Mitsuye Yamada Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Mitsuye Yamada (yah-mah-dah) published two short stories in Desert Run: Poems and Stories and, in addition to producing her own work, has collaborated with others in editing poetry collections. Her essays on literature, personal history, and human rights have appeared in anthologies and periodicals, and she compiled a teachers’ guide for Amnesty International. In 1981, the Public Broadcasting Service aired a documentary, Mitsuye and Nellie: Two Asian-American Poets, featuring Yamada and Chinese American writer Nellie Wong.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Mitsuye Yamada is one of the first writers to publish a personal account of the United States’ internment of citizens of Japanese descent. Publication of the “Camp Notes” poems also marked an important event in the resurgence of feminist literature in the 1970’s. Yamada has served on the national board of Amnesty International on the organization’s Committee on International Development. She has received numerous awards for her writing, teaching, and human rights work.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Cheng, Scarlet. “Foreign All Your Life.” Review of Desert Run, by Mitsuye Yamada, and Seventeen Syllables, by Hisaye Yamamoto DeSoto. Belles Lettres 4, no. 2 (Winter, 1989). The reviewer finds Yamada’s poetry nostalgic and filled with lyricism but notes the way in which poems consistently confront pain and alienation.

Harth, Erika. Last Witnesses: Reflections on the Wartime Internment of Japanese Americans. New York: Palgrave/St. Martin’s Press, 2001. Contains “Legacy of Silence I,” by Yamada, which gives gaman, the virtue of endurance, as a cultural reason for why the Japanese Americans are not more vocal about their experiences, and “Legacy of Silence II,” by Jeni Yamada, in which she explains how her marriage to a Jew exposed her to a group that is not as reluctant to speak about past injustices.

Patterson, Anita Haya. “Resistance to Images of the Internment: Mitsuye Yamada’s Camp Notes.” MELUS 23, no. 3 (Fall, 1998): 103-128. Examines poems in Camp Notes, and Other Writings in light of the concept of “obligation” and the problematic issue of the seeming nonresistance by Americans of Japanese ancestry to unconstitutional imprisonment in concentration camps. The essay contains photographs from newspapers and other sources to illustrate images of Japanese...

(The entire section is 554 words.)