Japanese poet Shuntarō Tanikawa is the recipient of the “Golden Wreath” Award of the SPE for 2022

The recipient of the “Golden Wreath” Award for 2022, the main award of the “Struga Poetry Evenings”, is the most significant living Japanese poet, Shuntarō Tanikawa. This decision was announced at the official event at the Macedonian Academy of Arts and Sciences, where, alongside the announcement of the SPE Laureate, the World Poetry Day on the 21st of March was celebrated with a poetry reading by prominent poets, all of them members of the Macedonian PEN Center and the Macedonian Writer’s Association. The award will be presented to the laureate during the “Bridges” poetic reading, one of the central events of this year’s festival edition, planned to take place from the 24th to 29th August. In the explanation of the decision, Professor Elizabeta Sheleva, PhD, President of the Managing Board of the “Struga Poetry Evenings”, notes: “The terse relief of his voice and the abridgement of the moment, as opposed to the narrativity of the verse is the fundamental feature which separates Shuntarō from the poetic tendencies of the West. On the other hand, the quiet fashioning of this verse, shaped in such way that modernity seems like tradition, is a key feature which separates this lyricism (Shuntarō’s) as unique among most poets from the distant East.” Shuntarō constructs his poetics by surrendering himself to the gravity of the metaphysical, and thus making a deep incision into the empirical tissue of the language. He builds the poetry of language from the language of poetry. The poetic voice of Shuntarō is embodied in the endless space between the endemic (oftentimes heretical and ethereal) lyricism and the celebration of antipoetry, which opposes the traditional poetic structures, motives and styles (the forerunner of which was his Chilean contemporary Nikanor Parra). The purification of metaphors as opposed to the shining glow of the images in his creative mirror takes Shuntarō back to the “hut”, under the tree of the haiku master Bashō. Shuntarō Tanikawa (born in Tokyo in 1931 as the only son of the philosopher Tetsuzō Tanikawa) is the most significant living Japanese poet, whose poetry autonomously travels not only through the wondrous “waters” of language, but through a string of creative transformations into music, film, images or calligraphy. He is the most productive, the most widely-read, the most influential, and the most innovative poet in Japan, whose works have been translated into many languages. He is the author of 80 poetry collections, and has won numerous literary prizes in and out of Japan. His poems appear not just in renowned literary magazines, but also in public school text books and mass media. Shuntarō is also the author of play scripts and film scenarios, while being a productive essayist, translator and author of children’s literature. His debut collection Two Billion Light-Years of Solitude in 1952 startled his peer poets and literary critics as something they had never seen before and established itself as the new milestone for the post WWII Japanese poetics. He has been awarded with a plethora of prestigious prizes, such as: the Yomiuri Literary Prize in 1983, the Modern Poetry Hanatsubaki Prize in 1985, Takashi Saida Prize in 1987, Shogakukan Literary Prize in 1988, the American Book Award in 1989, the Yutaka Maruyama Memorial Modern Poetry Prize in 1991, the First Sakutaro Hagiwara Award in 1993, the Asahi Prize in 1996, Sasakawa Foundation Prize in 1998, Ding Jun Literary Prize in China in 2005, Mongolian Writers Union Prize in 2008, the First Nobuo Ayukawa Prize in 2010, Zhongkun International Poetry Prize in 2011, the Tatsuji Miyoshi Prize in 2016, the Japan Foundation Prize in 2019, while his name is often mentioned as a potential candidate for the “Nobel Prize in Literature”. Shuntarō’s poetry was first introduced into the Macedonian language thanks to the poetic selection “Minimal”, published in the “Pleiades” edition of the Struga Poetry Evenings in 2005, translated by Zoran Anchevski. In his official address to the Macedonian public, Shuntarō Tanikawa says: “Is it I alone who feel a kind of loneliness whenever I receive a prize or award? It is the singular feeling that I stand alone among many poets and that along with the joy and pride of being elected as an award-winner, I feel even conspicuous among my fellow-poets. But in thinking about the late Makoto Ooka, a great friend of mine, who received this award in 1996, my loneliness vanishes and instead affection for my fellow-poets and would-be poets swells even though we live in different ages, different circumstances and mother tongues in such troubled times on this vulnerable Earth. Old age is gradually depriving me of bodily free movement but, strangely enough, my mind moves lightly all the more for its restriction. I make it a rule to speak of human age as growth rings of a tree. And old age looks as if it were moving backward toward the center of those rings as we grow older. So, I’m now dreaming of having words, born out of body along with brain, like lovers’ talk, besides words with their normal meanings.”