Garrett Hongo Analysis

Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

What importance do specific places such as highways or cemeteries have in the poetry of Garrett Hongo?

What elements in Hongo’s poetry strike you as unique to the Japanese American experience of the twentieth century? What elements seem to have a more universal character?

How do landscape and nature descriptions in Hongo’s memoir Volcano affect you as the reader?

What is the role of men in some of Hongo’s poems? Is it different from that of the female characters?

What, according to Hongo’s writings about him, is the importance of his maternal grandfather Kubota?

What, in your opinion, should a good teacher of creative writing such as Hongo try to teach his or her students? Can one teach the writing of poetry?

What is your personal reaction to one of Hongo’s poems dealing with the memory of a powerful event in the past?


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Chock, Eric, and Darrell H. Y. Lum, eds. The Best of Bamboo Ridge: The Hawaii Writer’s Quarterly. Honolulu: Bamboo Ridge Press, 1986.

Evans, Alice. “A Vicious Kind of Tenderness: An Interview with Garrett Hongo.” Poets & Writers Magazine 20, no. 5 (September-October 1992): 37-46. Hongo’s writing stems from his need to be part of a “corrective process in American history.” Useful comments on craft, family, and Asian-Pacific culture.

Filipelli, Laurie. Garrett Hongo. Boise, Idaho: Boise State University, 1997. A critical survey of Hongo’s work with bibliographic references.

Jarman, Mark. “The Volcano Inside.” The Southern Review 32, no. 2 (Spring, 1996): 337-343.

Slowik, Mary. “Beyond Lot’s Wife: The Immigration Poems of Marilynn Chin, Garrett Hongo, Li-Young Lee, and David Mura.” MELUS 25, no. 3 (2000): 221-242. Hongo is discussed as one of several Asian American poets looking back through the immigrant experience to their ethnic roots.