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ERIC Number: EJ806202
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Jul-18
Pages: 1
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
Japan's Poetry Boxers Get Ready to Grumble
McNeill, David
Chronicle of Higher Education, v54 n45 pA1 Jul 2008
This article reports that in Japan, a scholar of communications, in the hope of getting people to talk with one another, holds "boxing" competitions in which the blows are thrown verbally, in verse. In a crowded Yokohama hall, boxers file into a ring watched by cheering students and a panel of university professors. Nobody is predicting a winner, but precedent favors the bookish, the verbally gifted, and the female. When Katsunori Kusunoki, a professor of communications at Tokyo's Kanto Gakuin University, suggested "poetry boxing" as a competitive sport, he was greeted with raised eyebrows. But 10 years later, the annual tournament is still going strong, pitting opponents against each other armed with motormouths instead of fists. Poetry boxing is face-to-face communication in its rawest form, before a live audience. The rules are simple: In a ring with a blue corner and a red corner, 16 boxers face off in pairs in intense, three-minute competitions of stand-up verse. Winners must negotiate a series of challenges that include a timed presentation and a nerve-racking round of improvised jousting, prompted by shouts from the panel of judges. A tuxedoed MC keeps the crowd amused with nicknames for the deliberately mismatched competitors. Occasional low blows are part of the fun. Anything is fair game, as long as it stays within the time limit. Competitors come armed with haiku, comics, fairy tales, minidramas, dance, and hip-hop set to monologues on topics as diverse as politics and "natto," the famously smelly fermented-bean paste. Verbal gladiators come from across the nation and from most layers of Japanese society: university students, housewives, the disabled, teachers, salarymen, pensioners. The youngest so far was 15; the oldest was 93, although he never got past a local preliminary.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Adult Education; Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Japan