Mitsuye May Yamada
Female, child of Issei parents. Born July 5, 1923, in Fukuoka, Japan while her mother and two older Nisei brothers visited relatives. Named Mitsuye Mei Yasutake at birth. From age 3, grew up in Seattle, WA. Father employed by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service as interpreter for twenty years, until separated from family on December 7, 1941 and interned as an enemy alien. Attended Cleveland High School before being removed from Seattle with mother and three brothers in 1942, and incarcerated at Puyallup Assembly Center, Washington, and Minidoka concentration camp, Idaho. Allowed temporary leave from Minidoka, to travel with brother William Toshio Yasutake to visit their father, Jack Kaichiro Yasutake, incarcerated at U.S. Department of Justice internment camp in Lordsburg, NM. Released from Minidoka in 1943 to work and attend college in Cincinnati. Received B.A. in English and Art from New York University. M.A. in English Literature and Research from University of Chicago. Married and had four children. Moved to Southern California in 1960. Taught for 23 years at community colleges in Southern California and other institutions, retiring from Cypress College as Professor of English in 1989. Author of Camp Notes and Other Poems, first published in 1976; Desert Run, (1988); writer of numerous other essays, short stories, and poems widely anthologized in collections such as This Bridge Called My Back (1981) and Women Poets of the World (1983). Featured in "Mitsuye and Nellie: Two American Poets," documentary film on Asian women in the United States, aired on national public television, 1981. Founder of MultiCultural Women Writers (MCWW), member of Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States (MELUS), and active in many community, arts and cross-cultural programs. Elected to National Board of Directors of Amnesty International USA in 1987 and served for six years. Recipient of numerous awards and honors recognizing her professional and volunteer contributions to society.
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