| The Heath Anthology of
American Literature, Fifth Edition
Janice Mirikitani, sansei, a third-generation
Japanese American, was born in Stockton, California, just before World War II,
during which she and her family were interned in concentration camps,
along with 110,000 other Japanese Americans. Mirikitani is the editor of
several anthologies, including Third World Women, Time to Greez! Incantations
from the Third World, and AYUMI, A Japanese American Anthology, a 320-page
bilingual anthology featuring four generations of Japanese American writers, poets,
and graphic artists. She has published in many anthologies, textbooks and
periodicals, including Asian American Heritage, The Third Woman: Minority Women
Writers of the United States, Amerasia, and Bridge.
is a poet, dancer, and teacher, as well as a social and political activist; she
has been program director of Glide Church/Urban Center since 1967 and director
of the Glide Theater Group. Her commitment to Third World positions against
racism and oppression is reflected in the protest content in her major
collections, Awake in the River (1978) and Shedding Silence (1987). George
Leong says of her: “From the eye of racist relocation fever which came about
and plagued America during World War II, Janice Mirikitani grew/bloomed/fought
as a desert flower behind barbed wire. She grew with that pain, of what it all
represented; from the multinational corporations to war from Korea to Vietnam
to Latin America to Africa to Hunter’s Point and Chinatown” (“Afterword,” Awake
in the River).
of her work seeks defiantly to break the stereotypes of Asian Americans
prevalent in mainstream American culture. Her voice is often angry, aggressive,
blunt, and direct. But it can also be elegiac. Because she is finding new
ground, Mirikitani takes the time to explore her family history, and she
anchors her identity securely in the details of Asian American experience. In
this manner she manages to escape easy nostalgia and cultural sentimentality.
Mirikitani does not separate her writing from a social and political platform
and sees the necessity to write out of a political agenda. Identifying her
community as Third World, she says, “I don’t think that Third World writers can
really afford to separate themselves from the ongoing struggles of their
people. Nor can we ever not embrace our history.”
Shirley Geok-lin Lim|
University of California, Santa Barbara
In the Heath Anthology
For My Father
Awake in the River
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Why is Preparing Fish a Political Act?
The text of Mirikitani's poem.
An Analysis of The Poetry of Janice Mirikitani
The text and analysis of Third World Students Strike.
An article from Poetry Flash about San Francisco's New Poet Laureate.
Notes on Mirikitani's style and themes.
Biographical sketch and a cover scan of We, the Dangerous.
Deidre Lashgari, "Disrupting the Deadly Stillness: Janice Mirikitani's Poetics of Violence," Asian America 2 (1993): 141-155
Janice Mirikitani, "The Survivor." Amerasia Journal 7.1 (1980): 121-127
Janice Mirikitani, "Introduction: Silence is Not Golden," Watch Out! We're Talking: Speaking Out About Incest and Abuse, ed. Mirikitani, 1993: ix-xiv
Kyoko Nozaki, "Four Generations of Japanese American Women in the Works of Janice Mirikitani." Acta Humanistica et Scientifica 12.4 (1993): 216-250
"The Woman and the Hawk." Ayumi: A Japanese American Anthology, ed. The Japanese American Anthology Committee, 1980: 219-228
Stan Yogi, "Yearning for the Past: The Dynamics of Memory in Sansei Internment Poetry," Approaches to American Ethnic Literatures, 1996
Stan Yogi, "Japanese American Literature," An Interethnic Companion to Asian American Literature. Ed. King-kok Cheung, 1997: 125-155