Where I Was Born by Naoko Fujimoto
“Naoko Fujimoto’s sensuous poems in Where I Was Born speak to the ‘Death of little things,’ the griefs that accumulate inside families, across ordinary days, in the course of living regular lives. Thus the title points not only to a place, but to a condition, one in which the speaker must learn to accommodate loss—of birth country, of parents and grandparents, of unborn children, of time and opportunities, of dreams, of body parts, of voices, of names, of maps, and of the trail of breadcrumbs that might lead us out of the woods. In these brilliant and often-clipped lines, the world is unreal and unreliable: ‘There is / an extra season of endless fields. / The postcard fell from the refrigerator.’ The poet invites questions, searching for some sort of definite knowledge: ‘Did someone jump? . . . . Will I go to war? . . . . Can you sleep with Grandfather’s bones? . . . . Wanna die? . . . . ‘Keep digging for what?’ . . . . What did you expect?’ Yet this speaker does not give up on the world, even when the answers are distant and hard to see: ‘I squinted my eyes / as a satellite would look for new life.’ This is a beautiful and necessary book.
~ Linda Dove, author of Fearn, This Too and In Defense of Objects
“What does it mean when death is so present in the landscape of life that one’s mind moves swiftly from the passing of a great-grandparent to the smell of the neighbor’s grilled food and thoughts of hunger? What does it mean when loss is so integral to life that one pauses to think of a lover or licks tangerine juice from one’s fingertips while comforting an ailing family member? Fujimoto’s book engages these questions as she takes us through a landscape of continual loss. The loss of one culture for another, the loss of sanity and health brought on by illness and war, and the loss of illusions and passions that come when the outer facts of life do not join up with inner longings. In her delicate and unassuming style, Fujimoto records the small, daily moments of family life, wherein so much pain is born out of so much love. Her playful, emotionally keen and contemplative book Where I Was Born is one to be read and held close to the heart.”
~Dara Elerath, published author, American Poetry Review
“Where I Was Born, Naoko Fujimoto’s disarmingly honest first full-length poetry collection, is a sensorial feast. Leaving no stone unturned, Fujimoto trains one observant inner eye on family—examining losses and loves that resonate with each of us, even as they remain uniquely her own—while keeping another eye on history’s long shadow across generations. Hiroshima, the marble from a Ramune soda bottle, and Japanese calligraphy collide with Lake Michigan, Dove soap, and an apartment in Lawrenceville, Illinois—alchemizing a poetry both global and personal that is riveting, musical, and iridescent as ‘the silver sheen of snails after June rain.'”~Angela Narciso Torres, author of Blood Orange