KFG FOR 2603
Jasmin Böhm: Voices from the In-Between: The Poetry of Tawada Yōko
In her poems, Tawada constructs liminal speaking subjects – voices from the in-between – which disrupt entrenched binary thought processes. Synthesising relevant concepts from theories of such diverse fields as lyricology, performance studies, border studies, cultural and postcolonial studies, I develop ‘voice’ and ‘in-between space’ as the frameworks to approach Tawada’s multifaceted poetic output, from which I have chosen 29 poems and two verse novels for analysis. Based on the body speaking/writing, sensuality is central to Tawada’s use of voice, whereas the in-between space of cultures and languages serves as the basis for the liminal ‘exophonic’ voices in her work. In the context of cultural alterity, Tawada focuses on the function of language, both its effect on the body and its role in subject construction, while her feminist poetry follows the general development of feminist academia from emancipation to embodiment to queer representation. Her response to and transformation of écriture féminine in her verse novels transcends the concept of the body as the basis of identity, moving to literary and linguistic, plural self-construction instead. While few poems are overtly political, the speaker’s personal and contextual involvement in issues of social conflict reveal the poems’ potential to speak of, and to, the multiply identified citizens of a globalised world, who constantly negotiate physical as well as psychological borders.