by Sion Morgan, Wales On Sunday
Mar 27 2011
IN a nation where poetry is revered, a Welsh writer has found a loyal following capturing the mood of panic-stricken Japan in the wake of the tsunami.
Swansea-born Jon Mitchell has lived in Japan for more than a decade, writing on culture and social issues, penning verse and screenplays.
Since the quake and devastating tidal wave on March 11, the work posted on his blog has found a welcoming audience both among expatriates and Japanese.
In one piece, written eight days after the 8.8-magnitude quake and titled simply 8.8+8, he wrote that his neighbours seemed surprised he had not fled with most other foreigners.
in this neighbourhood for 8 years
– in the rattle of an aftershock
and a mouthful of kurobuta ham –
i finally found out
the names of those next door
the nicknames they have for me
what it means to be
One fan, Joseph Treadwell, who contacted Wales on Sunday, said his work deserved greater attention.
He said: “I’d like you to know that there is a Welsh writer in Japan who has kept my spirits up during these difficult times. His name is John Mitchell. All the foreigners have fled Tokyo but he has kept our spirits up by blogging and adding updates on FB (Facebook).
“He has really kept many foreigners in Japan with his poems of hope. I know Wales has many poets who have really contributed, but Jon Mitchell deserves attention.”
Mr Mitchell’s work has appeared in Japanese magazines and he is an accomplished screenwriter.
In an interview last year, he told the Japan Times: “I sold my first poem at 17 years old, and when I came to Japan at 23, I started writing about Japanese pop culture, articles for magazines in Wales and Britain, a lot of poetry about Japan at that time.
“It’s been escalating, my writing, from short pieces like poetry and articles to screenplays and now a novel, longer and longer pieces.”
Mr Mitchell blogs at onliesforlonelies.blogspot.com
on kawasaki’s nakamise dori
the neon’s doused
the barkers have armed themselves
with miner’s helmets
and chemical light-sticks
to shine on their catalogues of girls.
around the entrances of their clubs
they’ve strung every type of battery-operated
light they could get their [filthy] hands on
flashing pikachus and xmas snowmen
mickeys and minnies
jesus in a manger
and a working statue of the brussels p*** boy.
but none of this
can hold a candle
to the chinese massage girls
who’ve daubed green glow-paint
on their cheeks, thighs and bellies
and are offering
– for tonight
and tonight only –
a thousand-yen donation to tohoku
with every 40-minute course.
[Original article appears here]