Throughout my life I’ve had many questions about the body, our boundaries, where we begin and end—physically and energetically. Many of the poems in my book Pier grapple with these questions and my experiences after the early death of my mother.
Pier was the winner of the 2010 Kundiman Poetry Prize. After the publication of Pier, I was awarded the 2011 Elliot Cades Award for Literature for an emerging writer in Hawai’i and the 2013 Asian American Literary Award for poetry.
While poetry continues to be my love, I’m currently working on a series of short essays on childhood, adulthood, and other mysteries—in my quest to understand what it means to be a grownup.
“As if through an echolocation of brilliant and insistent off-rhyme, these poems effect a delicate placement of self into body, body into world, world into word. And at the center of it all is even more delicate loss. Oshiro’s Pier takes its measure in precise instances that ache with intelligence. A truly masterful first book.”
“Who can whisper in the spare dark and still be heard in the greater stillness? Only a poet who bets everything on spirit and the ability of language to outline that spirit. In prose honed to home and verse like stones skipping on the surface of water, who can tell where this wonderfully quiet and haunting book will lead? Not where you would ever think: “Everywhere is a potential/exit, except the door.” In a virtuosic range of approaches to line, image and poem, Janine Oshiro makes a unique new music.”
“The poems in Pier refuse to privilege poetic craft over intensity of feeling, landscape over interiority, the mundane over the fabular, stoicism over grief. Instead, they have it all–or rather, they emerge from the spaces between contending states: ‘It came out in a child’s hand and I was/ not a child.’ Oshiro’s is a new voice of antique resonances, born of an anxious apprenticeship to beauty and to pain.”