A sansei (a third-generation Japanese American), Lonny Kaneko was born in 1939 in Seattle, Washington. At the outbreak of World War II, the family was first sent to an assembly center in Puyallup, Washington, and then to the Hunt Relocation Center (a.k.a. Minidoka Relocation Center) in Idaho. His poems and short stories are shaped by his internment camp experience; he published a collection of poems titled Coming Home from Camp and his masterpiece, a short story titled “The Shoyu Kid, ” set in Minidoka Camp.
Kaneko studied under Theodore Roethke and received an M.A. in English from the University of Washington in 1963. His thesis was titled “Catchcan of Chicken Feathers in an Old Roost, ” a collection of poems. In 1974, a whimsical short story, “The Wife and the Kappa, ” was published in Playboy. He was a recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in 1982, which resulted in his publication of Coming Home from Camp in 1986. In 1999, he published a short story, “Old Lady, ” in the Seattle Review. With playwright Amy Sanbo, he wrote two plays, Lady Is Dying and Benny Hana. Lady Is Dying won the Henry Broderick Playwright Prize at the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference and was performed at the Asian American Theatre Workshop in 1977. He is also the recipient of a fiction prize from Amerasia Journal. Currently, Kaneko teaches English at Highline Community College in Washington.
Despite the fact that Kaneko considers himself first a teacher and second a poet, not a short story writer, he is known for his short story, “The Shoyu