The UCLA Asian American Studies Center’s Dr. Sanbo and Kazuko Sakaguchi Endowment presents Janice Mirikitani reading from and signing “Out of the Dust: New and Selected Poems” on Thursday, Jan. 15, at 12 p.m. at Public Affairs Building 4240 on the UCLA campus.
“Out of the Dust” is the latest collection of work by UCLA alum, activist, leader, poet and editor Mirikitani. Drawing from her background as a Sansei and written in response to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the poems seek to explicate the connections of our humanity to the reactionary profiling of people of Middle Eastern descent and different ethnicities, comparing these choices to the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.
Her poems cover rape, incest, the continued struggle for justice and economic equality, and the poet’s experiences throughout her 50-year career at Glide Foundation and Church in San Francisco. Though constructed from a depth of experiences with struggle, these poems also erupt in celebration of marriage, daughters, and the discovery of self through diversity.
“Out of the Dust” is part of the Center Press and University of Hawaii’s joint series, “Intersections: Asian and Pacific American Transcultural Studies.” Books will be available for purchase.
Co-sponsored by the Asian American Studies Department and the Department of English.
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Mirikitani is the founding president of the Glide Foundation, where she and her husband, Rev. Cecil Williams, have achieved worldwide recognition for empowering San Francisco’s poor and marginalized communities to make meaningful changes in their lives to break the cycle of poverty and dependence. Over 43 years, they built 87 comprehensive programs that provide education, recovery support, primary and mental health care, job training, housing and human services. Mirikitani’s passion has been to create programs for women and families as they struggle with issues of substance abuse, rape, incest, domestic violence, the AIDS crisis, single parenting, childcare, health/wellness, education, and jobs development.
Mirikitani is San Francisco ’s second poet laureate, appointed in 2000. She has authored four other books of poetry — “Awake in the River,” “Shedding Silence,” “We, the Dangerous,” and “Love Works” — and is the editor of nine landmark anthologies that provide platforms for writers of color, women, youth and children. She has also worked in civil rights causes for various multiethnic communities, including the campaign for redress for Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II. She and her family were incarcerated in the Rohwer concentration camp in Arkansas.
Mirikitani had served as a member of the San Francisco Arts Commission and is the recipient of over 40 awards and honors, including the Governor and First Lady’s Conference on Women and Families’ Minerva Award, San Francisco State University’s Distinguished Alumni Award, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce’s Lifetime Achievement Ebbie Award, the prestigious American Book Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature, and the UC San Francisco Chancellor’s Medal of Honor Award.
In addition to graduating from UCLA, Mirikitani has received two honorary doctorate degrees and received a teaching credential from UC Berkeley.