shima: Poems (Paperback)

shima: Poems By sho yamagushiku Cover Image
Special Order - may be out of print


A vivid, expansive vision of intergenerational witness and repair.

The village is tilting on its axis. It is turning. All its organs are spilling into the bay.

shima is a mosaic of the emotional, psychic, and generational toll that exile from a pillaged culture impresses on a poet and his community. Come to haunt yamagushiku’s practice of ancestor veneration are photographs and a narrative that spans his own life and a mythic parallel filled with a voice as spare as it is present, yearning as it is precise. The poet says, I am taking the sharpest stick and poking the root ancestor. I am insisting that if he awakens I will have something useful to say.

Speaking through a cultural amnesia collected between a sunken past and a sensed, ghostly-dreamed future, shima anchors this interrogation of the relationship between father and son in the fragile connective tissue of memory where the poet’s homeland is an impossible destination.

About the Author

shō yamagushiku's work is grounded in a diasporic okinawan consciousness. He writes from the homelands of the Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples (Victoria, BC). His first poetry collection, entitled shima, reflects ancestors, violence, and tradition.

Praise For…

“Within the slip-leak-sputter of shō yamagushiku’s shima a familiar vocabulary for life, spirit, and searching ripples away from the page, ‘reborn as a sick fish with strange fins.’ Each scale sheens with mirror-worlds that break when asked, ‘Aren’t you tired?’ To swim with this bioluminescence is to learn to sit with failure, of inherited habits of violence that no known ritual can shake, except the half-dreamed one a poet chances upon in silence, in letting go. shima is a ‘clearing full of presence’ for the music of one’s body, memory, and history. The most skeptical and faithless part of me turned with awe.”
—Jane Shi, author of Leaving Chang'e on Read

"What do you call the act of witnessing, in real time, the movement of a person in the process of liberating themselves from the ruins and the roots of the past by transforming, or being transformed, into the embodiment of an entirely new, self-flourishing ecosystem? Testifying? Empowering? Dis-empiring? Reading? I don’t know that I read shō yamagushiku’s shima so much as I become sensitized to and botanized by its forms of resistance and hard-won revelations. I cannot explain or express, really, what this work means to me. It is meaning, a reintegration of the future, and, in poetry, my chosen family."
—Brandon Shimoda, author of Hydra Medusa

“This remarkable debut reads like a compressed epic, each line attuned to its place within the poem, but also to the sweep of the composition. As one page turns to the next, centuries and continents shift and families thin and thread into new communities. The poems leave fragments of history in their wake, which we collect and just as we feel them cohering into a whole, everything recedes like a dream.”
—Kaie Kellough, author of Magnetic Equator

“Stunning, lyrical. . . . Many of [yamagushiku’s] poems capture the ferocity and beauty of movement in the natural world as a way to pay homage to his ancestral home. . . . whether it’s whirlpools in the oceans or the raging precipitation of a typhoon. As you come across these poems in the collection, you’re forced to shift with the poem, moving your body as if on the same journey as the elements themselves.”
Victoria Buzz
Product Details
ISBN: 9780771010927
ISBN-10: 0771010923
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Publication Date: March 26th, 2024
Pages: 96
Language: English