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The Kitchen of Small Hours

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Derek N. Otsuji

$16.95

Paperback (Other formats: E-book)
978-0-8093-3840-5
96 pages, 6 x 9
10/18/2021

Crab Orchard Series in Poetry

 

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About the Book

Reimagining the elusive American dream
 
In The Kitchen of Small Hours, Derek N. Otsuji embraces the fragility and endurance of a family of immigrants from two prefectures in Japan: Kagoshima in the south and Okinawa, an island more than four hundred miles from the mainland. In these poems, five generations sing, save, scold, bury, and cook against the culture and history that emerged from the pineapple and sugar cane plantations of mid-nineteenth-century Hawaii, from the bomb-scapes and hatreds of World War II, and from the canning and tourism industry of the twentieth century. Otsuji writes of how his family used stories and rugged cheer to fill the spaces apart from the cane fields and the canning factory. Their recipes, rituals, celebrations, songs, dances, myths, and family stories passed from grandmother to father to son, who folds them into lyrics. 
 
Here too are whispers, failures, and traceable absences: a face removed from photos, a love silenced to be acceptable, a dead firstborn housed in an urn. There are things that no one intended to give. Otsuji’s language hungers for them anyway. The haunting reunions between author and ancestor sink just as deep as roots and hold just as fast. The cooking pot, the family photo, the moon recur as images that feed and comfort. Lyrical and warm, Otsuji’s voice sounds out a sinew of words that make the remnants of heritage and home durable. In these poems each new generation seeks to reimagine for itself the elusive American Dream

Authors/Editors

Derek N. Otsuji, an associate professor of English at Honolulu Community College, was awarded the 2019 Tennessee Williams Scholarship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. He received the Editor’s Choice Award for poems published in the fortieth-anniversary issue of Bamboo Ridge, the longest running independent literary journal in Hawaii. His poems have appeared in RhinoMissouri ReviewIndiana ReviewPleiades, and the Threepenny Review.