Thursday, January 29, 2015

Interviewing Norman Mineta

This picture was taken for the newspaper. I think, but I don't know the photographer. Kiyoko had.this copy. Kiyoko and Kiyoshi are at the center. See how she is writing? Since Kiyoshi was profoundly deaf, Kiyoko included him in everything by writing down all that was happening. Sometimes she just traced characters in his hand. Once, at a haiku meeting, she had to leave early and she gave me my instructions; I was to write down everything for Mr. Tokutomi. I wrote in English, of course, and on paper. It was a discussion meeting and various people talked. By the time the meeting was over, I was exhausted! This job had required a greater level of focus and concentration than other meetings. One could not drift! 

It pleases me to see the Sumitomo sign, because then I remember that for a long time, we held the monthly Yuki Teikei meeting in the upstairs conference room at the Sumitomo Bank Building in downtown San Jose. I wrote my first few haiku at meetings in that room. Out of the window I could see a traffic sign that said: LEFT LANE MUST TURN LEFT. It was a perfect five-syllable line; I used it in one of my very first haiku! 

To get back to the picture: at the left is Norman Mineta, mayor of San Jose (and later Congressman and U.S. Secretary of Transportation.) I wish I knew who the man at the right was.
The Tokutomis were probably interviewing Mr. Mineta for the Japanese language newspaper in San Jose. They used to write articles for this paper.

Look carefully at Kiyoko's face to see her focus and concentration! She didn't do anything halfway!

I keep on writing
a letter to my mother
by autumn lamplight

Kiyoko Tokutomi

Kiyoko's Sky; the haiku of Kiyoko Tokutomi
translated by Fay Aoyagi and Patricia J, Machmiller
Brooks Books, 2002, page 31

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