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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Bite

As we enter the final quarter of 2017, I didn't want to “ease” into fall but rather, take a bite out of it. Maybe there’s something feisty in the air with all the ash and soot and unrest all around us. In any case, this isn’t a time for languor but it could be a time for something a little outside the box. These two pieces—from El Cerrito-based poet Kazumi Chin and writer Lawrence Matsuda, who was born in the Minidoka, Idaho concentration camp during WWII—have their own bite to offer as we step forward ...

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Mothers—affection, lost & found

This month, we take a somewhat different turn, in presenting some prose from longtime community organizer and LA-native, Kathy Nishimoto Masaoka, and a piece meant for the spoken word stage from Hawai‘i-born/Torrance-raised educator, Kurt Yokoyama-Ikeda. They both sent in pieces about their mothers and I found a yearning, discovery, and ode to their affection, however uniquely expressed over time. The pieces left me hoping they will continue to write and explore even more even about their mothers and how we find and express affection…enjoy.

—traci kato-kiriyama

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Kathy Nishimoto Masaoka was born and raised in multicultural Boyle Heights ...

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Encircle, In Dance

For this month’s Nikkei Uncovered, we wave goodbye to the Obon season with special reflections from a family of activist/artists and a local legend & community organizer. Maiya, Jenni, and Tony Kuida-Osumi share with us poems that tie the dance we do in commemoration of ancestors at Obon, with homage in action to community, to our shared struggle, to Los Angeles. Evelyn Yoshimura brings us a brief essay reflecting on the letting go and the images that spring forth through the dance itself. Hopefully these words will not only resonate with the images that come to your mind during ...

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Homage

Welcome to poetic homage with this month’s Nikkei Uncovered column. From Tucson, Arizona-based, Heather Nagami, and San Francisco Bay Area-based, Mia Ayumi Malhotra, we have the pleasure of hearing from two Kundiman fellow authors, who speak of the women who hold us, shape our contexts, and grip at the sensibility of our memories. Enjoy.

—traci kato-kiriyama

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Heather Nagami is the author of Hostile (Chax Press). A Kundiman fellow, her poems have recently appeared in Hawai‘i Review, The Collagist, Print-Oriented Bastards, and The Sonoran Desert: A Literary Field Guide. Born and raised in Southern California, Heather is the grandniece ...

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In Community

For this time of Ramadan and in honor of the longstanding, ever-building relationship between the Japanese American and Muslim communities, I thought I would so very gratefully share this space with one of my own pieces alongside poetry from one of my community sisters, traci ishigo—a super wonderful creative organizer, trauma-informed yoga instructor, and inspiring spirit.

We are both steering committee members of VigilantLOVE—a creative coalition fighting against Islamophobia and in love, solidarity, and community with the Muslim community and beyond. The day of release for this month’s column coincides with an Iftar (breaking of the fast ...

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