Beyond Baroque Reprises ‘May Sky’ Internment Haiku Event

“May Sky” participants at Beyond Baroque on March 16. Front row: John Iwohara, Emily Kariya. Second row: Amy Uyematsu, Laurel Ann Bogan, Richard Modiano. Third row: Phyllis Hayashibara, Brian Maeda, Emily Winters. Back: Alice Stek.


On March 16, Beyond Baroque reprised a 2010 reading of kaiko haiku, free-style haiku not bound by the traditions of three lines of five, seven, and five syllables, written in Japanese by internees of Japanese ancestry while incarcerated in assembly centers and American concentration camps during World War II.

The Rev. John Iwohara of Gardena Buddhist Church and Emily Kariya, teacher of Japanese language at Santa Monica High School, repeated their roles from eight years ago to read selected haiku in Japanese. Beyond Baroque Executive Director Richard Modiano, Sansei poet Amy Uyematsu, and Venice poet Laurel Ann Bogen read the English translations.

Venice Japanese American Memorial Monument Committee members Phyllis Hayashibara, Alice Stek, and Emily Winters read the prose introductions establishing the sections of haiku, originally selected and curated by poet and essayist Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo in 2010 from “May Sky — There Is Always Tomorrow: An Anthology of Japanese American Concentration Camp Kaiko Haiku,” compiled, translated, and prefaced by Violet Kazue de Cristoforo (1917-2007).

Poets had written haiku in haiku clubs before World War II, and continued to write haiku during their incarceration, publishing their reflections on life in camp newsletters and literary magazines.