Five Events for the 2024 Day of Remembrance

Who knew when we started the Day of Remembrance that I’d still be talking about it 45 years later. Nevertheless, here we are, hitting the road for five DOR events in 2024. For further updates as the month progresses, check the Events page.

SEATTLE, WA
Monday, February 12, 2024, 6:00-8:00 pm
UW Nikkei Student Union Day of Remembrance program
HUB Lyceum

UW graphicSpeaking on “Resistance, Redress, and the Day of Remembrance,” I will link the camp resistance in We Hereby Refuse to the constitutional stand for redress brought forward by the first Day of Remembrance, for the University of Washington Nikkei Student Union. Register here.

PORTLAND, OR
Saturday, February 17, 2024, 2:00-4:00 pm
“Threads of Remembrance: 45 Years of Activism, Community, and Reparations”
Lincoln Hall, 1620 SW Park Ave.

Portland DORFor the Portland Day of Remembrance, I’ll join Peggy Nagae and Chisao Hata on a panel recalling our work with the local community to create the very first DOR in Portland 45 years ago, on February 17, 1979, on a panel moderated by Mira Shimabukuro. Sponsored by Portland JACL and the Japanese American Museum of Oregon. Free registration here.

ORANGE, CA
Monday, February 19, 2024, 1:00-2:15 pm
Resisters: Japanese American Incarceration Stories and Literature
Chapman University, Argyros Forum, Room 209C

For Chapman University’s Day of Remembrance I’ll be speaking to students about our graphic novel We Hereby Refuse, in support of Prof. Stephanie Takaragawa’s brilliant online exhibit, “Images and Imaginings of Internment: Comics and Illustrations of Wartime Incarceration.” I’ll then engage in conversation with Prof. Rei Magosaki and Audrey Fong of The Soapberry Review about the forthcoming Penguin anthology of The Literature of Japanese American Incarceration.

PHILADELPHIA, PA
Wednesday, February 21, 2024, 6:30 pm
Philadelphia Day of Remembrance
University of Pennsylvania
Irvine Auditorium – Amado Recital Hall

Philadelphia DORSpeaking on “Resistance, Redress, and the Day of Remembrance,” I will link the camp resistance in We Hereby Refuse to the constitutional stand for redress brought forward by the first Day of Remembrance, to Rob Buscher’s class on “Asian American Activism” and the community. Sponsored by the UPenn Asian American Across the Disciplines Series and Philadelphia JACL. Free registration here.

SAN FRANCISCO and SAN JOSE, CA
Saturday and Sunday, February 24-25, 2024, 5:45 pm
The Akutsu Family Resists” at
Films of Remembrance film festival
AMC Kabuki 8 and San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin

Film festival debut of new animation by the Seattle Channel based on the Jim Akutsu story in We Hereby Refuse. The film will be paired with Sharon Yamato’s revelatory new film on attorney Wayne Collins. Join us for a post-screening discussion on both days. Sponsored by the Nichi Bei Foundation. Facebook Event here. See the trailer for the “Films of Resistance” program below and get tickets here.

New animation puts drawings of “We Hereby Refuse” into motion

book coverAfter two years in the making, congratulations to Shannon Gee and her team at the Seattle Channel for producing this animation of the Jim Akutsu story from We Hereby Refuse.

The 14-minute video makes its cable-tv debut tonight at 7:00 pm as part of their award-winning “Community Stories” series. The animation very cleverly adds motion to the drawings of Ross Ishikawa in capturing just the first part of the Akutsu story from the arrest of his father up to the family’s arrival at the Puyallup Assembly Center, with a full rundown of the JACL collaboration that Jim detested.
Continue reading New animation puts drawings of “We Hereby Refuse” into motion

Project to translate and republish the literary magazines of Tule Lake

Tule Lake is the final frontier for the study of Japanese American incarceration. After 80 years, the Segregation Center at Tule Lake remains the least-understood and most-avoided subject in polite Japanese American society. And the fiction and poetry written by the Issei and Kibei Nisei during this tumultuous period and published in the camp’s literary magazines has languished unread by those who can’t read Japanese. A new project launched last month at the University of California at Berkeley promises to change that. Continue reading Project to translate and republish the literary magazines of Tule Lake

Evoking the Postwar Seattle Chinatown of John Okada

two buildings
A slide from the presentation of Dr. Marie Rose Wong

THERE ARE STORES on King Street, which is one block to the south of Jackson Street. Over the stores are hotels housed in ugly structures of brick more black than red with age and neglect. Continue reading Evoking the Postwar Seattle Chinatown of John Okada

