On Wednesday, Feb. 9, Pilgrim School is hosting Lawrence Matsuda as a special guest and visiting writer. He was born in the Minidoka, Idaho, War Relocation Center during World War II and his poetry documents the emotional damage the internment wreaked on him and his family, and by extension the more than 120,000 other Japanese Americans who were evacuated to the camps following the bombing at Pearl Harbor.
His poems appear in the Poets Against the War website, The Raven Chronicles, and the International Examiner newspaper.
“I carry my own fence,” he writes in his poem “War on Terror – Border Crossing.” The image alludes to the ongoing effect of his family’s internment at Minidoka. The Japanese term “gaman” mandates that an individual suffer in silence. “When I read my poems at the 2010 [Minidoka] Pilgrimage, many of the Japanese in the audience were crying,” Matsuda said. “One told me she never cried for Minidoka for over 60 years and when she heard the poems — there was an outpouring of sadness. Another told me that, after the first four poems, she wanted me to stop because she felt like it was a punch in the gut.”
Matsuda will discuss his experiences and read from his book of poetry at 1:25 p.m. in the Barnum Room of Pilgrim School, 540 S. Commonwealth Ave., Los Angeles. All are invited to attend the afternoon session. For information, call (213) 385-7351 or visit pilgrim-school.org.