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https://www.discovernikkei.org/en/interviews/clips/1689/

Advice to writers

When you have an idea in your mind, and you have to – and you want to find the right word, and in poetry – this is very important – you know, you – when you’re writing prose, it’s not as important – but when you’re writing poetry, every single word has to mean something. And so it sharpens your vision, I think, in many ways.

You should continue writing, and if people tell you that it’s wrong, it’s never wrong. Anything that you write is right. And if you think that it’s – I think that you should not be – you should not cross things out because people do not like it, or that they don’t approve of it, or they don’t think that it’s the right thing to say. I think you have to really be honest with the way that you feel inside. So if you keep a journal, and write what you are experiencing, and what you are feeling, and try to get that down in particular words, and if you are very honest with yourself, and write it down as honestly as you know how, I think that’s the best kind of advice that I can give to a writer.


authors literature poetry poets writing

Date: August 7, 2018

Location: California, US

Interviewer: Sharon Yamato

Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum

Interviewee Bio

Mitsuye Yamada was born in 1923 while her mother was visiting family in Japan. She grew up in Seattle, Washington until World War II when they were sent to Minidoka, Idaho. A Quaker volunteer helped her to leave camp by finding her a job in Cincinnati, Ohio. Yamada attended the University of Cincinnati and earned a BA from New York University and an MA from the University of Chicago.

She was able to become a naturalized U.S. citizen following passage of the McCarran-Walter Immigration Act and received her citizenship in 1955.

She was a constant writer from the time she was young, and her first book of poetry taken from her writings in Minidoka, Camp Notes and Other Poems, was published in 1976. She started teaching and published more books after a health scare when she was 39 years old.

She helped to start a human rights group in Irvine, California that eventually led to her becoming elected to the Amnesty International Board of Directors in the 1980s and has been active in many human rights causes, especially known for her activism for woman's rights. (August 2018)

Doris Moromisato
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Doris Moromisato

Feminist, ecologist, Buddhist… activist (Spanish)

(b. 1962) Peruvian Poet, Okinawan descendant

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Doris Moromisato
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Doris Moromisato

The poet is going to hibernate (Spanish)

(b. 1962) Peruvian Poet, Okinawan descendant

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Evelyn Yoshimura
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Evelyn Yoshimura

Prisoners and Poetry

Community Activist

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