【Statement from KOTOBA Slam Japan】
May 14, 2023
We are Yuri Miki, World Poetry Slam Organization Vice President for Asia, and
Dr. Jordan A.Y. Smith, co-founders and managing representatives of KOTOBA Slam Japan ("KSJ").
We would like to provide the following statement regarding the recent slander(dissemination of false information) by a certain person at a poetry slam organized by the two of us and our team. In this statement, the name of the perpetrator will remain anonymous and will be referred to as the "perpetrator.”
It is not our intention or purpose to harm innocent people through unjustified attacks or overly quick labeling of the perpetrator by an unrelated third party. At the same time, however, as a national poetry slam organization in Japan, we have the responsibility to provide and disclose information to those who may need it. Any domestic or foreign organization or individual desiring more information or with questions, please contact us at the e-mail address at the end of this document and KSJ will gladly reply.
We will also be in touch with the national poetry slams and continental organizations with which KSJ is currently in contact or may be in contact in the future, and will share the details with all partners as soon as such details become available.
We hope you will take the time to read through this statement to the end.
On March 26, 2023, a tweet was sent out by the perpetrator.
The tweet has now been deleted and cannot be viewed, but we have saved a screenshot and this statement is based on that document.
In the tweet, the perpetrator said, "I heard from the former representative of Poetry Slam Japan (PSJ) over the phone that the audience vote was actually rigged," followed by the claim that due to this incident, PSJ director Murata Katsuhiko had resigned, Poetry Slam Japan was disbanded, and in its place we (who were volunteers and participants in Poetry Slam Japan) established KSJ. The tweet characterized this as "taboo in the Tokyo poetry reading and poetry scene.”
KSJ held an emergency meeting at the KSJ headquarters to address this comment.
In the process, we contacted Murata Katsuhiko, the PSJ representative director, to confirm the facts, and discussed the background and countermeasures on behalf of each national poetry slam.
The three major problems were as follows
(1) Whether or not cheating actually took place during the PSJ period.
(2) Did PSJ organizer Murata Katsuhiko talk to the perpetrators about the issue of cheating?
(3) Do the events at PSJ and KSJ fall under the category of "taboo in the poetry scene?
◎Answers to the Issues
(1) Was the hoax really conducted during the PSJ period?
Answer: There is no indication or evidence of "cheating" in the five years of the PSJ.
(2) Did PSJ organizer Murata Katsuhiko ever talk to the perpetrators about the issue of cheating?
Answer: Since there was no "cheating," Murata as the representative of PSJ, did not tell the perpetrator or anyone else about it.
(3) Does PSJ/KSJ in any way represent or has it committed anything "taboo in the poetry scene"?
Answer: PSJ was founded by Murata Katsuhiko, and KSJ was founded by Miki Yuuri and Jordan A.Y. Smith, as two completely different organizations, and there is no conflict of interest or official connection between them. Therefore, the context of conflating PSJ and KSJ is off the mark. As long as there was no cheating and there are no interests or connections, the criticism of the organization or its events as “taboo” does not apply.
*For the answers to (1) and (2), please see the official statement by Poetry Slam Japan's Twitter account for details.
As you can see from the answers to (1) through (3), we express our opinion that the perpetrator's statements are off-base and completely untrue.
◎From KSJ to all of you
This incident may have caused some people to feel uneasy or to distrust poetry slams and the poetry reading scene. In order to provide an explanation to such people, we have sent out this statement. We hope you will understand.
KSJ is also outraged by the malicious dissemination of false information regarding the transparency of the judging process of Japan's national poetry slam, which is the foundation of the credibility of the event and the organization, and the lack of respect for poetry slam culture, a spectator-judged event that has now spread throughout the world.
We will refrain from making a statement regarding the event management's response to the assailant (entry/exit to/from the venue, etc.), but we promise that we will create that the event contestants, spectators, and management staff can participate in the event with a sense of security.
Based on the lesson learned that such a situation may occur in the future, KSJ will clearly state its stance and response that it will not tolerate any kind of harm or defamation of the event, contestants, or related parties, and will establish the "No Harm" Project (tentative)!
The KSJ management and staff will continue to work together to make the event a place where many people involved in the poetry slam and poetry reading scene can share in the joy of the event. We hope that this will be a good opportunity to make new connections with those who have come to know KSJ, and we look forward to the future.
From Yuri Miki
Six years. It has been a long time.
Six years ago, the perpetrator of the slander of an event I organized (who was also a performer at the event), has been persistently making fun of and slandering me and my events on the Internet.
And now, the assault on KSJ has clearly occurred as well.
There has never been an apology for all the assaults.
When we encounter slander, we are often forced to choose silence or acquiescence out of anger/sadness/embarrassment, and secondary perpetration by defending the perpetrators, encouraging or discouraging the victims from speaking out, tone-policing criticism, and the cynical dismissal that we are "overreacting." I am one such person, and I am writing this message in the hope that some of you reading this may be in the same boat.
Please speak up. When you meet someone who speaks up, please be there for them.
If we can all do that, the long, heavy, dark silence will disappear from this world.
Even in Japan – generally known as an orderly and polite nation – the misogyny and old boys' club mentalities are still commonplace.
As the first woman poet to win the National Poetry Slam Champion in this country, the only consecutive national champion, the first female National Poetry Slam organizer in this country, the Vice President for Asia of WPSO working with different countries around the world, and the first female National Poetry Slam organizer in this country, I am committed to make this country a better place to live and work.
From Jordan A. Y. Smith
I’ve been involved in the Japanese poetry world as a translator of contemporary poetry, a professor at 6 universities (3 in Japan and 3 in the US) where I taught Japanese literature and translation, Vice Director of the International Modern Poetry Center at Josai, the Editor-in-Chief of Tokyo Poetry Journal, and served as the translator for Poetry Slam Japan and KSJ.
I have read poetry on stage for years with all the people involved, including the Perpetrator and the one person I know who supports what I see as the totally bizarre and unfounded claims of that Perpetrator. I know this person, and I have actually translated his poetry and read at events with this person. As a poet myself, I made it two times to the National Finals in Poetry Slam Japan, and I can say that I have never seen anything odd about the voting there or in KSJ. The one thing I see is a guy who is getting bitter about losing, and is projecting that into some consistently hateful social media comments.
I have watched audiences listen in awe to Yuri Miki’s readings, and her two national championships were richly deserved. I have translated her poetry as well, and have deep respect for the organization she built.
Yuri Miki and the KSJ staff take their roles extremely seriously, and slander like this is disappointing. We’ve learned that it’s best not to capitulate to slander, and so we’ve decided to issue this statement. Honor is important, and so is community. And so is the feeling of safety, camaraderie, and trust that it takes for poets to step on stage and give it their best.
In love, solidarity, and gratitude for everyone reading this – thanks for supporting us in standing up to this person and continuing to do what we do!
Co-founders and managing representatives of KOTOBA Slam Japan,
World Poetry Slam Organization Vice President for Asia
Dr. Jordan A.Y. Smith
Co-founders and managing representatives of KOTOBA Slam Japan
KOTOBA Slam Japan Email: