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The Poetry Center presents Brandon Shimoda and Aisuke Kondo, featuring a reading, an art presentation, and conversation. Shimoda reads a new work, written for the occasion, reflecting on the experience and legacy of Japanese American internment during World War II, followed by one long poem from his book The Desert (The Song Cave, 2018). Kondo, Japanese artist and visiting scholar at SF State in Asian American Studies, speaks (with live Japanese-to-English interpretation by Wesley Uenten) on the influence of his great grandfather's migration to the US and his internment during World War II in the Topaz Camp, in Utah, on his own art and creative process, interspersed with a video presentation and slideshow from recent exhibitions. Prior to the event, the audience was invited to join an informal gathering at the Ruth Asawa Garden of Remembrance, a public space designed to commemorate the 19 Japanese American San Francisco State University students incarcerated in internment camps during World War II. The reading and presentation are followed by a conversation between the artists and with the audience (with Japanese-English interpretation by Takeshi Moro). This event, funded in part by a Ford Foundation grant to the Academy of American Poets in support of the Poetry Coalition, is part of a series of nationwide programming during the month of March 2019 in conjunction with the Poetry Coalition, under the theme: "What is it then between us?" Poetry and Democracy, and was co-sponsored by the Department of Asian American Studies at SF State.
The Poetry Center presents Darius James and Val Jeanty in a first-ever collaboratiive "workshop performance" at The Poetry Center, in advance of their full performance the following night at The Lab in San Francisco. James reads from a newly issued edition of his novel Negrophobia: An Urban Parable (NYRB, 2019). Jeanty plays an electronic Korg Wavedrum as well as electronic turntables, improvising in real time with James's reading. This event, the first of a three-evening program in The Poetry Center's In Common Writers Series, was supported by a grant from the Walter & Elise Haas Fund.