My first full-length book, "Where I Was Born", will be available from Willow Books. If you would like to own a copy, please pre-order. The discount code for the store is BORN (you will save about $2). Thank you very much for supporting my poetry and art.
Dara Elerath, MFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts
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.
Linda Dove, Author of This Too, O Dear Deer, and In Defense of Objects
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 brillliant 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.
Angela Narciso Torres, author of Blood Orange
“I squinted my eyes as a satellite would look for new life,” says the speaker in Where I Was Born, Naoko Fujimoto’s disarmingly honest first full-length poetry collection. Indeed, the poet leaves no stone unturned. In this sumptuous sensory feast, Fujimoto trains one observant eye on family—examining losses and loves that resonate with each of us, even as they remain uniquely her own—while keeping another watchful eye on history’s long shadow across generations. Hiroshima, the marble from a Ramune soda bottle, and a grandmother’s Japanese calligraphy collide with Lake Michigan, Dove soap, and a couple’s first apartment in Lawrenceville, Illinois—alchemizing a global poetry that is as riveting, musical, and iridescent as “the silver sheen of snails after June rain.”
Cover Art by Minami Kobayashi
I had a graphic poetry workshop at Woodbury University where students brought poems in text and then transformed them into graphic poems. David B. Newell wrote an article about my visit and project. Please visit: MORIA.