20 poets, 10 poems, 25 years of National Poetry Month

Barracks Home

Toyo Suyemoto
Author
Toyo Suyemoto
Toyo Suyemoto (1916–2003), a lifelong writer, was raised in Sacramento and attended the University of California, Berkeley. In 1942, she and her young son, Kay, were taken into custody with other Japanese Americans and sent to the Topaz Relocation Center in Utah; Kay would later die from a disease contracted in the camp. Suyemoto continued to write while imprisoned. In the late 1940s, her poems appeared in the Yale Review and Common Ground. After earning a degree in library science from the University of Michigan, she worked for 20 years as a librarian at Ohio State University. Her memoir, I Call to Remembrance: Toyo Suyemoto’s Years of Internment, was published posthumously in 2007.
Paisley Rekdal
Selected and Read By
Paisley Rekdal
Paisley Rekdal is the author of four books of nonfiction and six books of poems. Her most recent book of poetry is Nightingale, and a new book of nonfiction, Appropriate: A Provocation, was published by Norton in 2021. Her poetry has been included in multiple editions of The Best American Poetry series, and she was guest editor for Best American Poetry 2020. Rekdal received an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship in 2019. She is Utah’s poet laureate and the creator of Mapping Literary Utah , a digital archive that charts the state’s wide-ranging literary landscape.

This is our barracks, squatting on the ground,
Tar papered shacks, partitioned into rooms
By sheetrock walls, transmitting every sound
Of neighbor’s gossip or the sweep of brooms
The open door welcomes the refugees,
And now at least there is no need to roam
Afar: here space enlarges memories
Beyond the bounds of camp and this new home.
The floor is carpeted with dust, wind-borne
Dry alkalai, patterned with insect feet,
What peace can such a place as this impart?
We can but sense, bewildered and forlorn,
That time, disrupted by the war from neat
Routines, must now adjust within the heart.

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