James Masao Mitsui Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

James Masao Mitsui (mee-tsew-ee) is known mainly for his poetry.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

James Masao Mitsui’s first book, Journal of the Sun, won the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award in 1974, and he received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1976. Mitsui belongs to the generation of Asian American writers who began to be published and taken seriously in the wake of the 1960’s Black Arts movement, and his first book was published only three years after the pioneering volume of fellow Japanese American poet Lawson Fusao Inada, Before the War (1971). Journal of the Sun also appeared the same year that the breakthrough anthology of Asian American writing, Aiiieeeee! An Anthology of Asian-American Writers, edited by Frank Chin, was published by Howard University Press, the publishing arm of a traditionally black institution. Mitsui’s poetry has been published in more than sixty magazines and has been included in numerous anthologies and textbooks. He has served as the poetry consultant to Scott-Foresman Publishers.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Blakely, Keisha, and C. L. Chua. “After a Stranger Calls to Tell Me My Mother’s Been Hit by a Car in Front of the Buddhist Church.” In Masterplots II: Poetry Series Supplement, edited by John Wilson and Philip K. Jason. Pasadena, Calif.: Salem Press, 1998. A close reading of the poem, analyzing its artistry as well as its social and religious import.

Cullum, Linda E. Contemporary American Ethnic Poets: Lives, Work, Sources. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2004. Contains a biography on Mitsui that also looks at his poetic works.

Mitsui, James. “James Mitsui.” Interview by Nicholas O’Connell. In At the Field’s End: Interviews with Twenty-Two Pacific Northwest Writers, edited by O’Connell. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1998. An extremely informative and wide-ranging interview. Mitsui discusses his ethnic and family background, his literary influences (American and Asian), his writing methods, and his attitudes toward society and life.

Wilson, Fatima Lim. “The Intimacy of Gestures: From a Three-Cornered World.” International Examiner 24, no. 8 (May 6, 1997): 26. Compares the subtle suggestiveness of Mitsui’s minimalist art to that of N drama and praises his blending of the unfamiliar with the familiar.

Young Bear, Ray, et al. “Ethnicity in Poetry.” Wicazo a Review 3, no. 1 (Spring, 1987): 8-22. A lively discussion of Mitsui’s attitude toward his ethnic background, the Japanese language, and his relative position vis-à-vis other Japanese American writers (for example, Garrett Kaoru Hongo).