SAN FRANCISCO — A reading celebrating Mitsuye Yamada’s 100th birthday will be held online Saturday, Sept. 23, from 2 to 3:30 p.m.
San Francisco State University’s Poetry Center is honored to present a tribute to the remarkable life and work of an acclaimed poet, essayist, educator, feminist, and human rights activist. This event is hosted by poets Brynn Saito and Brandon Shimoda and organized with the assistance of Hedi Yamada Mouchard.
Participants to be announced. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mitsuye May Yamada was born on July 5, 1923 in Fukuoka and grew up in Seattle. In 1942, when she was 17, her family was among over 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry who were forcibly removed from their homes and sent to concentration camps for the duration of the war.
She later attended the University of Cincinnati and earned a BA from New York University and an MA from the University of Chicago. She received an honorary doctorate from Simmons College in Boston in 2009.
Yamada was one of the first and most vocal Asian American women writers who wrote about the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans. She is the author of “Camp Notes and Other Poems” (1976) and “Desert Run: Poems and Stories” (1988), both of which are available in the combined volume “Camp Notes and Other Writings” (1998).
At the age of 96, she released her latest work, “Full Circle: New and Selected Poems” (UC Santa Barbara Department of Asian American Studies, 2019).
With a lifelong commitment to fighting for human rights, Yamada began working with a local chapter of Amnesty International and was eventually elected to serve on the Amnesty International USA National Board of Directors, where she served two terms.
Yamada and fellow Nellie Wong were featured in the 1981 documentary “Mitsuye and Nellie: Two Asian American Woman Poets” by the Academy Award-winning filmmakers Light-Saraf Films. She was the recipient of a MELUS award, a Vesta Award from the Los Angeles Women’s Building, and a Jesse Bernard Wise Women Award from the Center for Women’s Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. She was a Women’s Day USA Honoree, has been designated a KCET Local Hero, and was a Yaddo Fellow in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Visit her website at www.mitsuyeyamada.com.
Brynn Saito’s third book of poems, “Under a Future Sky,” was published in August by Red Hen Press. She is a recipient of the Benjamin Saltman Award and a finalist for the Northern California Book Award, and her work has appeared in The New York Times and American Poetry Review. Saito teaches in the MFA program at CSU Fresno.
Brandon Shimoda is the author of several books of poetry and prose, most recently “Hydra Medusa” (Nightboat Books, 2023) and “The Grave on the Wall” (City Lights, 2019), which received the PEN Open Book Award. With Saito, he is co-editing an anthology of poetry written by descendants of the Japanese American and Japanese Canadian incarceration, forthcoming in 2025 from Haymarket Books.