Book Launch: Reverberations from Fukushima: 50 Japanese Poets Speak Out

Join anthology editor Leah Stenson and renowned shakuhachi player Larry Tyrrell for a powerful evening of bilingual poetry and heartfelt music to celebrate the launch of Reverberations from Fukushima, a timely cross-cultural and socially relevant new anthology of contemporary Japanese poetry that brings the depth and scope of the human tragedy into clear focus.

Guest readers include Oregon Poet Laureate Peter Sears and native speaker Kayoko Gille who will read in Japanese. A photo presentation of Fukushima will precede the launch and light Japanese snacks will be served.

Friday, May 30 at 7pm
TaborSpace, 5441 SE Belmont Street, Portland, OR 97215
Free and open to the public

This moving anthology offers readers a deeper understanding of the Fukushima nuclear disaster from a humanistic rather than technological or political perspective while at the same time enhancing appreciation of contemporary Japanese poetry. These poems provide American readers with an opportunity to connect heart-to-heart with the Japanese, who have suffered both the horror of nuclear weapons and the tragedy of a nuclear accident.

Leah Stenson is an established poet, practicing Buddhist, and member of the Interfaith Council of Greater Portland, who spent 16 years teaching at university in Japan. She hosts the Studio Series, a popular venue for established poets in the Pacific Northwest. For more information please visit

Larry Tyrrell is the foremost player and teacher of shakuhachi in the Pacific Northwest. Trained in Japan, he is a composer, recording artist and performer who delights in sharing the serene and lyrical music of the shakuhachi. For more information please visit

Reverberations from Fukushima also includes the original Japanese text of the 50 poems that appear in translation as well as remarks by editors Stenson and Sarukawa Aroldi, essays by nuclear activist David Krieger and nuclear policy expert Francesca Giovannini, and commentary by esteemed Japanese poets Jotaro Wakamatsu and Hisao Suzuki.

Title: Reverberations from Fukushima: 50 Japanese Poets Speak Out
Languages: English & Japanese
Editors: Leah Stenson and Asao Sarukawa Aroldi
ISBN: 978-1-62901-065-6
Publisher: Inkwater Press
Pub Date: March 2014
Price: $14.95 Kindle & ePub: $3.99
Pages: 192
Availability: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s Books,
Distribution: Ingram, Baker & Taylor

Sometimes a poet can grasp the human significance of a technological failure better than a scientist. We are fortunate to have these poetic voices from Japan collected here. May we hear them and, more importantly, may we heed them.

—JOHN PEARSON, MD, Immediate Past President,
Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility

Essay and New Book by Matthew Salesses

One of our Anthology authors, Matthew Salesses, reflects upon the moment he realized he was not white and explores the ways in which racism against Asian Americans is nearly invisible in our culture. In this excellent and poignant essay, he writes, “The truth is, racism toward Asians is treated differently in America than racism toward other ethnic groups. This is a truth all Asian Americans know. While the same racist may hold back terms he sees as off-limits toward other minorities, he will often not hesitate to call an Asian person a chink, as Jeremy Lin was referred to, or talk about that Asian person as if he must know karate, or call him Bruce Lee, or consider him weak or effeminate, or so on. …

… I had grown up constantly wavering between denying and suspecting that my skin color was behind the fights picked with me, the insults, the casual distance kept up even between myself and some of my closest friends. Sometimes—in retrospect: oftentimes—these incidents were obviously rooted in race. I have been called “chink” and “flat face” and “monkey” many many times. And it is the context of these words that make a child grow uncomfortable with who he is, that instill a deep fear in him. (As a side note: I am married now to a Korean woman who grew up in Korea, and when I mentioned the “flat face” slur to her, she said, “but your face is flat.” Yet how different was this from the leering way it was said to me as a child, something she hadn’t felt as a Korean in Korea.) I was afraid, back then, of myself, as if there were a little Asian person living within me that was corrupting my being, taking me away from the white person I thought I was.

There are still incidents from those days that I cannot get out of my mind. … “

See more at:

Matthew has come out with a new book. I hope you will check it out:

May is Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Asian American Youth Leadership Conference is a conference to inspire Asian American high school students to take action, develop leadership qualities for their careers and communities, and to learn cultural pride
When: Friday, May 15 (all day)
Where: Concordia University, 2811 NE Holman St, Portland, OR 97211
Simon Tam will present the keynote at Business for Culture and Arts on May 28. This second Skills Day event at NW Natural will provide opportunities for Greater Portland arts and culture leaders to gain knowledge and connections through workshops, discussions and one-on-one consulting with business experts. Skills Day is a part of our ongoing Business Volunteers for the Arts Program.
When: May 28, 2014 8am-2:30pm
Where: NW Natural, 220 Northwest 2nd Avenue, Portland, OR
Cost: $25
The National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE®) is a national conference on race and ethnicity issues.
When: May 27-31
Where: 120 W. Market St. Indianapolis, IN 46204
Cost: $750 or $450 for students
Contact: (405) 325-3694
Web Link:
In honor of Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month in  May, OAPIA (Oregon Asian Pacific Islander American) Theatre is presenting its third staged reading in partnership with Portland Center Stage and MediaRites Productions. This growing volunteer group of AAPI artists is dedicated to presenting the work of AAPI in the Portland community and beyond. Join us for a special afternoon of Nikki Nojima Louis’ reader’s theatre play, Breaking the Silence, based on the oral histories, poetry, stories about Japanese American immigration leading up to the forced incarceration during WWII. Many lost their property and many didn’t survive incarceration. The play follows three generations: Issei, Nisei and Sansei exploring their histories and what it means to be Japanese American. Since 1985 when Breaking the Silence was first performed, Louis has traveled throughout the U.S. and Japan creating readings and personalizing the last part of the production to reflect local history. In the Portland premiere of this important work, she has written the story of Portlander Minoru Yasui who bravely contested the constitutionality of the curfew imposed on Japanese Americans at the start America’s entry into WWII.
FREE staged reading of Breaking the Silence, directed by Dmae Roberts:
When: Saturday, May 31, 2014, 2:30pm
Where: Portland Center Stage’s Ellyn Bye Studio, 128 NW Eleventh Ave., Portland, OR 97209
Contact: 503-445-3700