the history of this publication.