The AACP Newsletter
|Since 1970||Asian American Curriculum Project, Inc. - Books for All Ages||January 2004|
|Newsletter Home Page||Event Schedule||AsianAmericanBooks.com||Editor's Notes||Featured Books|
First Calligraphy or Writing of the New Year
Introduction to Haiku Poetry
The rules for writing English haiku can be quite involved and even contradictory to each other. There are lots of resources on the Internet to learn how to write haiku. Check out the websites listed in the side bar and do your own research.
The sidebar also contains our attempts at writing haiku. Philip and I chose to use the 17 (5-7-5) syllable structure. Please excuse our amateur effort and just enjoy them for what they're worth (they're free :-).
Haiku Links Haiku for People
Jane Reichhold website on haiku
Keiko Imaoka: Forms in English Haiku
Gerald England: How to Write Haiku
AACP's HaikuWhat is new today
The pigeons will never know
Why revel just now?
- Leonard Chan
A sad year passing
Make every breath count
Up Coming EventsHere are some events that AACP will soon be attending. Invite us to your events.
Editor's MessageHappy New Year everyone! It's been awhile since I last wrote to you.
Since last April, I've wanted to have a special poetry newsletter. After having sat in at a poetry reading, I've learned that there are many that are passionate about this form of writing. AACP carries quite a few poetry book titles. In the past, we have not had much demand for our poetry books. This newsletter is our effort to better connect with those that are interested in poetry. In the future, we hope to add a special section to the AACP website listing these titles and including audio readings and text too. Keep reading the newsletter and we'll keep you informed on the poetry section's progress. Give us your feedback on this idea and this newsletter - if you like this newsletter maybe we'll do this again next January.
Thank you Suji Kwock Kim and Steven Tanamachi for allowing us to reprint your material. Steven was an intern with us this past summer. His piece doesn't follow the theme of the month, but we wanted to show you the great work he's now doing for the Nichi Bei Times newspaper. Thank you very much Steven for writing about our organization.
Lunar New Year is January 22. Don't forget to check out our Lunar New Year page. Good health, happiness, and wealth to you all!
Give Us Your FeedbackPlease feel free to send us your reviews, comments, and book suggestions. You can contact us at -
(published Thursday, January 1, 2004 in the Nichi Bei Times)
By STEVEN TANAMACHI
SAN MATEO - Florence Hongo is on a mission to spread the gospel of the Asian American experience. As president of the board and general manager of the Asian American Curriculum Project (AACP), she has crusaded to introduce the word into as many American institutions and homes as possible.
AACP, a nonprofit organization, conducts business from its San Mateo store, where books and other educational materials drip from its shelves and are stacked in boxes along the walls.
Amidst the newspapers and pamphlets in the store is its catalog - an encyclopedic listing of nearly 650 books, with a range of materials from the "A is for Aloha" children's book to Helen Zia's opus on APA history.
AACP's materials are promoted to fulfill the group's mission, which is "To educate the public about the Asian American experience, fostering cultural awareness and to educate Asian Americans about their own heritage, instilling a sense of pride," as stated in the catalog.
Hongo, 75, and other AACP workers pursue this by traveling to various events, such as academic conventions, cultural festivals and various conferences to promote the use of the materials.
"If we weren't at those social studies conferences, those 3,000 teachers would never see a display of Asian American books," Hongo said, while taking a break from work. "They come by and say 'Wow, I didn't know there was this many Asian American books.' And it's a revelation to them."
This led to her recognition of the need for curriculum about Japanese American history. She began to read about the history of the forced relocation of Japanese Americans during the War.
"I was getting very emotional and I couldn't understand what was happening to me," she said. The anger was a reaction to her sudden enlightenment of all the events that had happened during World War II, she said.
"My commitment to what we're doing now came from that experience," Hongo explained. "And it was just like how people talk about being born again and all that sort of thing. It revolutionized me as a person."
She sent letters to schools and notices to newspapers looking for people who would be interested in working on the development of curriculum on Japanese Americans. She received responses from all over the Bay Area, including Berkeley, San Francisco and San Jose residents.
One person who responded was Kathy Reyes, then working in the San Francisco Unified School District as a specialist in Asian American studies.
"At the time of course there was nothing in the textbooks - we're talking about 30 years ago - as far as the experience of Japanese Americans, not even the internment," Reyes recalled.
Another person who responded to the notice was Edison Uno, a well-known activist, born in Los Angeles, who was one of the pioneering proponents of the redress for Japanese Americans incarcerated in concentration camps.
"Japanese Americans: The Untold Story" was a 150-page book that detailed such topics as immigration, the World War II internment, leaders of the community and religion.
It was originally planned to be submitted to the state of California to be considered for use as a supplemental text in schools. Other books written on and by various ethnic communities were to follow.
The book, however, never made its way to the classroom.
"Some people began to speak in opposition of this book," Hongo said. "The first cry that came out was that it was anti-Buddhist."
Reyes recalled that several others were adamantly opposed to the book, alleging that "different groups (within the Japanese American community) were not represented" or that the information on the Buddhist church was not accurate.
Despite declarations by the protesting groups that they would write another book, they never did, Reyes remembered.
Once word spread that the book was causing a stir within the Japanese American community, the project was dropped as was the plan for the distribution of materials on other ethnic groups, Hongo declared, fiercely adding that the Japanese American community "destroyed that book."
"We, as an organization, went through sheer hell during that time," Hongo said, because of the strong backlash they received after trying "to do something for the community."
The results did not cause the organization members to lose faith, but instead, "It really cemented the group," Hongo said. "We were more determined than ever to succeed."
The group continued with its efforts by seeking out books they felt were appropriate to distribute.
