Legends from Camp

Lawson Fusao Inada, Author Coffee House Press $16 (112p) ISBN 978-1-56689-004-5
The preface to this volume presents an apologia of sorts: `` . . . don't let the word poetry get in your way . . . this book is full of songs, paintings, photographs, prayers, and stories--that just happen to look like poetry.'' Inada, who co-edited The Big Aiiieeeee! , is correct in pointing this out; the work is what one might call populist writing, which has become fashionable along with the multicultural movement with which he associates himself as an ``Ethnic Minority Third World Asian American Poet.'' His long opening section is a meditation on the Japanese internment camps during World War II. Unfortunately, the writing is not precise enough to convey a concrete sense of that experience. Generally these pieces are unsophisticated in tone, technique and conceptual structure, although at times the author's sunny disposition comes through. ``Poem for Television'' offers some characteristic writing: ``Welcome to my poem. / Welcome to my home. / This is my song, my story,/ this is my tell-a-vision / to you . . . '' Derivative of Whitman, but neither inventive nor sonorous, the writing is often intended for ``community performance'' in which music and dancing might bolster it. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
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