Los Angeles Issei Poetry: The Flowering of Pre-War Japanese American Poetry

Los Angeles Issei Poetry: The Flowering of Pre-War Japanese American Poetry



Sat, Sep 30, 2023  - Sun, Oct 1, 2023


JACCC & Little Tokyo
244 South San Pedro St., Los Angeles, CA 90012


Discover the rich heritage of Issei poetry and immerse yourself in the beauty of Japanese-language literature written in Los Angeles before WWII. Join us as we celebrate the legacy of the Issei community, the first generation of Japanese immigrants to Los Angeles, through a community-based translation workshop, Little Tokyo poetry walking tour, and a thought-provoking public presentation by artists and humanities scholars.

Event 1: Community-Based Translation Workshop (90 minutes)

Date: September 30, 2023 9 - 10:30 AM
Location: JACCC

No knowledge of Japanese required! Awaken your inner poet as we delve into the world of Issei poetry through translation. This workshop invites the community to engage with the collaborative art of interpreting and translating Japanese-language poetry.

Translators Andrew Leong and Lisa Hofmann-Kuroda will lead you through the basics of literary translation using materials from the archives of the Issei Poetry Project, which collects Japanese-language literary materials written by Japanese immigrants in California during the prewar period.

We will also discuss the ethics of translation and what it means to work with a community archive. Who do we translate for? What is our positionality to the text? How much historical research should we conduct before working on a text from almost a hundred years ago? How might we engage in best practices around publication of materials?

We invite all community members to attend, prior experience with literary translation and/or reading fluency in Japanese is not a requirement to attend the workshop, though it is of course welcome!

Event 2: Los Angeles Issei Poetry: Artists and Scholars Respond to the Archive

Date: September 30, 2023 11 AM - 12 PM
Location: JACCC

The public is invited to an afternoon of unique interpretations and creative responses to the rich tapestry of Issei literature in JACCC’s Los Angeles Issei Poetry archive. Through a blend of creativity, scholarly insights, and thought-provoking discussions, you'll gain a fresh perspective on the enduring relevance and cultural significance of Issei poetry.

Event 3: Little Tokyo Poetry Walking Tour

Date: October 1, 2023 5 - 6 PM
Location: Little Tokyo, Los Angeles (meet at JACCC)

A guided tour through Little Tokyo, a community steeped in poetic inspiration. Led by knowledgeable guides, this poetry walking tour will take you on an exploration of iconic landmarks, hidden gems, and literary treasures associated with Issei poetry. You'll experience the essence of Japanese-language Issei poetry come to life, gaining a deeper understanding of the first generation’s influence on the poetic landscape of Los Angeles. A partnership with the Little Tokyo Historical Society.


Mark your calendars and join us for Los Angeles Issei Poetry: The Flowering of Pre-War Japanese American Poetry

For inquiries and further information, please contact Kenji Liu (link to email and bcc

This program is funded in part by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) and a California Humanities Quick Grant.

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