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Poet Yamada to Launch New Book with Program Featuring Intergenerational JA Writers

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Renowned poet Mitsuye Yamada will read from her new book, “Full Circle: New and Selected Poems,” in a special program featuring the launch of this landmark work from the 96-year-old writer, essayist, educator, and activist on Saturday, Aug. 24, at 2 p.m. at the Japanese American National Museum, 100 N. Central Ave. in Little Tokyo.

Mitsuye Yamada

Yamada will be joined by Japanese American writers from different generations: Miya Iwataki, Maiya Kuida-Osumi, Brynn Saito, Diana Tsuchida, and Amy Uyematsu.

UC Santa Barbara Asian American Studies Professor Diane Fujino will provide an overview of Yamada’s life and her contributions to Asian American literature.

Yamada’s book “Camp Notes and Other Poems,” a seminal work in Asian American literature, was first published in 1976, chronicling her incarceration at the Minidoka camp in Idaho, where many of the poems originated. It was followed by “Desert Run: Poems and Other Stories,” featuring more writings based on her incarceration experience. Her writings, republished in 1998 as “Camp Notes and Other Writings,” also focus on her bicultural heritage as well as women’s and human rights issues.

A champion of human rights as a former board member of Amnesty International, USA, she is also well known as an educator, having taught English and creative writing at UC Irvine and Cypress College. She founded MultiCultural Women Writers of Orange County and co-edited “Sowing Ti Leaves: Writings by MultiCultural Women,” a 1990 anthology of the group’s work.

“Full Circle” represents the culmination of her career at the forefront of Japanese American literature and activism.

In tribute to her legacy, writers representing four generations will be included in the program. Poet Amy Uyematsu has three published collections of her work, “30 Miles from J-Town,” “Nights of Fire, Nights of Rain,” and “Stone Bow Prayer”; Brynn Saito is an assistant professor at Fresno State and author of two books of poetry, “Power Made Us Swoon” and “The Palace of Contemplating Departure”; Miya Iwataki is a poet/writer and host of the “East Wind” radio show.

Also participating will be Diana Emiko Tsuchida, an independent writer and creator of Tessaku, an oral history project about the Japanese American incarceration, and Maiya Kuida-Osumi, a 14-year-old poet, basketball player, taiko drummer, and veteran of the Tuesday Night Cafe stage.

The 1981 documentary “Mitsuye and Nellie: Asian American Poetsm” which also features Nellie Wong, will be shown before and after the program, and Yamada will be on hand to sign books following the presentation.

Music will be provided by Kyoko Takenaka (Jinjabrew), a Shin Nikkei queer multi-media artist, singer-songwriter, filmmaker, and actor based in Los Angeles. The event will be emceed by curator kyoko nakamaru a Yonsei writer, artist and minister.

The program will be held in JANM’s Tateuchi Democracy Forum of the Japanese American National Museum. Admission is free with museum membership or included with general museum admission. RSVPs are encouraged at www.janm.org as space is limited. An additional meet-and-greet for museum members will be held prior to the program from 1 to 2 p.m. For more information, email [email protected]

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