Awake in the River and Shedding Silence
- PUBLISHED: December 2021
- SUBJECT LISTING: Literature / Poetry, Asian American Studies, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 272 Pages, 6 x 9 in
- SERIES: Classics of Asian American Literature
- ISBN: 9780295749587
Fierce, raw, and unapologetic, Janice Mirikitani’s poetry and prose are as vibrant and resonant today as when these two collections were first published in 1978 and 1987. Now back in print in one volume, Awake in the River and Shedding Silence epitomizes Mirikitani’s singular voice—one that is brash, sexual, politically outspoken, and unconcerned with pandering to mainstream audiences. An influential artist and activist, Mirikitani has advanced the causes of women of color feminisms, global anti-imperialism, and Afro-Asian solidarity for more than fifty years. Her writings confront sexualized violence, anti-Asian racism, the intergenerational trauma of incarceration, the dangers of passivity, and internalized oppression, while also illuminating the power of awakening from silence and fighting for justice. Connecting Japanese American discrimination with broader struggles from the local to the global, Awake in the River and Shedding Silence showcases how the renowned poet found power in speaking out.
Authors & Contributors
Janice Mirikitani (1941-2021) was the author of five collections of poetry and the biography Beyond the Possible (with Cecil Williams), as well as the editor of several anthologies. An award-winning artist and activist, she was San Francisco’s second poet laureate and also the cofounder and founding president of the Glide Foundation, which provides services to marginalized communities in the Bay Area.
A major poet in America, Janice Mirikitani speaks all our truths.- Maya Angelou
Janice Mirikitani was a muse for the Asian American feminist movement. She spoke back eloquently and cuttingly, challenging orientalist depictions of sexuality and compliance. She proclaimed collective survival and the will to resist both the spectacular (World War II internment, nuclear destruction, genocidal war) and every day acts of aggression. Juliana Chang offers a wonderful introduction to this dual volume of Awake in the River (1978) and Shedding Silence (1987). Together, they reintroduce 21st century audiences to the power and vision of Janice Mirikitani.- Judy Tzu-Chun Wu, University of California, Irvine
Janice Mirikitani’s writings, artistry and activism inspired me to pursue my own career as a dramatist. I’m thrilled that her groundbreaking work is being reissued at a time when what we used to call "Third World Solidarity" has become more necessary than ever. In this volume, Janice’s prose and poetry thrills me anew with its vitality, joy, and unstoppable life force.- David H. Hwang, Columbia University
In Awake in the River and Shedding Silence, each compact line explodes with the power of raw emotion held too tightly, for too long. Mirikitani’s groundbreaking words reverberate across the decades, etching into our collective memories the sharpest, deepest cuts of US militarism, racism, colonialism, and violence against women. Deeply compassionate and elegiac, her poems are songs of survivors, when the voiceless finally speak and are heard. Her works summon coalitions: of Asian Americans, of women of color. In these poems, Mirikitani gives generation after generation of readers the fierce words to pass on the harshest of personal and community traumas and inspire her readers to continue fighting oppression and countering violence. This collection of her early poems marks a turning point in American poetry, history, and culture that must be recognized; we hear again the powerful, startling voice of an Asian American woman poet forging a new literature from an emerging Asian American identity.- Lynn Itagaki, University of Missouri