Starting this month KUOW is celebrating local poetry with a series called #NewsPoet.
A Pacific Northwest poet writes an original piece inspired by a KUOW news story. This week we hear from Kingston-based poet Kelli Russel Agodon.
Her poem, “In Praise of Oysters,” was inspired by a story we did about a Japanese immigrant family that saved Pacific oysters in the early 1900s.
"In Praise of Oysters"
for the Yamashita family
In praise of oysters, of a family
replanting the tidelands, in praise
of strength, It gives me great pleasure
to be able to share what we have,
in praise of boats, wooden boxes
of seeds, straw and rice mats.
He imported pearls from Japan at one time,
cities built from shells, mother-of, father-of
community, in praise of staying,
in replenishing what was overharvested,
what pollution stole.
There’s nothing better
than oysters—I hear echoes
in the shoreline. How to live optimistically
in a country of internment camps, a grandfather
sent to Montana, a family forced to California,
it was challenging, but at the same time,
there were very kind people. Praise Masahide
and the renamed Pacific oyster, to be a gem
in a nation of rough tides—praise
the family and the thousands of seeds
to shellfish farmers, to make the shorelines glisten,
to always share what we have.