Tazuo Yamaguchi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Tazuo Basho Yamaguchi is a Japanese-American poet and filmmaker,[1] and a two-time national head-to-head haiku champion. He is also master of the English form of haiku and senryū. He has published four books of poetry, six recorded volumes, and produced the National Poetry Slam DVD from 2002 to 2007.


Early life[edit]

He was born to Edward and Betty Yamaguchi in Tokyo, Japan, into a Japanese American family with direct royal descent to the royal shigin poets and samurai class of ancient Japan.[citation needed] Tazuo was named after his master shigin poet grandmother, Tazue Sakaguchi. He was diagnosed with bone cancer at the age of eleven, and was told his left arm would need to be amputated. It was estimated he had only seven more years to live. For treatment, his mother used alternative methods of healing.[citation needed]

Business ventures[edit]

In 1991, Yamaguchi was chosen from 8,000 applicants from around the world to work with George Lucas on several educational entertainment-based projects. During this 18-month residency working for LucasFilm, he discovered the power of mythic storytelling through digital media.

From 1992 to 1995, Yamaguchi ran a San Francisco-based company called Xstudios specialising in emerging digital technologies such as interactive media and computer-based training, and part of the multimedia revolution in the San Francisco Bay Area, where many companies were involved in integrating the traditional arts of storytelling, poetry, illustration, and the fine arts with emerging digital technologies.

Poetry career[edit]

In 1996, Yamaguchi participated in the 15th annual Taos Poetry Circus in Taos, New Mexico. He met Bob Holman, and was introduced to the 1981 Chicago-invented oral tradition of Al Simmons' Original World Heavyweight Poetry Bouts, which years later morphed into Poetry Slam. He then proceeded to take his film gear to Portland, Oregon to the 1996 National Poetry Slam. He filmed most of the event and participated in a haiku competition, a genre of poetry he had practiced since grade school, and became the "1996 National Head to Head Haiku Champion." He also collaborated with Paul Devlin, a national sport videographer and director of critically acclaimed slam poetry documentary SlamNation. In 2001 he produced his first documentary film, about the Asian American spoken word national movement, called Pass it Around (PIA).

In 1997, Yamaguchi formed the first National "poetry slam" team from northern California with Sacramento-based jazz poet Mario Ellis Hill, punk poet Matt Rouse, and bluesman from Grass Valley, John Barbato. He and the team attended the 1997 National Poetry Slam in Connecticut, and filmed a majority of the competition. In 1998, Yamaguchi attended the National Poetry Slam in Austin, Texas to film the competition, documenting finals night perfect tens from Jason Edwards, Jason Carney and Gno, and the spoken-word breakthrough of that year's national champion Reggie Gibson.

Each year from 2001 to 2005, Yamaguchi took the Chico Speaks Out National youth slam team to the Brave New Voices festival. They won the Best of Show National Spirit Award in 2003, performing on the finals stage, and placed third in the nation in 2005.

Since 2001, Yamaguchi has produced live slam poetry DVDs from a number of national events, including the National Poetry Slams in Seattle in 2001, Chicago in 2003, St. Louis in 2004, Albuquerque in 2005, and Austin in 2006 (where he was also a host), and the Individual World Poetry Slams in Greenville, South Carolina in 2004, Worcester, Massachusetts in 2005, and Charlotte, North Carolina in 2006. The 2004 slam in Greenville saw him win his second national Haiku head-to-head championship, which he also filmed.

In 2007, Yamaguchi hosted the first ever Haiku head to head matches at the Haiku Society of America Conference in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He also documented the conference and began production on a film about Haiku in English, entitled Haiku.[2][not in citation given] He hosted the national Head to head Haiku bout in Austin, Texas to the sold out audience of 300 plus at the famous blues club Antone's. He formed the first American Haiku Battle Duo with Adam 'Henzbo' Henze.

In 2008, Yamaguchi worked on two graphic Haiku novels: Orugen and TheAmericanBuddhas. He planned to film the first Women of the World Poetry Slam in March 2008 in Detroit. His film Haiku was due for release in the spring of 2008.[3]


  1. ^ http://www.newsreview.com/chico/content?oid=998510
  2. ^ (26 October 2008). Carlos Colon, The Times (Shreveport), Retrieved December 3, 2010 ("Tazuo Yamaguchi also a poet filmed the documentary at the biennial Haiku North America conference in Winston-Salem N.C. last year")
  3. ^ "Haiku: The Art of the Short Poem". www.brooksbookshaiku.com. Retrieved 2017-01-27.

External links[edit]