In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

108 W A L 34(1) SPRING 1999 we are and what we are doing here. Still, in an era when so many of the issues confronting the West— especially political issues— are presented in terms of the Christian religion, Norris’s measured exploration of just what it means to be a Christian becomes quite illuminative. For my part, though I am not particularly religious, I do have a strong interest in questions of faith. Norris has many useful and important things to say about faith in Amazing Grace, and I heartily recommend the book to Christians and nonChristians alike. May Sky: There Is Always Tomorrow. An Anthology of Japanese American Concentration Camp Kaiko Haiku. Compiled, translated, and prefaced by Violet Kazue de Cristoforo. Los Angeles: Sun and M oon Press, 1997. 287 pages, $29.95. Reviewed by Tomoyo Tamayama U tah State University After Executive Order 9066 forced 120,000 Japanese Americans to relo­ cate from the West Coast to interior camps, interned Japanese Americans organized art clubs in the camps, such as drawing clubs, flower arrangement clubs, music clubs, and haiku clubs. These clubs demonstrated their human dignity, even as they were confined to horse stables, their freedom restricted behind barbed wire. Kaiko haiku, a freestyle Japanese traditional verse form, opened internees’ emotions in an art. In May Sky, Violet Kazue de Cristoforo, a Nisei, or second generation Japanese American, and a haiku poet herself, collects internees’ haiku. She compiled this anthology to preserve the memories of war cruelties, to pre­ serve, as she says, “a poetry of resistance to the inhumanity of war” (16). Along with the poems, she includes rich information about the historical background of the evacuation of Japanese Americans. The book contains biographical data on the members of the haiku clubs, noting the camps or assembly centers in which they were detained. And there are many photographs, drawings, maps, and postcards (invita­ tions to regularly held haiku meetings), which help the readers to recon­ struct the atmosphere of those days. Although the translation of the haiku is difficult because there are no tonal enjoyments or certain haiku rhythms in English, the original Japanese texts are given on the left side and the artistically accurate translations are on the right side in open pages. In the Kaiko haiku, many internees express their depressed feelings, embodied in the fewest words: “A t daybreak / stars disappear / where do I discard my dreams?” writes Neiji Ozawa at the Gila Camp hospital (221). “Coiled in comb / wretched gray hair / autumn morning,” writes Sadayo Taniguchi at Gila Concentration Camp (173). These haiku show how internees were often silent in public but eloquent in haiku: “People not say­ BO O K REVIEW S 109 ing I under the shade tree / this day,” writes Honjyoshi Kunimori at Stockton Assembly Center (129). “Only the blue summer sky / the men / are silent,” writes Tokuji Hirai at Tule Lake Segregation Center, after a young Nisei was shot by a sentry (275). As Makoto Ueda, the chair of the Asian Studies Department at Stanford University, says in the foreword, “This anthology offers a rare opportunity for today’s readers to share the emotional experience of the war-time internees in a way no other medium of communication can” (10). Haiku gave the voiceless detainees a voice. The magnificent haiku pieces themselves are the fruits of the poets’ endeavors to hold themselves aloof from the miserable living conditions and injustices. A haiku leader, Kyotaro Komuro, says, “In order for us to transcend our condition we must immerse ourselves in nature, and be grate­ ful to find happiness in the life of haiku poetry” (89). Kazue Matsuda cap­ tures his disrupted mental state in “A pale purple iris / on a broken stem / hidden under a leaf” (225). Their careful observations and their awareness of being in nature offered them salvation because they could find relief from their oppressed daily lives in haiku. As Mayumi Nakatsuka comments in the introduction, “This haiku anthology is a lesson in peacemaking” (13). It presents the passion of the internees, who were in despair yet believed that “there is always tomorrow,” always, as Neiji Ozawa wrote, a “May sky” (223). Bernard Baruch Zakheim...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1948-7142
Print ISSN
0043-3462
Pages
pp. 108-109
Launched on MUSE
2017-10-04
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.