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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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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Roots and Branches

Happy spring everyone! This month, we’re excited to feature two poets who both happen to be based in Japan. Micah Tasaka, a queer, genderfluid, mixed race Yonsei artist originally from the Inland Empire now based in Fukui prefecture; and Yoshika Wason, a second generation, mixed race artist who hails from Aomori, Japan via Massachusetts and Connecticut. Their pieces here harken back and forth from past circumstance to present choice, in reflection of the way our memories, our native tongues, our very existence, was and continues to be shaped. Enjoy.

—traci kato-kiriyama

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Yoshika Wason is a teacher, poet, and storyteller ...

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Circles, Cycles, Commemoration

This month, as we commemorate EO 9066, we thought it fitting to honor one of our longest standing and veteran poets, Mitsuye Yamada. At 95 years of age, she has been published for several decades and is still going. Here, she shares with us some previous work as well as a new piece from her forthcoming book, FULL CIRCLE. Enjoy the poetic fire of the great Mitsuye Yamada...

—traci kato-kiriyama

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Mitsuye Yamada was born in Kyushu, Japan in 1923. She grew up in Seattle, Washington.

In 1942, when Mitsuye was 17, her family was among 120,000 persons of Japanese ...

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Japanese American Women Speak

For this month’s column, opening us into a whole new year, I’m so happy to feature healer and artist kyoko nakamaru and filmmaker Tani Ikeda, who together are co-founders of JAWS — Japanese American Women Speak. They are both based in Los Angeles, California (Kyoko via Wisconsin and Iowa, and Tani via Seattle). Both selections here are impassioned pieces by two fierce Nikkei who call on us to listen, respond and heal with the world around us.

—traci kato-kiriyama

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Kyoko Nakamaru is an interdisciplinary artist, storyteller, writer, spiritual counselor, and hobby musician who uses her relationship with ancestors and ...

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