Tokyo Weekender’s series TW Creatives features various works by Japan-based writers, photographers, videographers, illustrators and other creatives in a bid to provide one additional platform for them to exhibit their talent. The works submitted here belong entirely to the creators. Tokyo Weekender only takes pride in being one of their most passionate supporters. This time, we introduce a few works by Kanazawa-based poet Michael Frazier. Here is what he had to say about his themes and inspiration.
“I write about how I experience the world as an African American man,” says Frazier. “I write about birds and bubble tea. Acne scars and oyakodon. Anime and Korean R’n’B. Hip hop and lo-fi. The music of AAVE (African-American Vernacular English). The delicious silence of ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response). New York, Florida, Ohio, London, Kanazawa — all places I’ve called home. The domestic home as a microcosm of the political world.
“I write about my family, my upbringing and especially my mother, my spiritual partner. I write about the history and power of prayer. Freedom from addiction(s). Freedom from death and those who want me and people who look, love and think like me to die. I write about the source of freedom: the gentle, yet certain, whisper of God within me. He leads, teaches and comforts me. My goal is to believe him when he says ‘I have wings.'”
Mother & Son as Oyakodon
I pour the trinity
into the frying pan: dashi,
mirin, soy sauce set to simmer.
Mom says, Mmm that sure smells good. I ask,
How you smell my cookin through the phone?
You want me to overnight you a bowl from Japan? She go,
Boy, since when you got overnight money? Besides,
I don’t want no cold bird, soggy egg, stale rice. And we both
laugh. Louder than the chicken singin’ in the pan.
Than the bubble and pop of egg fusing to bird like new skin.
My rice cooker rings ding dong, mom asks, who you got comin’ over?
Who you givin’ my plate to? You know I never had a hot meal
while y’all was kids: always warmin somethin up always last to eat always—
I’ve heard this before, but I don’t interrupt. We FaceTime
and my first attempt at oyakodon is a little dry. Don’t choke,
she laughs. I spill rice on my lap. I’m 24 and still got a hole
in my lip. Mom starts, Tell me why…
and she stories
I listen, I chew
each bite, slow
Blood Don’t Mean Stay is a poem by Michael Frazier adapted into a short film by Pulkit Datta as part of the Visible Poetry Project. Watch below:
About the Author
Michael Frazier is a poet, performer and educator living in central Japan. He graduated from Gallatin at New York University, where he was the 2017 poet commencement speaker. He’s performed at Nuyorican Poets Café, Lincoln Center, Gallatin Arts Festival and other venues. His poetry and prose appear, or are forthcoming, in Poetry Daily, The Offing, Cream City Review, RHINO, Visible Poetry Project, Tokyo Poetry Journal, POETRY, MadeforPax and elsewhere. His poetry has been honored with Tinderbox’s 2020 Brett Elizabeth Jenkins Poetry Prize, the Pushcart Prize and Best New Poets nominations.
Want to be featured next? Reach out to us at [email protected]