Kazuko Shiraishi

Kazuko Shiraishi was born in Vancouver, Canada, in 1931. She lived in Vancouver until 1937 when she moved with her mother and father, a renowned journalist, back to Japan. Shiraishi studied at Waseda University but did not complete her studies. 

Shiraishi published her first poetry collection at the age of twenty, shortly after leaving university: Tamago no furu machi, translated as both Falling Egg City and The Town that Rains Eggs (Kyoritsu Shoten, 1951). The book is a Surrealist-influenced work about postwar Tokyo. Shiraishi was deeply influenced by both jazz and Beat poetry throughout her career, particularly the poetry of Allen Ginsberg, whose work she translated. Shiraishi was also a member of the Vou (pronounced “vow”) Club, a Tokyo-based group of visual poetry artists, led by the poet and visual artist Kitasono Katue. The group was most active during the 1960s and 1970s and was more gender-balanced than the coterie of Beat poets who influenced them. 

With the assistance of Kenneth Rexroth, English translations of Shiraishi’s work were published by New Directions. Her other collections included My Floating Mother, City (New Directions, 2009); Let Those Who Appear (New Directions, 2002); and Seasons of Sacred Lust (New Directions, 1978).

Shiraishi died on June 14, 2024.