A Field Sing-A-Long (Dowa-ya) is a collection of short free-verse poems translated by William I. Elliott and Nishihara Katsumasa from Naoko Kudō’s Japanese originals.
Naoko’s poems are set in a natural community called “Field Village.” Various creatures or elements of the habitat—personified with human names such as “Yoshio Rivercrab” and “Futago Rabbit”—act as “poets,” offering their unique perspectives. The hundred-plus poems are accompanied by simple, cartoon-like illustrations and are organized into sections, though none of the sections has a title or obvious theme.
The identity of each narrator gives context to the poems’ evocative nature imagery, as in “A Smiling Face” by Shizuko Pond:
When something delightful happens
a ripple spreads
across the surface of my heart.
is my smiling face.
Some of the poems are light and fun; others are silly. Some offer a reflective, almost innocent insight, like “Heart,” by Kenkichi Puppy:
When in sorrow, I’m all drag-tailed.
When joyful, I let it flutter light as a feather.
My heart’s in my tail.
Hayato Brook’s “To the Sea” is sweet and simple:
Easy to read and understand, this collection is a lovely introduction to free verse.