The first one they promoted was Yoshiko Uchida's "Journey to Topaz," a story about a child's internment experience at the Topaz concentration camp in Utah.
Hongo explained that Uchida was "fairly well-known, but not among Japanese Americans," and that the distribution of "Journey to Topaz" caused an "awakening" in the community.
The group didn't focus only on books relevant to Japanese Americans, but to other ethnic groups as well.
Reyes recalled that "Vietnamese students were coming in around the mid-'70s and the teachers didn't know how to relate to them. They didn't know the background at all. Anything that we were able to provide for them they were eager to get."
The years of the group's progress would soon be overshadowed by the loss of Uno, who suffered a heart attack and passed away on Dec. 24, 1976 at the age of 47. Hongo remembered him as a "man with a vision" and that his dedication spread to the other members of the group.
Copies of AACP's first book, "Japanese Americans: The Untold Story" - the project to which Uno had dedicated much of his time - were scarce. AACP had no copies of it until Uno's widow, Rosalind Uno, gave the group a stack that she had found in her home.
Today, eight copies, not available for sale, sit on a shelf as relics of the group's controversial inception.
Books that Humanize
On Dec. 5 and 6, Florence Hongo and her husband Mas went to Reno for the Reno Literacy Conference. Three days later, they drove to Santa Cruz for the UCSC Multicultural Book Fair.
Their schedule gets busy, and according to Hongo "it's expensive, but we have to go to as many of those conferences as possible," Hongo said.
While store customers may buy a few books, Hongo said that school districts will buy up to thousands of dollars worth of materials.
She continued, "and that's where we want to see our books - in the libraries so that people will have an opportunity to see the wide range of materials that are available."
In deciding what books to accept for its inventory, the AACP crew actively seeks books and also reviews those sent in for consideration.
"What I really want to see are books that humanize Asian Americans," Hongo said.
She directs special attention to children's books. Hongo sees this genre as particularly critical for the readers, citing a lack of "primary level books that bolster the self image of an Asian American child."
She praised the work of children's authors Allen Say and Laurence Yep.
"There is a whole group of really good Asian American writers now that have their head screwed on straight and write well," she said, also noting the quality of work produced by Ruthanne Lum McCunn, Marlene Shigekawa and Cecilia Manguaerra Brainard.
With the exception of fairy tales, AACP carries only materials about the Asian American experience and not literature from or about life in Asia. One of the reasons behind this, Hongo explained, is to fight the misconceptions that all Asians in the U.S. are immigrants.
In addition, not all the books relative to Asian Americans make their way into the store.
"You'd be amazed," Hongo said. "Even though these people call themselves Asian American artists and Asian American writers - thumping their chests and saying they're doing this for the community - some people are still producing junk. And that kind of stuff I won't touch."
Changes Since Its Genesis
One of the organization's recent endeavors has been getting back into publishing books - its initial venture. AACP published three books in 2003, including "Poston Camp II, Block 211" by Jack Matsuoka, "Building a Community: The Japanese Americans of San Mateo County" by gayle k. yamada and Dianne Fukami, and "Birth of an Activist: The Sox Kitashima Story" by Joy Morimoto and Sox Kitashima.
Florence and Mas Hongo, 83, started a new chapter in their lives when they got married in 1981. Mas Hongo now helps run AACP by managing the finances and shares the same faith in the group's contribution to the "educational process" of the country, he said.
"A lot of times, it's very difficult to stand up and speak up because something might happen to you," he said. "But still you have to have enough guts to stand up and say what you have to say."
Though pilgrimages across the country may get costly, "This is the way you've got to do it," Mas Hongo said. "It's expensive but this is the mission."
Six years ago, another person began to contribute to the group when he walked into the store. Leonard Chan immediately decided he wanted to be a part of the project.
Chan set up the organization's Website and now works on the group's monthly newsletter, which currently has over 350 subscribers (and another 500 website readers) and examines current events relative to the APA community. The November/December issue includes an editorial on a recent speech by President George Bush.
"Some things I feel more passionate about," Chan mused. "I hear something and say 'Hey, people better listen up and hear this. It relates to what we do,' especially in lines with the civil liberties issues of what the organization originally started with."
Chan also oversees the interns and writes grant proposals for AACP. With all the new ideas he has brought to the group, he still feels a nostalgia for the group's initial project.
With AACP's recent publishing endeavors, the organization is in some respects heading back to its roots - a start that led to turmoil within the Japanese American community, but also launched a crusade for many with the vision of a raised consciousness of Asian American history and issues.
As for Florence Hongo's future plans, she doesn't plan on stopping her missionary efforts any time soon.
"As long as I'm still moving I guess I'm going to continue to do what I can," she said.
The following books are discounted for subscribers to our newsletter. The discounts on these books end February 7, 2004.
Notes from the Divided CountryBy Suji Kwock Kim
2003, 74 pages, paperback.
Comment by Edward Hirsch -
To Be the PoetBy Maxine Hong Kingston
2002, 144 pages, hardback.
A manual on inviting poetry, on conjuring the elusive muse, To be the Poet is also a harvest of poems, from charms recollected out of childhood to bursts of eloquence, wonder, and waggish wit along the way to discovering what it is to be a poet.
Haiku Picturebook for ChildrenBy Keisuke Nishimoto
Illustrations by Kozo Shimizu
1998, 32 pages, hardback.
Haiku Picturebook for Children is a wonderful introduction for kids to the art of haiku poetry. Keisuke Mishimoto has chosen poems from some of Japan's most famous masters of haiku and matched it with well known artist Kozo Shimizu's beautiful work to create a truly magnificent book.
Cool Melons - Turn to Frogs!
Story and Haiku Translation by Matthew Gollub
By Him Mark Lai, Genny Lim, and Judy Yung