This week we’re featuring a new poem by Bern Mulvey. Mulvey’s second book, Deep Snow Country, won the 2013 Field Poetry Prize. He has published extensively in English and Japanese, including poems in Poetry, Agni, Field, Beloit Poetry Journal, Michigan Quarterly Review, Cimarron Review, Passages North, The Laurel Review, Snake Nation Review and Poetry East. His first book, The Fat Sheep Everyone Wants, won the Cleveland State University Poetry Center Prize and was published in 2008. He also has two award winning poetry chapbooks: Character Readings (Copperdome/Southeast Missouri State University Press, 2012) and The Window Tribe (White Eagle Coffee Store Press, 2005). He lives in Iwate, Japan.
Many of the poems in my current book deal with the challenges of living through the devastating earthquake/tsunami/reactor meltdown that struck northeastern Japan in 2011. (I live and work near what was the quake epicenter.) The book’s title, though, comes from the official government designation for this region: gousetsu chitai, or “the region of deep snows.” Typically, we’ll get our first significant snowfall here in early October…and the last in late April. Temperatures can also drop into the single digits even in March. This harsh climate, combined with the comparative isolation of the region, contributed both to the loss of life during the disaster and to the suffering afterward.
On the other hand, the six months without snow here are absolutely glorious! Everybody tries to stay outside as much as possible. And then, just when you relax and begin to believe winter impossible, on a day early in each October, suddenly the wind changes…and all the pleasantness stops.