These are the words of the Last Will written by my paternal grandfather Kiroku Bepp while he was a prisoner at Heart Mountain camp in Wyoming during WWII dated September 2, 1945.
I wrote this poem in English and Spanish, dedicated to my paternal grandmother Sumi: “Something that my grandmother taught me, not in words, not in gestures, not by smell - a riddle that first entered the pulse now persists while I dream then pushes my pen in ways that I never expect”.
La Venganza de los Milagros
A tribute to the migrants/asylum seekers who struggle to defy persecution. In Spanish venganza means revenge and milagro means miracle, or a small votive offering used as prayers for protection.
No Yes Si
Dedicated to the Ayotzinapa 43, forty-three students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College who were abducted and disappeared in Iguala, Mexico in 2014. It is a plea for the demands of the families to finally find the truth and to bring the perpetrators of the crime to justice. It refers to conflict between people, distilled into the words: “NO vs. YES vs SI” until ultimately the voice of the people can prevail.
A tribute to the legacy of Yuri Kochiyama (1921-2014) who was a Japanese American activist and civil rights leader. I pay tribute to her call for unity that will live on and continue to empower and influence future generations. The white text is an excerpt from her speech entitled “Mothers and Daughters” and the black text is the word “unity” translated into 62 languages.
In honor of those who were imprisoned during WWII and also present day migrant families who have been separated and put in detention prisons. This is a call out to end these unjust practices and to stop repeating history.
This was an “impromptu” collaboration with Bay Area poet and artist Flo Oy Wong. After she received one of my collage pieces entitled “Her Words Gave Us the Wind”, it inspired her to write this poem which I then incorporated into a handcut paper piece. I incorporated the pine needle motif that represents longevity in Japanese spiritual mythology.
Her Words Brought Us the Wind
With conviction she faces her
challenges to excavate words
that her immigrant parents brought
from their homeland to create an us
in Land of the Free, Land of the
Brave where people fly in the wind
Flo Oy Wong
November 12, 2022