Art and Culture

On Watching A Song for Ourselves: Chris Iijima

"A Song for Ourselves" (2009) by Tad Nakamura portrays the inspiring and poignant life of Chris Iijima. Iijima was a member of Yellow Pearl (along with Joanne Miyamoto and later Charlie Chin), a folk group that were troubadours for the early Asian American Movement. The group was based in New York and were particularly important for East Coast activists, who saw so few Asian American bands. Much of the poignancy of the film came from Chris' premature passing due to a rare disease and a defiant last interview even as he faced mortality.


Todd Lee

Ping Wong did not want to get up this morning.

But her feet were so sore
last night, she did not go out.
So here she is, as she is every Monday night or Tuesday morning,
picking up bottles, sorting through cans, trying
to make a living. Even though
her back hurts from the bending, she has
done harder work, she has done whatever it took
to feed her family, and then
to feed herself.
She likes the
night picking better, the people don’t yell
so much when she opens the bags.

Taiko #1

For Odaiko New England

Todd Lee

Boom da-da BOOM!
Boom da-da BOOM!
Boom da-da boom da-da

Rumble of thunder
pulling you under,
over and over and over again.

Boom da-da BOOM!
Boom da-da BOOM!

Sway, yeah, sway
Pray, yeah, pray

Boom da-da BOOM!
Sticks point to the sky!
Boom da-da BOOM!
We all want to fly!


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