Hikikomori, a Japanese term meaning “pulling inward,” is used to describe mostly young adults who withdraw from society and remain secluded in their bedrooms for long periods, sometimes decades. The syndrome causes the sufferer and their family great pain as well as emotional and spiritual deprivation. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting global lockdowns, it is possible that a sharp increase in hikikomori cases will appear around the world. This collection of poems was written during this desperate global situation. Each poem is accompanied by a short explanation to assist readers. Simple, uncommon drawings enhance the experience of reading and returning to this collection.
POETRY / General
ISBN: 978-1-951651-92-3 (print; softcover; perfect bound)
Virginia Aronson is the author of the chapbooks Itako (Clare Songbirds Publishing, 2020) and Tropical Diagnoses (Finishing Line Press, 2011). She is the director of FNR Foundation, which published Mottainai: A Journey in Search of the Zero Waste Life (Dixi Books, 2019). FNR supports nonprofit organizations that work to improve the broken food system and make healthy food available to all or teach ways of feeding and eating that are good for the earth.
Rose-Ann San Martino studied drawing and painting at the Corcoran School of Art. Her work has been shown in group and solo exhibitions and is held in private collections. She provided illustrations for The Journey from Oz, a self-help book on depression, and has taught art classes in North Carolina, where she lives with her artist husband, several chickens, and some rambunctious cats.
“The poems in Hikikomori are timely, each filled with the author’s deep insight and sharp sense of the universal. Hikikomori was once a secret kept hidden by Japanese families. Now, like so many around the world, I too have been at home for many months. After our challenge with Covid-19 is over, we all might realize there is no distinction anymore between ‘normal’ and hikikomori.”
“In her deftly constructed poetry book Hikikomori, Virginia Aronson builds a house of mirrors reflecting our social isolation. My enjoyment of the collection was enhanced by the notes following each poem, explaining the aspects of hikikomori in Japanese and English terms. Hikikomori is an appropriate metaphor for the lure of staying home and withdrawing into binge watching and gaming and its impact on the individual and society, even before the pandemic. This, of course, is the final epiphany of Aronson’s collection—we are all reflected in her house of mirrors.”
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