Wild Grass on the Riverbank
by Hiromi Itō

Translated by Jeffrey Angles.

Poetry. Asian & Asian American Studies. Japan Studies. Women’s Studies.
ISBN: 9780989804844
Pub Date 1 January 2015

Set simultaneously in the California desert and her native Japan, tracking migrant children who may or may not be human, or alive, Hiromi Itō’s Wild Grass on the Riverbank will plunge you into dreamlike landscapes of volatile proliferation: shape-shifting mothers, living father-corpses, and pervasively odd vegetation. At once grotesque and vertiginous, Itō interweaves mythologies, language, sexuality, and place into a genre-busting narrative of what it is to be a migrant.

“Informed by a brilliant ferality and tour-de-force grotesqueries, Wild Grass on the Riverbank plays upon elements of traditional Japanese sekkyō-bushi to explore the weird defamiliarizations and surreal transplantations of postmodern diaspora. Diaspora is infused with the organic horrors of sexual vines and seedpods, invasive spores, reanimated decomp, and naturalization means to be eaten alive by bugs and wild grasses. A challenging linguistic undertaking deftly translated by Jeffrey Angles, this is a stunningly brutal and relentlessly innovative book by Japan’s ‘shamaness of poetry.’”

– Lee Ann Roripaugh, author of Dandarians


Poetry Foundation | Heavy Feather Review | VICE


Hiromi Itō, born in 1955 in Tokyo, is one of the most important and highly regarded poets in Japan. Since her sensational debut in the late 1970s as a free-spirited and intelligent female poet with shamanisitic qualities, Ito has published more than 10 collections of poetry including such monumental works as Oume (Green Plums, 1982), Watashi wa Anjuhimeko de aru (I am Anjyuhimeko, 1993), and Kawara Arekusa (Wild Grass upon a Riverbank, 2005) which won the prestigious Takami Jun Award.


Dr. Jeffrey Angles is an associate professor and advisor of Japanese in the Department of World Languages and Literatures at Western Michigan University. Angles’ lifelong interest in Japan and Japanese literature began when he went to southwestern Japan as a 15-year-old exchange student. Since then he has gone to Japan multiple times, spending many years working and studying in various cities including Saitama City, Kobe and Kyoto. Much of his critical work has focused on expressions of ideology within 20th century and 21st century literature and film from Japan, especially of the modernist era. His study of representations of same-sex desire in the literature of the interwar period was published in 2011.