Vladimir Kos (photo (c) BriFrancis)
Hardly anyone around Sophia University could have guessed that this simple, unassuming old man trudging in and out of Sophia frequently is to speak at the 40th Internation PEN Writers' meet to be held in Bled, Slovenia, towards the end of March 2008. Yes, Fr. Vladimir Kos, a Jesuit priest, ardent missionary, committed social worker, and retired professor is also a well-known poet, having already published more than ten acclaimed books of poems in his mother tongue, Slovenian. Even most of his Jesuit brothers at Sophia are not aware of his status and stature as a poet since he rarely speaks about the accolades he has received and, unfortunately, all his poems are in a language that nobody around here understands--except him!
Professor Alenka Zbogar, Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana, writes about him as follows:
Vladimir Kos, who comes from Murska Sobota, is a professor at Sophia University (Tokyo) and a missionary to a poor suburb of Tokyo. According to Lev Detela, he is one of the most original, qualitative, and productive writers of Slovene migration. We can claim that his diction in poetry is individualistically sharpened: he transforms some forms, and his language is modern. Vladimir Kos is also known as a writer of short stories and a publicist. In Slovenia he has published a book of essays, Eseji z japonskih otokov, and a selection of poems, Cvet, ki je rekel Nagasaki.
The Slovenian Wikipedia has an entry on him with a list of his publications, though with limited biographical data.
In the section of Eastern European Literature, Britannica Book of the Year 1999 identifies Vladimir Kos's Cvet ki je rekel Nagasaki: izbrane pesmi as one of the "two collections of poetry [that] stood out."
It's a pity that no-one nearby can read and appreciate Kos' poems, but the remarks of the Slovenian literati seem to suggest Kos is a significant contributor to Slovenian literature.
Kos is scheduled to leave Japan around Good Friday and return after rubbing shoulders with the academic elite--only to continue his humble work of serving the poor in a Tokyo suburb.