vocalisms #32: Garrett Hongo


vocalisms is a regular feature that presents selected tracks from voca, the Poetry Center's online audio video library of more than 800 recorded readings, spanning from 1963 to today. 

photo of Garrett Hongo

In this 2005 lecture and reading, Garrett Hongo discusses his work and reads poems that will be published six years later in Coral Road, a book rooted in both the story of Hongo’s own family and the history of Americans of Japanese ancestry. Hongo reads poems written in the voice of Kubota, a persona based on his maternal grandfather, who experiences internment during World War II. In these poems, Kubota speaks to others who have experienced imprisonment and detention, those, as Hongo describes them, “trapped beneath the guard towers of history.” The persona of Kubota allows Hongo to immerse himself in the first-person experiences of disillusionment and fracture caused by the U.S. program of internment, while simultaneously finding in that fracture opportunities for meaningful, empowering connection with others who face similar experiences.