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.

Logo design by Alison Skilbred

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Canciones

Este mes, nos complace presentar dos poemas en español de la poetisa peruana Doris Moromisato Miasato. Ella es ecologista, feminista y budista y estos dos poemas son hermosas canciones de homenaje, uno para su padre y otro para el famoso artista japonés Hokusai. De los recuerdos evocados a aquellos imaginados, su poesía se lee como una canción de lamento, inspiración y maravilla. Agradezco llevar conmigo estos poemas mientras comenzamos a dejar el verano por el otoño. También debo agradecer a Norma, la madre de mi pareja, que tiene como lengua materna el español y también es de Perú. Ella es …

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Baachan

This month, we are happy to present two poems from San Francisco-based writer and visual artist, Shizue Siegel. As the founder/director of Write Now!, Shizue amplifies many voices throughout the Bay Area, and here we are honored to share her voice with pieces about her Baachan. Through this writing, we are treated to her history and endeared cultural context, the many layers of compassion from and for a grandmother, the images of Shizue's childhood and the resilience of her Baachan's love and strength...enjoy.

—traci kato-kiriyama

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Shizue Seigel is a Sansei writer and visual artist based …

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Murmurs and Bones

We are honored to present three pieces here from South Dakota State Poet Laureate (2015-2019), Lee Ann Roripaugh. A personal and clanging reflection on the 2011 Tōhoku tsunami and earthquake, these poems are stunning murmurations of memory hitting against bone, of shadows that never quite evaporate, of ghosts alive and well in our presence. Enjoy…

—traci kato-kiriyama

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Lee Ann Roripaugh’s fifth volume of poetry, tsunami vs. the fukushima 50 (Milkweed Editions, 2019), was named a “Best Book of 2019” by the New York Public Library, selected as a poetry Finalist in the 2020 Lambda Literary …

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Specks and Shadows

Portland-based writer and musician Kou Sugita gives us several pieces in this month's column that nudge us into a quiet space of listening—to past echoes that still reverberate; to colors that heed our remembrance; to “the shadow of a shadow of a sound.” Kou’s pieces here are shown with a light of subtle beauty and a depth of exploration that beg for more than one reading.  Enjoy...

—traci kato-kiriyama

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Kou Sugita was born in Japan and relocated to Oregon as a baby. He currently lives in Portland with his partner and two cats. His poetry …

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Remembrance

Upon this 80th anniversary since the signing of E.O. 9066 during WWII that led to the family separation, house arrest, coerced and forced removal, imprisonment, and mass incarceration of Nikkei throughout North America and especially on the West Coast of the U.S., I wanted to reach out to several writers we have featured in past editions of Nikkei Uncovered, to see if they'd like to share a piece related to this month of commemoration and countless Day Of Remembrance programs happening throughout the country.

I'm honored and happy to share here, four magnificent writers—from youth to yelder (young elders), …

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dekasegi Doris Moromisato EO9066 Family family Greer Nakadegawa-Lee Kou Sugita Kurt Yokoyama-Ikeda Lee Ann Roripaugh Noriko Nakada Okinawa Peru poems poet poetry Poetry poets Rey Fukuda Salinas Shizue Seigel Tohoku Tsunami and Earthquake