Lawson Fusao Inada was born in Fresno, California. His father was a dentist and his mother a teacher. In 1942, at the age of four, he was interned with his parents and grandparents in a series of camps in California, Arkansas, and Colorado. After the war he returned to Fresno, eventually attending Fresno State University, where he studied poetry with Philip Levine. He continued his studies at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and completed his MFA at the University of Oregon. From 2006 to 2010 he was Oregon’s Poet Laureate.
A fine performer of his own poetry, often in concert with a jazz combo, Inada has published Before the War: poems as they happened (1971), Legends from Camp (1993), an American Book Award winner, and Drawing the Line (1997). He is the editor of two anthologies of Chinese American and Japanese American literature: Aiiieeeee! (1983) and The Big Aiiieeeee! (1991). He is also the editor of only what we could carry: The Japanese Internment Experience (2000). He met his wife Janet at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. They have two sons.
Recognizing the need for poetry in our lives, the Oregon Poetic Voices Project (OPV) has begun to create a comprehensive digital archive of poetry readings that will complement existing print collections of poetry across the state.
"We each carry lines of poetry with us. Words that others have written float back to us and stay with us, indelibly. We clutch these "life lines" like totems, repeat them as mantras, and summon them for comfort and laughter."
-Academy of American Poets