The Poem of Wind and Trees: back to the origins of BL
Recently I started reading Kaze to Ki no Uta (風と木の詩, “The Poem of Wind and Trees”), a manga published in 1976 by Keiko Takemiya.
This series was published in a magazine for girls, but it’s actually one of the first Shonen-ai (now called BL – Boys Love) mangas ever created. It was incredibly innovating for its time, because of the way it combined romantic and sexual relationships in a dramatic, coming of age story.
If you write MM fiction, it can be an interesting read. Scroll to see why!
A great character building
The protagonists, Serge and Gilbert, are students at a boarding school in Provence in the late 19th century. The two are the opposite of one another: Serge has always lived by the rules, while Gilbert is apparently free and ruthless. While reading we spend a lot of time discovering their past and traumas – especially Gilbert’s- and we learn everything about these characters: fears, pain, wishes.
This story is raw and shameless, and it’s mostly about looking for a way to prove your identity outside the standard schemes of society. Serge and Gilbert are haunted by restrictions and the consequences of past traumas, and life keeps tormenting them all the time.
Something you don’t see every day
The Boys Love stories we read today (as well as MM romance books) are usually light-hearted love stories, with some amazing and beautifully developed exceptions, but I feel like the earliest works in this genre showed the true pain of struggling for acceptance which, unfortunately, is still an issue even now.
I don’t want to say that the light-hearted romance stories aren’t worth reading, and I actually enjoy them very much, but I also like stories that dive deeper into the characters, even when they are a little controversial and twisted.
A must-read for the fans of the genre
The Poem of Wind and Trees has been a good read, and I totally recommend it to the fans of this genre. If you are a MM writer, you might have something to learn from the author’s storytelling and character development.
However, be ready for some heavy themes such as racism, homophobia, pedophilia, rape, and drug abuse.
Check out my “Inspiration” category posts for other reading suggestions!