From Page to Stage: Adapting NO-NO BOY for Today’s Theater

Photo: Elaine Ikoma Ko

Many thanks to Seattle Rep Literary Manager and Dramaturg Paul Adolphsen for so expertly leading the October 24 panel on our work to adapt John Okada’s No-No Boy for the theater. This was the second in the series of panels I’ve been curating for the Seattle Public Library on the occasion of the John Okada Centennial.
Continue reading From Page to Stage: Adapting NO-NO BOY for Today’s Theater

Full house for kickoff of the John Okada Centennial

John Okada never received the recognition he deserved in his lifetime. Since then, his work has earned him a place in world literature. I’d like to think Okada would have been pleased to see the turnout in his hometown on the occasion of his 100th birthday and the kickoff of the John Okada Centennial celebration.

audience Continue reading Full house for kickoff of the John Okada Centennial

New adaptation of “NO-NO BOY” workshopped at Seattle Rep

binderOne-hundred years ago today, John Okada was born in Seattle. It’s also a day on which I can finally reveal that I’m developing the script for a new theater adaption of Okada’s landmark novel, No-No Boy.

Desdemona Chiang
Noted stage directgor Desdemona Chiang

For four days this week I’ve had the privilege of working with the Seattle Rep, our flagship regional theater, under the auspices of “The Other Season,” its New Plays series. The Rep hired the brilliant theater director Desdemona Chiang to work with me and a talented cast of professional Equity actors. Under union rules we were not allowed to advertise or talk about the workshop until it was over. Continue reading New adaptation of “NO-NO BOY” workshopped at Seattle Rep

The Seattle Public Library celebrates the John Okada Centennial

John Okada © Yoshito Okada familyNovelist John Okada would have been 100 years old had he lived to September 22, 2023. To celebrate his legacy and honor his work in writing the great Japanese American novel, The Seattle Public Library has engaged me to curate a series of programs around the John Okada Centennial.
Continue reading The Seattle Public Library celebrates the John Okada Centennial

Coming May 2024: The Literature of Japanese American Incarceration

Floyd Cheung and I are pleased to announce that our new anthology, The Literature of Japanese American Incarceration, will be published as a Penguin Classic on May 14, 2024. You can now pre-order the book from your neighborhood independent bookstore, or from one of these online sellers.

cover of Penguin anthology

I am grateful to Floyd for inviting me on this journey six years ago. We kicked it around and settled on the narrative arc to frame the 68 selections in the volume.  While we wait for the chance for you to see it, please add it to your Goodreads queue and online wish lists. We will be arranging local book events next spring and summer. In the meantime, we’ve just revised the online metadata to better describe its content:

The Literature of Japanese American Incarceration – Paperback – May 14, 2024

The collective voice of Japanese Americans defined by a specific moment in time: the four years of World War II during which the US government expelled resident aliens and its own citizens from their homes and imprisoned 125,000 of them in American concentration camps, based solely upon the race they shared with a wartime enemy.

This anthology presents a new vision that recovers and reframes the literature produced by the people targeted by the actions of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Congress to deny Americans of Japanese ancestry any individual hearings or other due process after the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor. From nearly seventy selections of fiction, poetry, essays, memoirs, and letters emerges a shared story of the struggle to retain personal integrity in the face of increasing dehumanization – all anchored by the key government documents that incite the action.

The selections favor the pointed over the poignant, and the unknown over the familiar, with several new translations among previously unseen works that have been long overlooked on the shelf, buried in the archives, or languished unread in the Japanese language. The writings are presented chronologically so that readers can trace the continuum of events as the incarcerees experienced it.

The contributors span incarcerees, their children born in or soon after the camps, and their descendants who reflect on the long-term consequences of mass incarceration for themselves and the nation. Many of the voices are those of protest. Some are those of accommodation. All are authentic. Together they form an epic narrative with a singular vision of America’s past, one with disturbing resonances with the American present.

In Memoriam: Martha Nakagawa, resistance storyteller

This is one of the hardest things I’ve had to contemplate writing. These In Memoriam posts have mostly been devoted to celebrating the lives and marking the passage of Nisei wartime resisters and those whose lives they’ve touched. I know I’m not alone in still being in a state of shock at having to memorialize the life of someone so young and vital as Martha Nakagawa of Los Angeles.
Continue reading In Memoriam: Martha Nakagawa, resistance storyteller

The history and literature of Japanese American resistance to wartime incarceration