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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Hailing

This month, we are honored to again feature the fierce Miya Iwataki, a veteran activist, core member of NCRR (Nikkei for Civil Rights & Redress), and writer based in Los Angeles. She presents four poems here—an observation of and hailing to the world around her, from the intimate to the masses. Miya will be featured in our 2nd annual Nikkei Uncovered virtual poetry reading on May 13 (RSVP required), where we will feature “pairs” of writers. She will be paired with poet Amy Uyematsu, who leads a weekly writing class where Miya is a participating poet. We look forward to ...

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Year-ending

As we survey the past year of lockdowns and quarantines that started here in the States by mid-March, 2020, we take stock of a wide spectrum of revelations and experiences over the last twelve months. From new personal practices and experiments in the arena of safer-at-home, to illness and loss, further exposure of inequities and suffering, uprising and reckoning, community unlearning and building - we share the works of two artists who give us a glimmer of their lives through poetics about this last year, oriented to the pandemic. Veteran author Amy Uyematsu returns to the column with just a few ...

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In this moment

While we typically link a theme together from the poems we receive from two or more writers, this month we're featuring two voices whose pieces are situated very personally within their own moments, within their own season. Seattle-based Sansei Carolee Okamoto just began writing in 2017 as a way to process her family history and shares with us a poem linked to the annual Day Of Remembrance commemorating the signing of Executive Order 9066. And at the top here, along with their beautiful artwork, we feature some stream-of-consciousness prose by Rino Kodama. I offered Rino a few prompts (“what ...

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Seize—transformation & renewal

Leaving the end of a long 2020 while entering 2021 with a combination of uncertainty, excitement, determined joy, and perpetual angst, I thought it fitting to have this month’s theme derive its inspiration from the writer and the title of his latest book of poetry, Seize. This month’s feature, Brian Komei Dempster—a Sansei author and educator based in the Bay Area of California—graciously provided us with a handful of beautiful pieces from Seize, based upon my request to think on the ideas of “transformation” and “renewal.” The two we are able to present here are striking ...

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Wonder

To close out 2020 and recognize it as a time of challenge, reckoning and coming together, we are excited to end on a strong and beautiful note with this month's feature. We are happy to host the return to Nikkei Uncovered by Mariko Fujimoto Rooks and, this time, feature Mariko alongside her father, Dr. Curtiss Takada Rooks (while it's his first time in this poetry column, he is certainly no stranger to Discover Nikkei). You'll want to check out essays from both of them on the Discover Nikkei site, but first - heed their collaborative piece, this intergenerational ...

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