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Issei Poetry Project

Video Poetry Collection

Issei poetry project image

Video Poetry Collection

Morio Hayashida (b. Aug. 25, 1904 Fukuoka, Japan – d. Apr. 23, 1993 Los Angeles, USA) was an Issei (first generation) Japanese immigrant who emigrated to Los Angeles at about nineteen years old. In Los Angeles, he worked as a writer for the Rafu Shimpō and Kashū Mainichi newspapers and as a gardener. In 1928, while living near the Crenshaw neighborhood, he published a collection of Japanese-language poems, Where to Go. Hayashida was part of a flourishing of Japanese-language literature in the United States of the 1920s and 30s, during which Issei self-published books and supported each other through collectively-funded journals. He participated in local bungei (literary) clubs and actively published within the Japanese American literary community, such as in the journal Shūkaku, in newspapers, and anthologies. During World War II, he and his brother Harry rented land and farmed near Salt Lake City. After the war, he served as president of the Southern California Gardeners’ Federation in the 1970s and was a co-founder of the Japanese American Community Credit Union. He was also part of a community of gardeners who regularly published senryu poems in association magazines, writing about their daily lives caring for the gardens of Los Angeles’ wealthy.

Street of Lights - Morio Hayashida

A short poem written by Morio Hayashida and published in Torch (1933), an anthology commemorating the 1932 Los Angeles Summer Olympics. Hayashida was a leading figure in the pre-war Los Angeles issei (first generation Japanese immigrant) literary community.

Conversation of Tomorrow - Morio Hayashida

During this pandemic, Hirokazu Kosaka, JACCC Master Artist in Residence, has been digging through his archive of Japanese-language Issei, Kibei, and Nisei literature. It's a treasure trove of creative writing by first and second-generation Japanese Americans, largely untapped by US scholars because it hasn't been translated. This video is of a poem by Morio Hayashida, Kosaka's grandfather! Translated and produced by Mellon Community Curatorial Fellow, Kenji Liu.
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