Over the summer, Andy Fitch has interviewed 60 poets about their latest books. Ugly Duckling Presse will publish these collected interviews in 2013. This interview focuses on Shimoda’s book O Bon (Litmus Press). Recorded May 25. Transcribed by Maia Spotts.
Andy Fitch: In O Bon’s author statement (itself perhaps more poem than transparent autobiographical record) you mention, as poets often do, the desire to create a ritual space through or within the text. Yet your book, unlike many, points toward a quite specific ritual space, one associated with both the Obon holiday and Bon Odori dance. Can you provide some sense of how these particular cultural practices work their way into the idiom, thematics, and/or architecture of the book—especially in terms of its emphases upon honoring one’s ancestors while enacting a dance or procession?
Brandon Shimoda: I’m still trying to figure that all out. This goes back to 1988, when I first experienced the Obon festival and dance as a 10-year-old, standing with my family on a bridge in Kyoto. A lot of this book comes from trying to piece together what happened on that beautiful and terrifying night.