Inada became a jazz musician, and this affected his writing. Inada cites jazz and his time in the internment camps as his chief influences as a poet. He studied writing at the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Oregon, and the University of Iowa.
He joined the faculty of Southern Oregon University in 1966.
- With new hope.
- We build new lives.
- Why complain when it rains?
- This is what it means to be free.
- -- Lawson Inada, Japanese American Historical Plaza, Portland, Oregon
- Three Northwest Poets: Drake, Inada, Lawder, Madison: Quixote Press, 1970.
- Before the War; Poems as They Happened, New York: Morrow, 1971.
- Aiiieeeee! An Anthology of Asian-American Writers, Washington, DC: Howard University Press, 1974 (Coeditor).
- The Buddha Bandits Down Highway 99, Mountain View: Buddhahead Press, 1978 (With Garrett Kaoru Hongo and Alan Chong Lau).
- The Big Aiiieeeee!: An Anthology of Chinese American and Japanese American Literature, New York: Penguin, 1990 (Coeditor).
- Legends From Camp, Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 1993. Winner, American Book Award. Finalist, Los Angeles Times Book Award for Poetry.
- In This Great Land of Freedom: The Japanese Pioneers of Oregon, Los Angeles: Japanese American National Museum, 1993 (Contributor).
- Touching the Stones: Tracing One Hundred Years of Japanese American History, Portland: Oregon Nikkei Endowment, 1994 (Contributor).
- Just Intonations, Ashland, Oregon: Graven Images Gallery Press, 1996.
- Drawing the Line, Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 1997. Winner, Oregon Book Award for Poetry. A New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age.
- Only What We Could Carry: The Japanese American Internment Experience, Berkeley: Heyday Books, 2000 (Editor and author of introduction).
- Unfinished Message: Selected Works of Toshio Mori, Berkeley: Heyday Books, 2000 (Author of introduction).
- A Matter of Conscience: Essays on the World War II Heart Mountain Draft Resistance Movement. Powell, Wyoming: Western History Publications, 2002 (Contributor).
- "Lawson Fusao Inada". WritersOnTheEdge.org. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-07-06.
- "Lason Inada". Houghton-Mifflin. Retrieved 2007-07-06.
- "Lawson Fusao Inada Biography". enotes.com. Retrieved 2007-07-06.
- "Oregon State Poet Laureate". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2007-07-06.
- Baker, Jeff (February 18, 2006). "From internment camp to new poet laureate". The Oregonian. pp. C01.
- Leonard, George. (1999). The Asian Pacific American Heritage: A Companion to Literature and Arts. London: Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-0-8153-2980-0
- Niiya, Brian. (1993). Japanese American History: An A-to-Z Reference from 1868 to the Present. New York: Facts on File; Bonn: Verlag für die Deutsche Wirtschaft AG. ISBN 978-0-8160-2680-7 OCLC: 26853950