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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Body

How do memories, observations and spirits transfer through our bodies and onto the page? How does a poem reveal where we hold the gift and burden of memory in our body?

Happy August everyone...I’m excited to bring two beautiful young voices into the “Nikkei Uncovered...” fold. This month, we have Yonsei teen, Greer Nakadegawa-Lee hailing from Oakland, and Gosei Lauren Ito, based in San Francisco via Seattle. On the surface, their poems may be read as text tied to identity and family history, but I read these as body poems - there is a kind of tactile, somatic exploration ...

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Theme: (open)

This month I wanted to leave the theme open and invite two young voices who are both incredibly active in community building work here in Los Angeles. Kahlil Kochiyama is a UCSB (University of California, Santa Barbara) student from the South Bay - his piece places us in his relationship with a simple tool of constant use in both nourishment and reflection on roots and culture. Mya Worrell hails from USC (University of Southern Califonia) via Sacramento county - their work here is a fan poem of the popular musician Mitski and an eye into critical, meaningful fandom and the art/artists ...

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Place/Displace

For this month’s column, I thought it would be a good time to feature the other artists in a residency we are sharing this summer in Little Tokyo (the +LAB Artists-in-Residence program, where five of us are here for three months working on various arts and community engagement projects in partnership with Little Tokyo Service Center, Japanese American Cultural & Community Center, Sustainable Little Tokyo, Visual Communications and the Japanese American National Museum). We ended up going through an experiment together. After two weeks of intense orientation around the Residency theme of “cycles of displacement” - what would come, poetically speaking ...

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Holding

This month’s column features two friends I made when I participated in a movement response workshop in Chicago last summer, led by Chisao Hata, featuring our physical reaction to poetics expressed by actor & poet Ken Yoshikawa. With the emphasis on an intergenerational lens through which we shared, I looked forward to being able to featuring both of them someday here. The two hail from Portland, Oregon and continue to work together amongst their own creative projects aplenty. They hold space here, through their words that weave lineage with a search through the mundane for linkage with fathers, ancestry, and ...

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Negotiating Place

Here we have a first for the Nikkei Uncovered poetry column - a collaborative piece between two wondrous young Nikkei, both University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) students and “Shin-Nisei,” 1.5 generation artists. They write this from the place of anticipating their Pilgrimage together to Manzanar this month, alongside their cohort of the Vigilant Love Solidarity Arts Fellowship, which brings together college age Nikkei and Muslim activist/artists. Rino and Sophia, featured here, wrote together with such generosity that comes through in their piece of contemplation and insight. Enjoy.

—traci kato-kiriyama

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Rino Kodama is a 3rd-year student majoring in Art ...

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