May 23rd, 2006

Egrets Reading

Coincidence or Increased Awareness?

Have you ever noticed that if you hear a new word for the first time and it makes an impression on you, you'll hear it again within a short period of time somewhere else? This sometimes happens with a name, too. A new name comes into your awareness and suddenly you hear of someone else with that name.

At the end of April, I was at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at UCLA and while hanging out near the poetry stage, I happened to hear a reading by Amy Uyematsu. This impressed me on many levels and I ended up buying not one, but two of her books, Stone Bow Prayer and Nights of Fire, Nights of Rain. One of these days I need to do a complete blog entry on a review of these books (I'm still stunned by "Unexpected Passage", her poem about hysterectomy in Stone Bow Prayer, and some of her poems with mathematical images (Uyematsu is a math teacher) speak to the latent mathematician in my soul.

On Saturday, I was at Descanso Gardens with my haiku group and before tea in the Japanese Garden, a friend and I hiked up to the Boddy House which is used as an art gallery. (Manchester Boddy, the newspaper magnate, was the owner of Descanso Gardens before he sold it to the county). We wandered around and looked at paintings and at some point I became lost in some paintings on maple which worked with the grain of the wood. I realized it was time to go but had lost my friend, and eventually found her in a room which had a display of historical photographs. One of them was of a Japanese-American nursery owner specializing in camellias, who during WWII needed to sell his nursery stock because he was being relocated to an interment camp. Boddy apparently bought his entire stock of camellias from him - 100,000 to 300,000 plants, depending upon where you read the story. The nursery owner's name? Francis Uyematsu.

It turns out that he's the grandfather of the poet. Odd that I should hear of them both for the first time within such a short period of time. Today, Uyematsu's name turned up for the third time in less than three weeks in my personal radar. It seems she's giving a poetry reading on June 30th at Tebot Bach in Orange County. The reading will be held at Golden West College's Community Room 102 in Huntington Beach. If you're in the neighborhood, I'd recommend going. She's an excellent poet.