I had the fortune of seeing Lawson speak last year at one of the governor's events, and I can attest to the fact that he is an absolutely dynamic speaker. Having gone through the Japanese American internment camps during WWII, his poems, essays, and speeches contain a lifetime of experiences.
For those of you who will be attending our two day event, you will have the opportunity to see three legendary pioneers of Asian American literature and activism. And what's best is that it's absolutely free--our generous sponsors (whom I will speak about in a future essay) are covering the bills because they believe, as Thymos does, that there should be no price to pay for recognizing our cultural heroes. This is perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime event, and if you are in the Portland area and can make it, we will welcome you. For more information, pm me or e-mail me at naruguard-44***at**yahoo.
Lawson Fusao Inada is an emeritus professor of writing at Southern Oregon University in Ashland. Inada is the author of five books: Legends from Camp, Drawing the Line, In This Great Land of Freedom, Just Into/Nations and Before the War. He is the editor of three important volumes, including the acclaimed Only What We Could Carry: The Japanese-American Internment Experience. On two previous occasions, in 1972 and 1985, Professor Inada won Poetry Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and his work has appeared in The Best American Poetry.
In addition to these individual publications, Inada has written critical introductions to a number of works, such as John Okada's No-No Boy.
He is also a contributing editor for the Northwest Review and was the narrator for PBS specials on "Children of the Camps" and "Conscience and the Constitution." In 2004 he was one of only 185 artists, scholars and scientists chosen from a nationwide pool of 3,200 applicants to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship. He is currently serving as the Steinbeck chair for the National Steinbeck Center, a forum established to promote a community-wide celebration of literature in the tradition of John Steinbeck.
Inada has been recognized by the President of the United States, appearing at the White House in "A Salute to Poetry and American Poets." His poetry volume Legends from Camp (1992), received the American Book Award and was featured on CBS Sunday Morning. He is a winner of the Governor's Arts Award (1997), the Oregon Book Award (for Drawing the Line, 1997), and the Pushcart Prize (1996) for poetry.
In 1997, he was awarded a Creative Arts Grant from the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund and his work has been the subject of a documentary titled "What It Means to Be Free: A Video about Poetry and Japanese-American Internment" and an award-winning animated film of "Legends from Camp" made in collaboration with his son, artist Miles Inada.