> About 『命 INOCHI』
Life itself was the inspiration for this compilation of previously unpublished poems that I self-published in the summer of 1999 as my first book. Inochi, the Japanese word for “Life”, was a most precious thing never to be taken for granted — so I believed after witnessing firsthand the tragic loss of life and devastation wrought by the Hanshin earthquake in western Japan, where I was living in 1995 with my new and growing family. The experience of us living through the hell of that natural disaster deeply affected me.
The complete INOCHI edition is being published here on the Web for the first time since then. It consists of a variety of poems written over the course of several years, unified under the simple theme of Life. INOCHI was meant to tell the universal story of life from birth to death, and the common threads that bind us all, whoever and wherever in the world we may be.
I made up my mind from the start that this book was not going to be a profit-making venture — that it was going to be published from the heart and for healing, not for monetary profit. And I’ve stayed true to that promise: All proceeds from the sale of this book over the years were donated to organizations that uplift humanity and protect nature in some way. Not a single yen has been kept by me.
As a debut work of poetry, INOCHI was also a personal affirmation of sorts — my own conscious choosing of life over death, living over dying, surviving over surrendering. The book was, and still is, a soul-embrace of The Great Tree of Life and a long-overdue goodbye to The Dead Zone, a place I occupied both physically and mentally for the first 20 years or so of my existence.
All in all, the experience of writing and putting together INOCHI for public sharing was, to me, the very essence of rebirth and renewal that Life offers to each one of us.
• The Cover Story:
The front cover of INOCHI often elicited as strong an impression from people seeing it for the first time as did the book’s actual contents. And that is exactly the reaction I was going for when I designed the front cover late one night in Minoo, Osaka.
The cover of INOCHI is simple yet complex, and full of symbolism. The four colors on the cover — black, red, yellow white — symbolize the four sacred colors, four sacred directions and four races of people in traditional Native American spirituality. The yellow background also symbolizes hope, optimism, warmth and the rising sun of a new day; it represents being here in Asia as well. The thick, black writing at the very bottom symbolizes to me the root or foundation of everything: in other words, Africa.
The circle in the center symbolizes the sacred circle of life found throughout the world’s cultures, and the deep-red inochi character within it represents the blood that is shared by all human beings. And on a lighter note, the red circle and character within it also stand for the personal seals (hanko or inkan) that are widely used in Japan to sign official documents in place of a signature. And so, Life itself became my personal seal. For some years afterward, I even had this very same red circular character printed up on my business cards in Japan as well.
I had originally wanted the cover of my first published book to be dynamic and bold, simple yet substantive, and at first glance, to both catch and repel the reader’s eye. And so it came to be with this design.
Click on the book above to read the complete version of INOCHI in a separate window.
INOCHI © 1999 Brian Covert