Teenagers Make Splendid Use Of Their Poetic License


Teenagers make splendid use of their poetic licenseIt is a privilege to be young. Teenage years are a time to explore and absorb anything that catches one’s interest.
Momoko Oishi, a third-year junior high school student in Chiba Prefecture, penned this refreshing poem: “Time flies amazingly when I read a book/ Some strange force transports me.”


Mizuho Sato, a second-year senior high school student in Akita Prefecture, wrote: “The gentle breeze ruffles my sleep-tousled hair as I walk to school/ A nonfiction called ‘Today’ starts.”

These pieces were among some 57,000 submissions to Toyo University’s “Gendai Gakusei Hyakunin Isshu”(100 tanka poems by students today) for publication this year.

The university has been compiling poems submitted by students nationwide since 1988, and this year’s 29th collection is indicative of the broadness of subjects that are currently of interest to Japanese teenagers.

The nation marked the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II last year. The landmark year obviously taught Shoko Kurabayashi something. The first-year junior high school student wrote, “There was a look of desperate pleading on the face of the person who recounted his wartime experiences/ Telling us we must never go to war.”

Taku Shibuya, a second-year senior high school student, asked this question: “How many more textbook pages must we turn/ Before we have genuine peace?”

Some teens voiced anxiety over the lowering of the voting age from 20 to 18.

A poem by Hanaka Omuro, s second-year senior high school student, went: “I’ll be voting next year/ But I still can’t even decide what I want to do after high school.”

Self-awareness has awakened already in Tomonori Shimizu, a third-year junior high school student. He wrote: “At present, the right to vote is nothing more than a subject I’m studying in civics class/ But three years from now, I’ll be personally responsible for exercising that right.”

A strong message came from Fukushima Prefecture. Yoshinobu Yabuki, a first-year senior high school student, declared, “I was crying and feeling totally helpless after 3/11/ But not anymore/ It’s time to make myself useful.”

And from Kobe, where the Great Hanshin Earthquake struck in 1995, Yuka Tachibana, a second-year senior high school student, wrote, “‘Please visit us again,’ said a person in Tohoku/ These words spell a permanent bond between Kobe and Tohoku.”

I sense young romance in this charmer by Shie Miyazaki, a second-year senior high school student: “On the blackboard I can still see a slight trace of my name in your handwriting.”

And here’s a heartwarmer by Fumi Komiyama, a first-year senior high school student: “I like winter/ I like the smell of snow/ I like the Orion constellation/ And I like your hand that holds mine when I say I am cold.”

Youth is not forever. I want young people to embrace every precious moment of their teenage years.