Poet and Washington Book Award Winner to Speak at Japanese Remembrance Event – This Saturday!

Michele Bombardier - PhotoMichele Bombardier, the island’s first ever Poet Laureate, is quickly bringing poetry to life on Bainbridge Island. “I’m having a blast,” she says, gushing with enthusiasm. “Two things I love: my hometown and poetry.”

Bombardier has pulled off a bit of a coup of by attracting a Japanese-American poet to coincide with the recognition of island history, when almost 81 years ago to the day scores of Bainbridge citizens of Japanese descent were forcibly marched off the island via the old Taylor Road ferry dock. (An Executive Order was signed on Feb. 19, 1942, and a little over a month later, Bainbridge Japanese-American citizens were removed from the island on March 30).

“When I interviewed for the Poet Laureate position, I said I hoped to bring a Japanese-American poet to Bainbridge in honor of its history and the Exclusion Memorial… I wrote a grant, which we won!”

A Matter of Loyalty poster courtesy of AHBA month later, Sharon Hashimoto, who won the Washington Book Award for More American, agreed to appear on Saturday Feb. 18. Hashimoto will present at a free event that evening, from 5-6 p.m. at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art. She will share her experiences through poetry, storytelling and mixed media, Bombardier said. (Read more about Ms. Hashimoto at: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/sharon-hashimoto).

“I was surprised while writing the grant for Washington Humanities (that is sponsoring this event) how much more I learned about the rounding up and incarceration of these Bainbridge citizens,” she added. “We will also hear from Lily Kodama, a survivor. Hearing directly from a survivor is increasingly rare and precious, something not to be missed.” Clearance Moriwaki, a Bainbridge City Councilor and long-time islander, will also say a few words. Moriwaki was instrumental in helping to establish the island’s Exclusion Memorial, now a National Park.

Day of Remembrance at the Japanese Exclusion Memorial 2023The next day – Feb. 19 – Join the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial Association, the Bainbridge Island Parks & Trails Foundation, and Bainbridge Island Metro Parks for a morning of community service and stewardship to honor the Day of Remembrance commemorating the 81st anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066, authorizing the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans. Volunteers will help remove weeds from the Memorial, as well as cleaning up outdoor art features. If you are interested in volunteering and becoming part of the work party visit: https://bijac.org/event/day-of-remembrance-work-party-at-the-exclusion-memorial/?event_date=2023-02-19

Susan Landgraf image courtesy of BARNMeanwhile, Bombardier is still planning to hold the monthly Bainbridge Open Mic at the BARN (or BOMB!) on Thursday Feb. 16th. Sign-ups begin at 6:45 p.m. and poets are asked to keep their musings to about four minutes each. This month’s featured poet is Susan Landgraf, author of “What We Bury Changes the Ground” and editor of “The Inspired Poet.”

She has published more than 400 poems, essays, and articles in journals, magazines, and newspapers, including Prairie Schooner, Poet Lore, Margie, Nimrod, Bellingham Review, and The Laurel Review. She was the Poet Laureate of Auburn and taught at Highline College for 27 years and at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. She is working on a memoir, a novel, and another poetry collection.

The latter event is part of Bombardier’s Poet Laureate program to bring accomplished poets to Bainbridge.

To learn about the Japanese Exclusion Act and the subsequent internment of Japanese-American citizens visit, https://bijac.org/

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