Mother daughter poets, Mary & Aja Oishi, read from their new Swimming With Elephants collection, Rock Paper Scissors.
“…this collection carries both the beauty of human resilience and the searing pain of postatomic burning carnage. The poetry, like hope, is an obstinate and sturdy survivor, for ‘what could i do but write songs.’ These verses often push the envelope, asking questions that make more sense than our grammar. ‘are you out there in the stealth night on the edge of blue? listening/ are you loving me for sending you this fix of heartbreak/ slid down metal, taut and wound. electric. are you?’ …haunting, resonant odes and the rhythmic power of promises and truth, poems spread across Hiroshima and Barcelona, Laos and Albuquerque. These poems bring the world into a familial embrace, but spit out the naked power of truth, both personal and political, as if it were a well-chewed chicken bone, gnawed raw. Through it all, this mother-daughter poetic duo reminds us that, in the beauty of human hope, ‘nothing sacred can be lost.’”--Carmen Tafolla, State Poet Laureate of Texas
Mary Oishi has two poetic voices: one stark and simple like that of her Japanese ancestors, and one that echoes the rhythms of preachers from her upbringing by her American father’s fundamentalist relatives. Both voices sing her songs of truth and social justice. She is the author of Spirit Birds They Told Me (2011) and is one of twelve U.S. poets in 12 Poetas: Antologia De Nuevos Poetas Estadounidenses (2017), a project of the Mexican Ministry of Culture. Her poems have appeared in Mas Tequila Review, Malpais Review, Harwood Anthology, Sinister Wisdom, and other print and digital publications. Oishi is a public radio personality since 1996, most at KUNM-FM Albuquerque, where she hosts The Blues Show.
Aja Oishi lives in northern New Mexico. Her writing draws from ecology, anthropology, and the years she spent in Spain, Japan, and New Zealand. She revels in the uncaged world and makes a living (and a life) by fighting for prisoners as an appellate public defender. This is her first collection of poetry.