From the Archives / On Family Lines

This month’s selected clippings from the archive, guest curated by Fred Wah, contemplate and implicate a similar ocean of diasporic anxieties about family, chosen or otherwise.  

Roy Kiyooka’s photoglyphic meditation on his mother, Pacific Windows, provokes a conversation with Fred Wah’s five father poems from Breathin’ My Name with a Sigh, Oki Sogumi’s three-part Motherships poem, and a selection from Mercedes Eng’s prison industrial complex explodes. 

Read all four works below (and with thanks to Fred Wah for this selection):

Roy Kiyooka

Pacific Windows
from Issue 2.3 (Fall 1990): Pacific Windows

Pacific Windows is dedicated to Kiyo Oe, my mother, and my three daughters, Mariko, Fumi, and Kiyo.

August 31, 1990 Midnight

Fred Wah

Five Poems excerpted from Breathin’ My Name with a Sigh
from Issue 1.2 (1980) 

my father hurt-
ing at the table
sitting hurting
at suppertime
deep inside very
far down inside
because I can’t stand the ginger
in the beef and greens
he cooked for us tonight
and years later tonight
that look on his face
appears now on mine
my children
my food
their food
my father
their father
me mine
the father
very far
very very far

Oki Sogumi

from Issue 3.3 (Fall 2016)

III. Korean Air

She loves the seaweed soup they serve
on board, for an airplane, she qualifies
She frowns at the K-drama playing
“so unrealistic, that they end up with three children.”
The big P and little h of Fantasy
pops from her,w/joyful disdain
She has three children
She pours oil from a packet into the 
swirl of hot water

Mercedes Eng

prison industrial complex explodes
from Issue 3.28 (Winter 2016)

my dad is inside when I am born. after I come out we live in Vancouver a bit then move to Abbotsford to be closer to the prison. we visit almost every weekend, both days, 8 hours a day. 

he gets out when I’m 2, but goes back because later I remember my mom saying I have a surprise for you and I think it’s a record player, but it’s my dad behind the door, home from jail. so he went somewhere between 2 and 7, somewhere with dinosaurs and a bumpy gravel road.


Never miss an issue

Get a subscription to three issues per year. Cancel anytime.

Donate to TCR

Support one of Canada's longest-standing publishers of contemporary writing and art

Advertise in TCR

Download our media kit to find pricing and specifications