Discover Nikkei

https://www.discovernikkei.org/en/journal/2017/7/20/nikkei-uncovered-8/

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

* * * * *

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 of poet Akira Togawa. Heather currently resides in Arizona, where she is completing her second collection of poetry.

Sonnet for My Grandma

The world cannot exist without my grandma.
She lived so many lives before my birth,
yet still she made me feel that being my grandma
was what made life reveal what it was worth.
She was a hand reaching down to hold my hand tightly.
“Yoisho,” she’d say as she lifted me up.
She was the humble, healing heart of the Almighty
that told me I was someone who was loved.
She played so many roles with a plethora
of gifts for each lucky person to find,
but to me, she was just my grandma
who showed me how she cherished that right.
Grandma, another word for love.
Grandma, another word for life.

* This poem is copyrighted by Heather Nagami (2017)

 

* * * * *

Mia Ayumi Malhotra is the author of Isako Isako (forthcoming 2019), winner of the 2017 Alice James Award. She received her MFA from the University of Washington and is a Kundiman and VONA/Voices Fellow. She currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and two daughters.

How the Women Worked
                              Richmond, CA

Rusted jaw, hasp of lower lip
hinged to upper blade.  Grim

beaky lips work through cane,
clip hooks, strip stems clean

of bud eyes.  O the satisfaction of
a perfect head sprung from stem.

Rows of puffy heads, frilled edges
shorn like lace, whorled round anther, style.

Wire shoves through center—
wound round outer whorl

wraps   –tighter, tighter.  Tamped
down, taped   bound, bodies fixed

in place with hard bulbous
eyes.  Straight pins    lace pins

* This poem is copyrighted by Mia Ayumi Malhotra (2017)

 

© 2017 Mia Malhotra; Heather Nagami

communities Heather Nagami literature Mia Ayumi Malhotra poetry poets Traci Akemi Kato-Kiriyama
About this series

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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About the Authors

Mia Ayumi Malhotra is the author of Mothersalt (forthcoming 2025) and Isako Isako, California Book Award finalist and winner of the Nautilus Gold Award, Alice James Award, National Indie Excellence Award, and Maine Literary Award. Her chapbook Notes from the Birth Year won the Bateau Press BOOM Contest, and her work has been recognized internationally with the Hawker Prize for Southeast Asian Poetry and the Singapore Poetry Prize. She is a Kundiman Fellow and founding member of The Ruby SF, a gathering space for women and nonbinary artists. (Profile photo courtesy of Kindred)

Updated June 2023


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 of poet Akira Togawa. Heather currently resides in Arizona, where she is completing her second collection of poetry. Visit her at heathernagami.com.

Updated July 2017


traci kato-kiriyama is a performer, actor, writer, author, educator, and art+community organizer who splits the time and space in her body feeling grounded in gratitude, inspired by audacity, and thoroughly insane—oft times all at once. She’s passionately invested in a number of projects that include Pull Project (PULL: Tales of Obsession); Generations Of War; The (title-ever-evolving) Nikkei Network for Gender and Sexual Positivity; Kizuna; Budokan of LA; and is the Director/Co-Founder of Tuesday Night Project and Co-Curator of its flagship “Tuesday Night Cafe.” She’s working on a second book of writing/poetry attuned to survival, slated for publication next year by Writ Large Press.

Updated August 2013

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