Living Spirit
Literature & Resurgence in Okinawa

Series Editor Frank Stewart
Guest Editor Katsunori Yamazato

Almost Heaven
On the Human and Divine

Editor Frank Stewart

Living Spirit: Literature & Resurgence in Okinawa is a companion volume to Voices from Okinawa. Living Spirit is a collection of compelling prose and poetry representative of the Okinawan renaissance that began in the 1960s. Katsunori Yamazato, who worked with us on Voices, again serves as guest editor.

The authors include Kathy Foley, Kawamitsu Shinichi, Makiminato Tokuzo, Matayoshi Eiki, Medoruma Shun, Nagado Eikichi, Nakawaka Naoko, Nobuko Miyama Ochner, Oshiro Sadatoshi, Oshiro Tatsuhiro, Sakiyama Tami, Takara Ben, Tamagusuku Chokun, Unna Nabii, Yamanoguchi Baku, Yonaha Mikio, and Yushiya Chiruu. Photographs by Higa Yasuo from his book Maternal Deities comprise the art. The images are of sacred religious rites conducted in the islands by women.

Other works include contemporary and traditional poetry, drama, songs, and essays. The modern poets are Yamanoguchi, Kawamitsu, Yonaha, Makiminato, and Takara. Playwrights are Oshiro and Tamagusuku. Traditional pieces include ryuka by Yushiya and Unna, folk songs, and shaman songs. The essays are by Oshiro Sadatoshi, Foley, and Ochner.

More information: Okinawa blog

Each of the stories, poems, and essays in Almost Heaven is about the appearance of a divine moment or presence—which may take many forms and names. One such presence is depicted here in the play Damien, by Aldyth Morris, based on the Belgian priest who cared for victims of leprosy on the island of Moloka‘i. Some measures of goodness are large and celebrated, as in the lives of saints such as Father Damien. Some occur in the seemingly modest works of people who choose to regard those around them with extraordinary compassion. Sometimes goodness can seem inexplicably courageous and even miraculous.

The authors in Almost Heaven—who write from diverse traditions and viewpoints—include Chester Aaron, Alai, Nick Bozanic, Sur Das, W. S. Di Piero, Brian Doyle, Thomas Farber, Gene Frumkin, Eduardo Galeano, Forrest Gander, James D. Houston, Barry Lopez, Patrick Madden, Naomi Shihab Nye, Sanat Regmi, Michelle Cruz Skinner, Lisa Erb Stewart, and John Zuern.

Also included are extraordinary images reproduced from glass-plate negatives made at Kalaupapa, Moloka‘i, in the early twentieth century, from the collection of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts United States Province.

296 pp., summer 2011 (23:1), out of print
ISBN 978-0-8248-3617-7
Project Muse

176 pp. winter 2011 (23:2), $20
ISBN 978-0-8248-3675-7
Project Muse