Red Leaves /紅葉 – Issue 1, 2010
It’s hard to write about anthologies and mention only some of the artists within, as I often feel guilty, even though I know it’s impossible to mention everything in a single review. Having said that, there are plenty of luminaries alongside the newer voices inside issue one of Red Leaves/紅葉 (the first English/Japanese bi-lingual literary journal).
Instead I want to talk about the anthology itself, as I really found it exciting, and because it’s just a beautiful collection of work. Editors Kirk Marshall and Yasuhiro Horiuchi certainly do justice to the concept of a bi-lingual journal. The writing has been beautifully translated by Sunny Suh, Asami Nishimura and Joo Whan Suh so anyone able to understand both kanji and English, is given the pleasure of reading the work in both languages, and seeing what subtle differences exist. But if, like me, you can only read English, then Red Leaves/紅葉will not disappoint, as the Japanese contributions have been translated into English. So too, if you read kanji but not English, the English text has been translated. And it is the massive work of the translations that represents a true gift, not just to the reader, but the writers within, who now have their work accessible to two cultures.
The book is a triumph from a design standpoint too. Starting from the ‘front’ it reads in English from left to right. The content is then mirrored from the ‘back’ reading right to left in kanji, and having contributor bios meet in the middle. Liberty Browne has also graced the anthology with a clean and balanced presentation so important in a larger-format anthology, which is not quite A4, and runs to over 160 pages per language.
For me, there’s a clear parallel between this anthology (and other modern anthologies like GDS for example) and truly dynamic albums – the ones that cover multiple genres and styles, where across just twelve or so songs, you get a glimpse of everything. Red Leaves/紅葉 is like that. Inside Issue 1, there is poetry, short fiction, manga and artwork, spread across wide-ranging styles and themes, from the highly experimental to more traditional pieces.
Red Leaves is available at Polyester Books (Melbourne), Brunswick St Books (Melbourne), Readings (St Kilda) & Avid Reader (Brisbane).
Ashley Capes teaches Media and English in Victoria. He moderates online renku site ‘Issa’s Snail’ and simple poetry site ‘kipple’. His second poetry collection, Stepping Over Seasons, was released by IP in 2009 and a new haiku chapbook Orion Tips the Saucepan was released by Picaro Press in 2010. He occasionally dabbles in film, is very slowly learning piano and loves Studio Ghibli films. Most recently, he led the ‘Zombie’ renga at Cordite Poetry Review.