This website is the companion to a book of poems, and together they are a hybrid of poetry and digital art. The poems erase historical documents related to the development and aftermath of the Pacific War, especially on the island of Okinawa.
As you move your finger (on a touchscreen device) or a mouse (on a conventional computer) from line to line of the poem, the original document’s erased text will reappear, then fade out again. Each poem’s original document can be reached through a link at the bottom of the poem’s page.
Okinawa’s 20th-century history is one of colonization and intense militarization, by both Japanese and U.S. forces. I grew up there, on Kadena Air Base, where my mother taught middle-school English to the children of American servicemembers. Our neighborhood on base looked a lot like a Californian suburb.
How did a military base in a foreign country 7000 miles away from our previous home in Texas seem to my mother like a good, safe place to raise a child after her divorce? Why were there so many other American families, living in such well-developed suburban infrastructure, on Okinawa 50 years after U.S. soldiers first arrived there during the Pacific War? Who paid, and who is still paying, for my sense of safety there, and in what currency? This book grew out of those questions.
This book is published by Drunken Boat Media. The online journal Drunken Boat has been a home for hybrid, online, and digital poetry since 1999. I’m grateful to Forrest Gander for selecting this manuscript as the winner of the inaugural Drunken Boat Poetry Book Contest, and to everyone at Drunken Boat for their vision, their support of this project, and their work to encourage and promote unconventional poetry.