Tuesday, November 26, 2013

"Topaz," poems by Brian Komei Dempster

My colleague Brian Komei Dempster has edited two moving collections of the memories of Japanese-American internees in the United States during World War II, thus preserving this sad part of history and allowing the now-elderly survivors of this experience to tell their stories in their own words. (See my post of 6/7/11 about the second of these books). Dempster has now published a stunning collection of his own poetry, “Topaz” (Four Way Books, 2013). I started reading “Topaz” (the name of the internment camp where some of the poet’s own relatives were incarcerated) one recent evening, planning to just dip into the book for now and read it more thoroughly later, but found I could not put it down until I finished it. The poems are beautifully written and gripping. In fact, they are amazing poems, touching on so many elements of family, history, ethnicity, connection, sexuality, youth, aging, illness, spirituality, anger, reconciliation, and much more. The thread running through all these topics is a fierce commitment to family and to claiming and remembering history, both personal and cultural. Throughout the collection, there is striking and beautiful imagery and there are provocative connections made. Some of the poems are meditative, some mournful, some quietly angry; many portray love in its many varieties. All brim with the life force. The poems, and the book, are incandescent.


  1. Thanks for letting your readers know about this collection. I got it as a xmas present for just the right person.

    1. So glad this book will be a good Xmas present for the right person! (I think I know who that might be!)


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