Matsuki Masutani's debut collection of poetry I will be more myself in the next world (Mother Tongue $19.95) contains poems written in both English and Japanese. The collection went on to win a Canada-Japan Literary Award in 2023. By 2024, the book went into its fifth printing, a major accomplishment for a BC poet.

Matsuki Masutani is a poet and translator living on Denman Island. He moved from Tokyo to Vancouver in 1976. Ten years later he moved to Denman Island, where he eventually began writing poems in English and Japanese. He has translated Canadian works such as Roy Kiyooka's Mothertalk, Hiromi Goto's Chorus of Mushrooms from English to Japanese. From Japanese into English, he translated Kishizo Kimura's memoir, Witness to Loss, published by McGill-Queen’s University Press in 2017.

Masutani's poems have appeared in Geist magazine, Capilano Review and in the anthology Love of the Salish Sea Islands.

Photo by Brian Grogan.


I will be more myself in the next world (Mother Tongue, 2021) $19.95 978-1-896949-87-1

[BCBW 2024]



One life, 110 pages

Matsuki Masutani of Denman Island covers a lot of ground in I will be more myself in the next world (Mother Tongue $19.95).

His writes of growing up in Japan, marrying a Canadian, moving to Vancouver and later the Gulf Islands, experiencing his elder years, ill health and having grandchildren.

He utilizes a minimalist style, artfully expressing his reflections in few words, but what he conveys is vast.

The first poem, which gives the book its title, begins: "I am / more than / my body / more than / what I think. / I am / more than / what I do / what I did / and what I will do. //"

Then, Masutani expands even this range of what a life is in the final verse: "Actually / I am / more than / what I am / in this world / and I feel / I will be more myself / in the next /world."

In addition to being a poet, Masutani is also a translator and one of the early artists he worked with was the multidisciplinary painter, photographer and poet, Roy Kiyooka (1926 – 1994). It was Kiyooka who encouraged Masutani to write poetry in both English and Japanese, and both languages are included in this collection.

Masutani often ends his poems with an unexpected twist. When he met his wife while travelling in Kathmandu, he says they stayed in "the travellers’ lifestyle" even while raising their children: "We are still in travellers' mode bumbling around in cafes and thrift shops in the neighbourhood," he writes, concluding, "going nowhere."

He shares that he ran away from his father in Japan, "to find out who I was." Forty years later, "I look back at my father and wonder, who he was."

Undergoing cancer treatment and feeling like he is dying, Masutani is told to "embrace" the chemo bottle around his neck. But he is afraid of the bottle that the nurse calls "a baby bottle." Nonetheless, he makes a resolution: "I must make my life more worthy."

He survives only to be diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. His wife tells him, "You were young for a long time and suddenly, poof, you're an old man."

In the final poem, Masutani turns mystical as he watches his newborn granddaughter sleeping. "Sometimes she shudders like a bewildered insect, a mystery from the other world." 978-1-896949-87-1

[BC BookWorld, 2021]