Internment camp-born poet Lawrence Matsuda to be invited at a Los Angeles private school, Feb 9, 1:25 PM

Pilgrim School, a preschool-through-grade-12 private school in Downtown Los Angeles welcomes wartime internment camp-born Lawrence Matsuda as a special guest and visiting writer on Wednesday, February 9.

“I carry my own fence,” he writes in his poem “War on Terror Border Crossing.” The image alludes to the ongoing effect of his family’s internment at the Minidoka concentration camp during World War II.

Matsuda was born in the camp, and the poems in his new collection, A Cold Wind from Idaho (Black Lawrence Press, 2010), document the emotional damage the internment wreaked on him and his family, and by extension the more than 120,000 other Japanese Americans who were evacuated to the camps following the bombing at Pearl Harbor.

An excerpt from his poem The Noble Thing reads:

Depression took Mom away

like invisible armed guards.  She was

a stranger  a stick-like figure with arms

and legs poking out of a white smock,

pacing the sidewalk next to the Western State Hospital turn-around.

Dad never talked about it, none of it.

I never heard him say the word Minidoka

Gaman, endure the unbearable with dignity.

The Japanese term gaman mandates that an individual suffer in silence.  When I read my poems at the 2010 [Minidoka] Pilgrimage, many of the Japanese in the audience were crying, Matsuda said. One told me she never cried for Minidoka for over 60 years and when she heard the poems  there was an outpouring of sadness. Another told me that, after the first four poems, she wanted me to stop because she felt like it was a punch in the gut.

Matsuda will discuss his experiences and read from his book of poetry at 1:25 pm in the Barnum Room of Pilgrim School, 540 South Commonwealth Avenue, Los Angeles 90020. (213) 385-7351

All are invited to attend the afternoon session.