Nikkei Uncovered: a poetry column

Nikkei Uncovered: a poetry column is a space for the Nikkei community to share stories through diverse writings on culture, history, and personal experience. The column will feature a wide variety of poetic form and subject matter with themes that include history, roots, identity; history—past into the present; food as ritual, celebration, and legacy; ritual and assumptions of tradition; place, location, and community; and love.

We’ve invited author, performer, and poet traci kato-kiriyama to curate this monthly poetry column, where we will publish one to two poets on the third Thursday of each month—from senior or young writers new to poetry, to published authors from around the country. We hope to uncover a web of voices linked through myriad differences and connected experience.

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In Community

For this time of Ramadan and in honor of the longstanding, ever-building relationship between the Japanese American and Muslim communities, I thought I would so very gratefully share this space with one of my own pieces alongside poetry from one of my community sisters, traci ishigo—a super wonderful creative organizer, trauma-informed yoga instructor, and inspiring spirit.

We are both steering committee members of VigilantLOVE—a creative coalition fighting against Islamophobia and in love, solidarity, and community with the Muslim community and beyond. The day of release for this month’s column coincides with an Iftar (breaking of the fast ...

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To Spring

In our last moments of spring, we’re making room for both reflection and movement forward. I invited this month’s guest poets to share some poetry on the broad themes of “spring” in terms of reflecting, looking ahead, making strides, leaving, leaping—whether with joy or exasperation or anything in between. We’re excited to honor the end of this transitional season with the rush of wonderful poetry by San Francisco-based professor, Brynn Saito, and Dorchester, MA-based writer and strategist, Tamiko Beyer. Enjoy.

—traci kato-kiriyama

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Brynn Saito is the author of two books of poetry, Power Made Us Swoon ...

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Resistance

Welcome back to this month’s edition of Nikkei Uncovered: a poetry column. As we commemorate the 75th anniversary of the signing of E.O. 9066 and the 50th anniversary of the official Manzanar Pilgrimage, we look to the virtues of and stories behind resistance with pieces from Los Angeles Sansei writer and activist, Miya Iwataki, and Yonsei JA/second generation Okinawan American educator and writer, Ryan Masaaki Yokota (based in Chicago)—from a song stoked by struggle in Heart Mountain to the reasons we marched then and now and again and again…enjoy.

—traci kato-kiriyama

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Miya Iwataki’s life ...

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Speaking

This month, we feature a visual artist based in New York, Mari Nakano, and a poet based in Los Angeles, Kenji Liu. Their writings speak to language—on words nudging a new mother to invention and genderless wordplay. There is a personal stretching and exploratory vibrancy with each of their works. Enjoy!

—traci kato-kiriyama

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Mari Nakano is a Japanese American designer and writer, obsessive organizer, and creative problem-solver. She currently resides in New York, but has a hands-down deep pride for her home state, California. Right now, she is working on two projects—a cookbook dedicated to her late father ...

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Homeland

This month we feature Suma Yagi, an 89-year-old Nisei based in Seattle whose family was sent to Minidoka during World War II, and Toshi Washizu, a filmmaker originally from Japan who is now based in San Francisco. In light of the commemoration of Executive Order 9066 and the 75th anniversary since its signing on February 19, 1942, their poems are somewhat sobering reads in the context of 2017 and all the reasons we look back in order to take stock of the present and look ahead to the kind of “homeland” we wish to create for our communities. The theme ...

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