- Paperback: 76 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (November 21, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1467971022
- ISBN-13: 978-1467971027
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.2 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,783,133 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Pond: Poems from Ueno Park and Shinobazu Pond Paperback – November 21, 2011
See the Best Books of 2018
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for the best books of the year in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
About the Author
Wayne Pounds, in what may have been an ill considered moment, was born in Oklahoma. Grew up there and in northern California, and began his graduate work in the jungles of Vietnam. Became a migrant worker in the academic bean fields, crossing three continents, then a full-time canner in a Tokyo beanery, where after twenty-five years, ae. 65, he has arrived at stasis. Spends his best hours trying to keep up with his eight-year-old daughter.
If you buy a new print edition of this book (or purchased one in the past), you can buy the Kindle Edition for FREE. Print edition purchase must be sold by Amazon. Learn more.
For thousands of qualifying books, your past, present, and future print-edition purchases now lets you buy the Kindle edition for $2.99 or less. (Textbooks available for $9.99 or less.)
Try the Kindle edition and experience these great reading features:
Showing 1-2 of 2 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
One suspects that lurking deep down within the primordial ooze at the bottom of the pond are Pounds' roots. As he writes in "In the Season when the Dead Return": "The poem might come to us in sleep like / The dead who visit the pond at night." These dead could perhaps be Pounds' subconscious responses to the lively, daily events that flit about on the surface of the sunlit pond.
As such, the collection comprises an esoteric mixture of: brief, pointed observations that pierce some universal insight, haiku-like in their spare, elegant delivery; wistful and reverent glimpses of people from the past; satire of state-sponsored corporate public relations blather; and poems that express Pounds' profound spirituality paradoxically manifested in his skepticism of religion's attempts to shackle spirituality to the temporality of forms. Pounds' poetry is at once vulnerable, brash, and comedic but above all playful.
As Pounds writes in "Theogony Song," "all deep things want to be song," but so do a lot of surface things for Pounds, and he captures such moments as "a sip of Suntory highball," the sound of a fourth grade class reciting a lesson, and a speaker ostensibly watching the news to the strains of New World Symphony.
In the end, though, after all the gaming, homages, serious business, and humorous irony, what Pounds gives us most is his honesty--and it is an honesty positioned from the unique vantage point of a Midwestern American ex-patriot living and raising his family in Japan.
Pounds is a paradoxical poet, one clearly serious and deeply read in his art but one who systematically undercuts us as soon as we begin reading too seriously. In "An Awakening" the speaker "was s*** on by a passing gull." Still, "Part II: The Kan'ei-ji Complex" lures us with deep responses to the sights on view there. The wistful speaker of "The Kan-ei-ji Bell Tower" seems to echo the melancholy tones of the bell as he calls for purity amid life's corruption: "Something wants our attention, / Something in the fading waver / Ringing for the hymen of the soul, / A passing hour."
The collection concludes with a humorous (yet disturbing) coda about the twisted cynicism the poet senses lurking beneath the spin of the TEPKO officials responsible for the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.
Above all, I highly recommend this collection of poetry to all who value playfulness with English language poetic forms but who also enjoy an easily accessible (and simultaneously literary) response to a world that more and more only seems to make sense for us when explained by the poets. And Pounds has stepped up to this task. But he does so with humility intact: "Muddying a notebook called Pond Babel. / It does nobody any good / But it's what my Master wills."
For Pounds, Tokyo's Shinobazu Pond is a place where he finally settles down and embraces the Now.
Clearly, Pounds views the pond as a humble metaphor for the infinity and eternity that a good poet can capture within the present moment. Accordingly, the influence of Japanese haiku and its ability to boil down the universe into a fleeting observation clearly informs Pounds' approach to poetry at this stage of his life. One senses that he has managed somehow--profoundly, quietly, and honestly--to share his spiritual insight with us.
Pounds can be contemplative, profound or funny in turns with a wit that is decidedly sharper than your average Ginsu poet.
I split my sides when I read Pounds' short, two couplet piece.
Remember, imbeciles and wits
The obscure fate of Dudley Fitts
Only ancient wisdom is
Solace to Man's miseries.
What was Fitts' "obscure fate?" To play second fiddle to Robert Fitzgerald? Was his "obscure fate' tied somehow to his `free' translations from the Greek, a transgression of which Ezra Pound is often accused? Or is it simply something in Fitts' biography, I, the reader, have yet to discover and may never know?
In his Opening Statement on Poetics, Pounds makes clear among the myriad objects of his poems, the "earthquakes and glacier thaws,/ epiphanies and eclipses" there will be "no Buddha-izing or proselytizing."
Each poem is beautifully crafted and with its own whirring internal dynamic. Never didactic, the beauty of these short pieces is in the being there.
The Pond, in this case Shinobazu Pond in Tokyo's Ueno Park, is the perfect place to confront demons, to reassess the past and to contemplate worlds. The poems feel as though they were created as the poet gazed out over the water of the pond.
The pond itself is divided into three parts. One part is called Lotus Pond (''', Hasu no Ike?) because of the plants that during the summer completely cover its surface, one is called Boat Pond (''''', B'to no Ike?) from the rental boats it hosts, and the third is called Cormorant Pond (''', U no Ike?), which lies within the limits of the Ueno Zoo and takes its name from the birds that inhabit it. Pounds also divides his collection into three parts.
Bentenjima and Bentendo temples are situated in the center of the pond and figure in several of the poems in The Pond.
The first three poems, Theogony Song, Salut and the highly erotic Ancient Matters deal with creation myths.
In Ancient Matters the male deity deckares:
"Let us walk then in opposite ways
Around this erected pillar and meet.
Then we'll take my excess and put it in
Your heavenly insufficiency."
The lines sound like a divinely elevated version of A.R. Ammons' "the diploid seeking the haploid condition" both in their own way pointing the reader's mind to the heart of Eros.
Ponds are the engines for the origins of life and creation and for taking stock of one's own experience which leads to a personal regeneration. So this also harkens back to the three creation myth poems which open the volume.
Then suddenly with the fourth poem we are plunged into the poet's personal history which now has become "A Life of Lotus Ponds ?". At "three score, I've come back to the pond edge" writes Pounds.
Many of Pounds' works have the flavor of haiku. I know virtually nothing about it but it seems to this reader that a Buddhist serenity and wit inform many of the poems driven by the peaceful null set of the pond, zero ground for contemplation and reflection.
In the poem Homage, Shinobazu Pond sparks an epiphany in the poet:
Instead of reaching Paradise at last
I'm sitting there all along -
These lines have the sure-footed paradox of a koan. Is the poet saying that experience is in itself an act of observation? Are we all perpetually looking out over our own Shinobazu Pond albeit without such illuminating results and splendid poems?
The third part of the collection entitled Coda After the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster March 2011 is a biting indictment not only of the nuclear power industry but of the whole nature of kleptocratic control which is rapidly reducing the planet to a cinder. The piece is rife with bitterness every ounce of it justified in the face of the world-wide catastrophe that awaits us even at it swallows up Bangladesh, Tuvalu and the Pacific Islands.
Pounds' observation of the lying stench of grasping greed that corrupts the hearts of men is equally a hard won product of his time on Shinobazu Pond.