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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Inspiration

Hello Discover Nikkei network! I am beyond thrilled this month to bring this pair of poets to the Nikkei Uncovered poetry column. LA-born and raised, veteran Sansei poet and our inaugural feature for the column back in 2016, Amy Uyematsu returns to us with a beautiful piece about Tanko Bushi (that had me yearning ever more for Obon this summer). And first time with this column, we have National spoken world champ and hip hop artist, G Yamazawa out of Durham, North Carolina with one of my favorite pieces that I hope you all will have the pleasure of someday ...

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What we hold - Part Two

Over the past several years, Vigilant Love (an organization working towards safety and justice of communities impacted by Islamophobia and violence), has hosted a community Iftar bringing together hundreds of Muslim, Japanese American and other LA community members in the spirit of many years of solidarity practice between our communities. This was the first year the program had to be virtual due to Covid-19, but over 170 people still came together for the online breaking of the fast. I had the great honor of working with Vigilant Love’s Solidarity Arts Fellows to collaborate and support their group performances. We ...

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What we hold

Over the past several years, Vigilant Love (an organization working towards safety and justice of communities impacted by Islamophobia and violence), has hosted a community Iftar bringing together hundreds of Muslim, Japanese American, and other Los Angeles community members in the spirit of many years of solidarity practice between our communities. This was the first year the program had to be virtual due to Covid-19, but over 170 people still came together for the online breaking of the fast. I had the great honor of working with Vigilant Love’s Solidarity Arts Fellows to collaborate and support their group performances ...

Read more

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On the inside

Welcome to another special edition of Nikkei Uncovered: a poetry column. Two staff I work closely with at the Japanese American National Museum, public programs extraordinaire Joy Yamaguchi and digital guru Vicky Murakami-Tsuda, allowed me to facilitate a process with them to write poetry grounded in this particular era of Covid-19, lockdowns, missing and finding family, and the overall unknown of now. They took a risk, trusted the process, and ran with it and crafted some really lovely work. We thought it would be fun to try something new, especially since the day this publishes we will also have our ...

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Comfort

This month, we feature California-based Yonsei writer, Kendall Tani, and Arizona-based Sansei writer, Susan Yamamura. Susan’s is a lighthearted parody poem that heralds where we look for some solace during a time of major strife, while Kendall’s first piece featured here, soft bodies, speaks to a relationship with oneself through an intimate practice of shaping earth (and future) by hand. Both reminded me of the ideas of comfort and doing something good for ourselves...like poetry, a vessel through which we might practice introspection, our potential, or a bit of peace....enjoy.

—traci kato-kiriyama

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Kendall Tani is a ...

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