Killing Kanoko is a striking, important collection by a radical Japanese feminist poet essential to contemporary Japanese poetry. As Jeffrey Angles says in his contextualizing introduction to the collection, Itō's seventies and eighties collections "completely transformed the ways people were writing in Japan." Her work changed the way women wrote and, more broadly, brought the colloquial further into Japanese poetry. Itō's poems still read as shockingly new in Angles's intense translations. The poems explore childbirth, motherhood, sexuality, community, and more through an honest, often shocking lens that renders feelings of entrapment and intense affection visceral and important. Jerome Rothenberg says that Itō's work "breaks down barriers of language & gender, bringing an unprecedented erotic energy & eruptions of transgressive & domestic excess into areas of deep myth & shamanistic performance."
This book review originally appeared in American Poets.