Lawson Inada

American poet

Lawson Fusao Inada (born 1938 in Fresno, California) is an American poet and was the fifth poet laureate of the U.S. state of Oregon.

Early lifeEdit

Inada is a third-generation Japanese American (Sansei). As a child, Inada and his family were interned during World War II.[1]

Inada became a jazz musician, and this affected his writing.[1] Inada cites jazz and his time in the internment camps as his chief influences as a poet.[2] He studied writing at the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Oregon, and the University of Iowa.[3]


He joined the faculty of Southern Oregon University in 1966.

In 1994, Inada's Legends from Camp won an American Book Award; and he was awarded poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.[3]

In 2006 Inada was named Oregon's poet laureate.[4][5]


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

Select worksEdit

  • 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).


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Lawson Fusao Inada". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-07-06.
  2. "Lason Inada". Houghton-Mifflin. Retrieved 2007-07-06.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Lawson Fusao Inada Biography". Retrieved 2007-07-06.
  4. "Oregon State Poet Laureate". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2007-07-06.
  5. Baker, Jeff (February 18, 2006). "From internment camp to new poet laureate". The Oregonian. pp. C01.

Further readingEdit

Other websitesEdit