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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Remains

From Toronto-based writer, Terry Watada and Bloomington, Indiana-based poet, Hiromi Yoshida, are pieces that can be read as the remains of beings past, the memory of memories, the parts of a person embedded in our psyche or those aspects we wish to keep and uplift. Enjoy...

—traci kato-kiriyama

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Hiromi Yoshida is a first-generation Japanese American poet, with ethnic roots in Japan and Taiwan, and family in Wilbraham, Massachusetts. Now based in Bloomington, Indiana, she has lived extensively in Tokyo and New York City. Her Icarus Burning poetry collection, a finalist selection for the 2019 New Women’s Voices Series Chapbook ...

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What spirits whisper...

This month we are treated to two highly-lauded, accomplished writers and community heroes – Naomi Hirahara and Stan Yogi. Their pieces step out of each writer’s usual practice and into the poetry featured here (and we will surely feature more of their poetry in the future!). When I read through each of the poems we feature for this October issue of Nikkei Uncovered, I swear I can hear whispers of ghosts...a swirl of voices yearning to break free and be present in the place of visibility and homage.  If nothing else, the writer is witness – and the poetry here ...

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Presence

This month, I sought out poems from Los Angeles-based Nancy Uyemura and Amy Honjiyo. I'd been asking Nancy for quite some time now to send me some writing ever since I learned she writes from time to time in the background of her beautiful art making career. Then, I saw both of them onstage for one of the +LAB Artist-in-Residence culminations at the Aratani Theatre in Little Tokyo (supporting my fellow cohorts Marina Fukushima and Isak Immanuel) and was caught in a sort of awe in seeing these two wonderful beings up there, so present in a performance moment ...

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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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