Signed limited first edition of this poetry collection by the first Japanese-American photojournalist, one of 365 numbered copies signed by the author.
Under the scowling sky<br />The frozen sand plain stretches<br />Curled and crisp, two leaves<br />Scud away.
Born in a village near Hiroshima, Japan, Fujita moved to Chicago at age 20, eventually becoming the first photojournalist for the CHICAGO EVENING POST. As a photographer, he recorded major events such as the St. Valentine's Day massacre, the 1919 race riots, and labor strikes. But he also became known for his portrait photography and worked as a silent film actor, coming into contact with Chicago gangsters like Al Capone, renowned intellectuals like Albert Einstein, literary peers like Carl Sandburg, and movie stars like Charlie Chaplain. During World War II, Fujita faced financial devastation as the government froze his assets, despite having lived in the States for over three decades.
Frustrated that haiku by contemporary poets lacked an "essential Japanese quality," Fujita published this book only in this limited edition. It contains tanka, a traditional form of Japanese poetry similar to haiku but with more syllables, written in English and organized in a common Japanese order by season. The poems use nature themes – semantically loaded concepts in Japanese poetry – to ruminate on life as an immigrant, loneliness, and what it means to be an American. Wenying Xu notes that, while Sadakichi Hartmann included some tanka in DRIFTING FLOWERS OF THE SEA (1904), Fujita's publication was the first American tanka collection.
Read more: Moore, "Behind the Lens of a Trailblazing Chicago Photojournalist," Chicago Magazine, 21 January 2020; Robinson, The Great Unknown: Japanese American Sketches, 209; Xu, Historical Dictionary of Asian American Literature and Theater, 217.
Chicago: Covici-McGee Co, 1923. 7.75'' x 5.75''. Original quarter black cloth, purple paper boards, gilt-lettered spine. Fore-edge and bottom edge uncut. , 61,  pages. Signed by Fujita in black ink on title page. Some signatures unopened. Spotting and some wear to spine, else remarkably clean: text block beautiful.
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