Coming from Beacon Press on October 4, 2022, the first major poetry collection from an award-winning student of Robert Pinsky, exploring the inherited trauma within his Japanese American family, his life as an artist, and his bond with his wife. Now available for preorder at Beacon Press, Indiebound, Barnes & Noble, Bookshop.org, and Amazon.
In 65 lyric poems organized into a triptych, Common Grace offers an important new lens into Asian American life, art, and love.
Part 1, “Soul Sauce,” describes the poet’s life as a practicing visual artist, taking us from an early encounter with an inkwell at Roseland Elementary in 1969 to his professional outdoor easel perched on Long Island Sound.
Part 2, “Ubasute,” is named after the mythical Japanese practice wherein “a grown son lifts / his aged mother on his back, / delivers her to a mountain, / leaves her to die.” This concept frames a wrenching portrayal of his parents’ decline and death, reaching back to his father’s time in the American internment camps of WWII and his mother’s memories of the firebombing of Tokyo. It also anchors the two outer parts in the racial trauma and joys passed down from his parents.
Part 3, “Gutter Trees,” gives us affecting love poems to his wife and the creative lives they’ve built together.
Ranging in scope from private moments to the sweep of familial heritage, Caycedo-Kimura’s poems are artful, subtle, but never quiet.
Ubasute won the 2020 Slapering Hol Press Chapbook Competition and can be purchased directly from Slapering Hol Press.
“At the lucid depths of loss, as elemental as the Greek tragedies but on a personal scale and in an even tone of voice, Aaron Caycedo- Kimura’s poems in Ubasute are detailed, elegiac meditations within a particular American family. This compact, artful book evokes the eternal rhythms of grief and memory, loss and gratitude, including the evil of internment camps and the dignity of a suburban garden. Here is the restorative clarity of art.” —Robert Pinsky
“In Japanese folklore, ubasute is the act of carrying an elderly parent up a mountain and leaving the person there to die. In Aaron Caycedo- Kimura’s beautiful, moving debut collection, Ubasute, the poet carries his mother and father out of memory and onto the page, but he does not set them down or let them go. He holds his parents close so we can see and hear them—as a boy in an American concentration camp, as a girl surviving the firebombing of Tokyo, as newlyweds, suburban parents, and too soon a dying father, a widow slipping away. In these clear-eyed, open-hearted, unforgettable poems, Caycedo-Kimura invites us to join him as he walks once more behind his aging parents ‘with an outstretched arm / as if to give a blessing.'” —Matthew Thorburn
Ubasute can also be purchased in a box set here along with two other award-winning chapbooks: The Scottish Cafe by Susana H. Case and They Become Stars by Liz Marlow.