would always live in my nervous system, a needle with Mama's voice.
"A needle with Mama's voice": this is a striking, resonant, and
paradoxical phrase. If it represents the self-suspicion and the gnawing sense of fear that present the major psychological obstacle to
writing for a female survivor of internment, it also represents a
source of wisdom passed on from the mother, the useful survival
skill of memory. It is a speaking needle, the constant reminder
of a narrative which resists the forces that would silence it, but
which must also acknowledge its own incompleteness, its own suppressions and suturings, its own internal silences. The needle jabs,
but it can also be turned to mending and to creating. For Yamada,
writing, rediscovering, adding to, and publishing "Camp Notes"
meant acknowledging the "needle with Mama's voice" in all its
Lundberg, "The American Literature of War,"386. Subsequent references to this work are included parenthetically in the text.
I am indebted to Kim's important work throughout this essay. Another
widely disseminated analysis of camp writing in print at the time of Lundberg's formulation appears in Chin et al., Aiiieeeee!, xxxiv-xxxvii. See also Yamamoto, "I Still Carry It Around."
Yamada, Camp Notes, 1. Subsequent references to this work are included parenthetically in the text. Yamada's book is named after its central
section; I refer to that section as "Camp Notes" and to the volume as a
whole as Camp Notes.
Yamada, "Invisibility,"36. Subsequent references to this work are included parenthetically in the text.
See the discussion of Mori in Kim, Asian American Literature, 163-
I take this phrase from Gerachty's report, National Fictions, on the 1983 British Film Institute Summer School, whose subject was "Struggles
over the Meaning of World War Two."
Kuhn, "'Desert Victory,'"58.
See Kim, Asian American Literature, 18-22, 59-60, 73-74.
One chapter in my forthcoming book A Gulf So Deeply Cut traces in
detail the conditions that shaped, hindered, and permitted women's writing
in the camps and offers an expanded and reconsidered analysis of Yamada's
camp poems along with the work of other Japanese-American women poets
of the period.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Arms and the Woman:War, Gender, and Literary Representation.
Contributors: Helen M. Cooper - Editor, Adrienne Auslander Munich - Editor, Susan Merrill Squier - Editor.
Publisher: University of North Carolina Press.
Place of publication: Chapel Hill, NC.
Publication year: 1989.
Page number: 241.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may
not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.