Remix Poems – Spencer Karrat

I’ve spent my whole life moving from country to country every few years and after a while, they all began to blend together with the exception of a select few. Japan was one of those special chapters that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Every cultural aspect from the cuisine to the unique ambiance has left me longing to go back and live there again someday. Considering the fact that I’ve spent more time in Southeast Asia than in the United States where I was born, it only made sense for my remix poem to have some relationship to this aspect of my identity. This led to me seeking out key themes or events in Japanese history that tied them to the United States, which was a fairly straightforward process. The events that came up instantly were the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as the bombing of Pearl Harbor during World War 2. I ended up deciding to focus on the bombings in Japan in order to make my remixes and overall theme more cohesive. I decided to make both of my articles foreign perspectives on the event from different periods in time, the first being from around the time of the bombings and the second being a contemporary piece closer to today. I did this in order to contrast the language in both documents as a symbol of how the bombings were viewed in different eras as well as how Japan has recovered as a country in the years since the tragedy. The first article I chose is titled “To consult our hopes and not our fears” from the Access World News Research Collection. It was written on January 7, 1980, by Henry Steele Commager of Amherst College. The context of this article in addition to fulfilling the role of being the closest article I could find to the time of the bombing is that it condemns the acts of violence in World War 2, specifically the bombings in Japan, and expresses hope that we can learn from them. The language I used from this article had to do with learning from mistakes and recovering from disasters in the present tense. The second article I chose is titled “Hiroshima 71 years on: Candid portraits of survivors of atomic bomb” also from the Access World News Research Collection. It was written on May 27, 2016, by Alex Wheeler for the International Business Times: United Kingdom Edition. The context of this article fulfills the role of addressing the bombings closer to the present day and talks about how Japan has developed in the decades since. It looks into the stories of survivors and speaks about the incident in the past tense. The language I took from this article focuses on growth and the beauty that can arise after destruction.

A Nation In Bloom

Seventy years ago,
Hundred forty thousand dead,
Nuclear winter.

Rebuilt from nothing,
Two cities in ruins, re-grown,
Blooms like sakura.

Seventy years on,
A country re-built, re-grown,
Finds peace in summer.

The Survivors Stories

Keiko Ogura,
Hiroshima survivor,
Her burns have since scarred.

From Nagasaki,
Misako Katani, who
now lives with cancer.

Shigeaki Mori,
Hiroshima survivor,
bomb historian.

Emiko Okada,
Hiroshima survivor,
Now lives peacefully

Park Nam-Joo, suffers
from both breast and skin cancer,
Hiroshima survivor.

activist, Sunao Tsuboi,
From Hiroshima.

The style of a poem I decided to make was two sets of haikus. I felt this was appropriate since Haiku is a type of short-form poetry originally from Japan. Traditionally these kinds of poems have three phrases that contain a “kireji” (cutting word) in a 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables pattern. Haikus also typically contain a kigo (seasonal reference) which I attempted to incorporate through assigning a different season to each haiku in my first poem. I tried to transition from winter showing the desolation of the bombings to the sakura blossoms blooming in spring, to the consistency of summer to show the full recovery that the country made. My second poem also consisted of a series of haikus, this time focusing on the narratives of the survivors. I tried to incorporate all of them into this poem to show which bombing they survived and how they live now. I think the act of remixing in itself is poetic because it takes the narratives that have already been written and reworks them into something equally as beautiful if not more. I found this project to be very entertaining because I felt like even almost 80 years after the bombings people can still do work that has a positive impact on the tragedy.