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Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Amy Uyematsu Interview II
Narrator: Amy Uyematsu
Interviewers: Brian Niiya (primary); Valerie Matsumoto (secondary)
Location: Culver City, California
Date: December 8, 2022
Densho ID: ddr-densho-1000-524-10

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My third book came out in 2005, it's called Stone Bow Prayer, which is actually the title of one of the poems in the book. I like the fact that you could interpret it as "stone bow prayer," because I think in a lot of my work, I'm also trying to bow and to honor something. This has its own kind of weird, weird history, Stone Bow Prayer, because Copper Canyon Press, which was the press that published all the Pablo Neruda books I was buying, and for me, anyway, with my limited knowledge of the poetry scene, Copper Canyon was one of the presses that I really looked up to. So they used to have a contest, and I submitted two years in a row. And both years, it turns out I was, like, runner up, I came in second. And so Sam Hamill, who at the time was the, he was the founder, one of the founders of Copper Canyon, and at the time was still editor. [Interruption] But anyway, he said that he'd be willing to take on the book, so I was really happy. Copper Canyon did Stone Bow Prayer (...). And it is different because I organized it according to the Japanese monthly calendar, which is based on the Chinese lunar calendar. And so every chapter's name is the name of a month. So, for example, satsuki, May is the month for planting rice shoots, or fumitsuki, July is the month of writing poetry. And I kind of like this because it gave me a framework to put my poems -- I was able to cover lots of different sections, because I had twelve sections, that were short to medium length. Well, anyway, that's the way this book is organized. It's the first book where I had an entire section of mathematical poems. It also has lots of nature poems in here and stone poems, which, as you know, has become a recurring theme for me. And there is an Asian American section, and actually, that's where I wrote about "Desert Camouflage," the poem (about) Grandpa Morita, but also I wrote "The Fold," the practice of many Japanese Americans -- but also now Asian Americans -- at the time were getting the plastic surgery to get double lids, double eyelid. And my uncle, my mother's brother-in-law, was actually a very successful plastic surgeon. And did surgeries, has done surgeries on many in the JA community. So this was kind of interesting. And then another poem in here which I had fun with is called "Flavor of the Month." And it resulted after I saw a Newsweek article that said, "Why Asian guys are on a roll." This was Newsweek magazine, February 21, 2000. So I wrote a poem about Asian American men, praising Asian American men. Anyway, so that's Stone Bow Prayer.

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