PNW Asian American and Pacific Islander Authors

Image of Tweet from Nicole Chung: work by Asian American writers is always timely

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage month, but as author Nicole Chung noted, “work by Asian American writers is always timely.” The library has created some fantastic lists celebrating Asian American writers and artists for all ages to explore, but I wanted to call attention to some Pacific Northwest Asian American and Pacific Islander authors and books to explore this May and beyond.

Book cover image for My Forgotten Seattle

Current Library Board member Ron Chew served as the editor for the International Examiner, the Asian American community paper, for more than a decade, but as Carey Quan Gelernter says in the introduction to Chew’s memoir, My Unforgotten Seattle, when asked 25-years-prior whether Gelernter could write a profile on him Chew was reticent: “He protested that he wasn’t interesting, or important, enough.” Thank goodness Chew later consented to be interviewed, mainly out of his commitment to sharing the good work of the Wing Luke Museum. We are all the more fortunate that years later Chew decided to pen a memoir imparting the depth of knowledge he had to share on his years as an activist and storyteller in Seattle. My Unforgotten Seattle is steeped in history and a deep connection with the Asian American community whose lives and stories Chew reveals with appreciation and care. Continue reading “PNW Asian American and Pacific Islander Authors”

Washington’s Undiscovered Feminists with Mayumi Tsutakawa

On Dec. 5th, the Seattle Public Library presents a virtual program, Washington’s Undiscovered Feminists with Mayumi Tsutakawa, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. It is about five woman warriors of the Pacific Northwest: pioneering photographer Imogen Cunningham; Black American jazz musician Ruby Bishop; Chinese American artist Priscilla Chong Jue; Leftist journalist Anna Louise Strong; and Native American linguist Vi Hilbert. Here are some books from the library to learn and explore about each warrior or the field where the warriors pioneered.

Imogen Cunningham (1883-1976) specialized in plant photography. Richard Lorenz’s book Imogen Cunningham: Flora presents a selection of her botanical images, from simple flower arrangements to elaborate compositions of ferns and lilies.

The Blue Note by David Keller focused on Seattle’s black American Federation of Musicians’ Local 493. It is an upbeat story of race, jazz, gender, and union culture spanning the years from the 1880’s to the mid-1950’s. Ruby Bishop’s brother was an agent for Local 493, the black musicians’ union.  Jackson Street After Hours by Paul De Barros provides a detailed description of the vibrant Central District music scene that led up to the funk and soul clubs described in the documentary Wheedle’s Groove. Continue reading “Washington’s Undiscovered Feminists with Mayumi Tsutakawa”

Dysfunctional Holidays

I don’t know about you, but for me this has been a very, very long year.  Between Covid-19, the election, and the Black Lives Matter Movement there has been a lot of family tension.  With the holidays coming up it makes it even harder to think of those family dynamics coming into play.  While quarantine has given us the opportunity to have that distance this is also a time to come together and reconcile with family, if you so choose.

Whether you decide to continue a relationship with your family or whether it is time to cut it off – only you know what is right for you. Here are a few books that have been gathered to help make those important decisions.

When Difficult Relatives Happen to Good People: Surviving your Family and Keeping Your Sanity by Leonard Felder

This book is about accepting the fact that things are as they are and ways to cope and reframe how you view toxic relatives. Using that family time to create heartfelt connections, while being aware that there are difficult relatives and it Continue reading “Dysfunctional Holidays”

Unmuted Spotlights the Connective Power of Personal Storytelling

Seattle-based memoir author and writing coach Ingrid Ricks recently led a personal storywriting workshop for LGBTQIA seniors and their allies at Seattle’s GenPRIDE center. The workshop built a community of writers and generated an intriguing anthology of fourteen stories entitled Unmuted: Stories of Courage and Resilience from the GenPRIDE Community, released in October to celebrate LGBTQIA History Month. Join us at 6:30 p.m. on Wed. Nov. 18 for readings from Unmuted Stories. Recently, Ricks shared her thoughts with us here on the publication:

I know it sounds simplistic, but I’m convinced that personal storytelling is the key to world peace.

It was the community-building power of personal narrative — along with its ability to foster healing and empathy in today’s deeply-divided world — that excited me most about partnering with GenPRIDE Executive Director, Steven Knipp, to spearhead its ongoing writing workshop.

Our stories humanize us, connect us, heal us. I’ve seen this play out thousands of times with students of every age, and I witnessed the transformative power of personal storytelling once again this past year in working with the GenPRIDE community.

Though united under the LGBTQIA+ umbrella, the strangers who gathered for the first GenPRIDE writing workshop couldn’t have appeared more different. What did a middle-aged black man have in common with a white transgender woman in her 70’s? What did a retired lesbian English teacher have in common with a gay man struggling to live with AIDS? What did I, a white straight woman, have in common with the LGBTQIA+ community? Our stories. Continue reading “Unmuted Spotlights the Connective Power of Personal Storytelling”

Three on a Theme: Seattle Writers

Every fall, as the rains return, we are reacquainted with the knowledge of where exactly on Earth we are. Autumn in Seattle can be gloomy and hard to survive emotionally, but it is also an experience that can be enhanced by delving into the cultural history and storytelling of the specific place we are in. To that end, here are three books by Pacific Northwest writers that either take place in Seattle or in the surrounding area that are perfect for reading indoors in the middle of one of our infamous October downpours.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie FordHotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

When a boy discovers a time capsule of old treasures in an old hotel room in Seattle’s International District, he is launched into the heart-wrenching story that takes a look at the history of Japanese Internment in Washington State. This is historical fiction, and it is also the story of the relationship between twelve-year-old Chinese-American Henry Lee and his first love, a Japanese-American girl named Keiko Okabe. Aside from its engaging love story and its critical engagement with this uncomfortable legacy of racism in Seattle’s past, it also features real Seattle locations such as the Panama Hotel Continue reading “Three on a Theme: Seattle Writers”