L.A. poet Amy Uyematsu has just published her sixth collection, “That Blue Trickster Time” (What Books Press).
Her poems have appeared in numerous literary magazines, online journals, anthologies, and newspapers, including The Rafu Shimpo. Her first book, “30 Miles from J-Town,” received the 1992 Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize. In 2012 she was recognized by the Friends of the Little Tokyo Branch Library for her writing contributions to the Japanese American community.
Uyematsu will be a featured poet at this year’s Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Scheduled to read on April 23 at noon, this will be her fourth appearance at the annual book festival.
In “That Blue Trickster Time,” the publisher states, “Amy Uyematsu addresses her life as an older Japanese American woman – rooted in the ancestral wisdom of goddess and stones, her poems confront contemporary issues of racism, pandemic uncertainty and political justice.”
While her poems cover a broad range of topics, Asian American themes are present throughout all her books. In her latest collection, she includes a 36-part poem on Manzanar, called “36 Views of Manzanar,” inspired by Hokusai’s “36 Views of Mt. Fuji.” She also writes about the current upsurge in anti-Asian violence during this ongoing global pandemic.
A Sansei, Uyematsu grew up in Sierra Madre and majored in math at UCLA, where she became active in Asian American studies and as a senior, penned an essay titled “The Emergence of Yellow Power in America.”
In 1969 she was on the first staff of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center, where she served as publications coordinator. Along with Franklin Odo, Eddie Wong, and Buck Wong, Uyematsu (aka Amy Tachiki) co-edited the widely used college anthology “Roots: An Asian American Reader.”
Uyematsu was a high school math teacher for the L.A. Unified School District for 32 years. In the 1980s she began publishing and performing her poetry. She’s been a member of several women’s writing collectives – PAAWWW (Pacific Asian American Women Writers West), Cantaluz, the Noodlettes, and WoWW (Women Word Warriors). From 2015-2020, Uyematsu taught a creative writing class for the Little Tokyo Service Center.