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Oregon Poet Laureate Lawson Inada shares poetry about his experiences in Japanese-American internment camps on May 24 at the University of Denver. (Photo by Joe Nguyen/AsiaXpress.com)


Poet Lawson Inada shares tales of Camp Amache at DU

Oregon poet laureate shares insightful, humorous stories about life in internment camp as a child

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DENVER – Bringing moments of humor and reflection, Oregon Poet Laureate Lawson Inada shared poetry about his experiences as a child living in Japanese internment camps on May 24 at the University of Denver.


Inada – who had lived in Camp Amache in Grenada during World War II – discussed life as a 6-year-old inside the camps, sharing stories with students and community members in attendance. One piece he read was a note from one of the other children at the camp who, he said, succinctly described the experience for the interned.


"I meet you early, I meet you late, I meet you at Amache gate," he said.


He talked about the simple pleasures he and the other children would find, such as digging for bullet slugs after the stationed soldiers would finish with shooting practice. He said he took a step back and tried to examine the point of view of the soldiers who were assigned at a camp filled with American citizens.


"Everyone was going through the wartime," he said.


He shared a story about leaving camp and how, upon arriving in Denver, the train conductor's announcement to transfer brought a sense of freedom his grandfather.


Inada said he visited Camp Amache while he was in town and while he was returning to Denver, he stopped by a museum for the Sand Creek Massacre. He said by visiting these different sites, he is able to see people in different ways. As a teacher, he said, he often encouraged his students to examine poetry and writing from their own cultural background.


"The writing gives you a feeling about the people," he said.

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