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2018 Frost Place Chapbook Fellow Yuki Tanaka

Meet Yuki Tanaka

Yuki Tanaka was born and raised in Yamaguchi, Japan. He is an MFA student at the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas-Austin. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Best New Poets, Kenyon Review, Poetry, and elsewhere. His translations of modern Japanese poetry (with Mary Jo Bang) have appeared in New Republic, Paris Review, and A Public Space, among other journals. He is poetry editor of Bat City Review.

2018 Judge Sandra Lim’s Praise for Séance in Daylight

Séance in Daylight is about desire, transformation, and dreams; it is also about intricate, yet light-footed sessions with the dead. The ever-present undertow of the poet’s sharp observations keeps these lush, yet lapidary lyrics from slipping into solipsism or sentimentality. ‘Back home, my body thin and healthy / cooling my feet on a crystal ball like a psychic out of business,’ says one speaker, returning from an imagined visitation. These poems remind us that at times, life’s very existence feels unbearably inexplicable, beautiful, perverse, moody, and touching. Yuki Tanaka connects these feelings with a spiritual intensity and a sweet wit. His images startle, ‘A bare white arm / disinfected. Plump, sizzling,’ and they pierce into our inwardness, ‘This pile of wood wished to be a stairway / but couldn’t. Will you pretend to climb it.'”

— Sandra Lim

“Homecoming” from Séance in Daylight

By Yuki Tanaka

In the heart of a forest, a boy leans on
a light-lashed horse. He’s not crying.
The horse unhurt, just as a husk
is unhurt. Lost in the forest, stroking

the frosted skin of its muscular neck,
he looks far ahead. Someone waiting.
He thinks, Make our journey last
a little longer. Say: it was a small

beautiful town. He was loved by friends.
No, he says, he had only the horse. Horse
made of white threads. Pull them out,
and the horse would lose its strength

and collapse into a man. The idea
is comforting. He could tell the horse,
who is now a man, he is tired
and cannot go on.

(first published in American Poetry Review)