Lawson Fusao Inada

Lawson Fusao Inada. Courtesy Asian Improv.

Lawson Fusao Inada (born 1938) is an American poet and academic, who served as poet laureate of the U.S. state of Oregon.


Inada is a 3rd-generation Japanese-American (Sansei), born in Fresno, California. When he was 4 years old, Inada and his family were interned for the duration of World War II at camps in Fresno, Arkansas, and Colorado.[1]

Following the war, Inada became a jazz musician, a bassist, following the work of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Billie Holiday, to whom he would later write tributes in his works.[1] Inada cites jazz and his time in the internment camps as his chief influences as a poet.[2]

He studied writing at the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Oregon, and the University of Iowa.[3]

He began teaching poetry at Southern Oregon University in 1966.


With new hope.
We build new lives.
Why complain when it rains?
This is what it means to be free.
-- Lawson Inada, Japanese American Historical Plaza, Portland, Oregon


In 1994, Inada's Legends from Camp: Poems won an American Book Award.

He has received several poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.[3] He also won the 1997 Stafford / Hall Award for Poetry.

In 2006 Inada was named Oregon's 5th poet laureate, the first person to fill the position since William Stafford in 1989.[4][5] He was succeeded by Paulann Petersen in 2010.[6]



  • Three Northwest Poets: Lawson Inada, Doug Lawder, Albert Drake (edited by Ralph Salisbury). Madison, WI: Quixote Press, 1970.
  • Before the War: Poems as they happened, New York: Morrow, 1971.
  • The Buddha Bandits Down Highway 99 (by Garrett Kaoru Hongo, Alan Chong Lau, & Lawson Fusao Inada). Mountain View, CA: Buddhahead, 1978.
  • Legends From Camp: Poems. Minneapolis, MN: Coffee House Press, 1993.
  • Just Intonations (illustrated by Robert Kostka). Ashland, OR: Graven Images Gallery Press, 1996.
  • Drawing the Line, Minneapolis, MN: Coffee House Press, 1997.


  • In This Great Land of Freedom: The Japanese Pioneers of Oregon (contributor). Los Angeles, CA: Japanese American National Museum, 1993.
  • Touching the Stones: Tracing One Hundred Years of Japanese American History (contribuotor). Portland: Oregon Nikkei Endowment, 1994.
  • Introduction to Unfinished Message: Selected works of Toshio Mori. Berkeley, CA: Heyday Books, 2000.
  • A Matter of Conscience: Essays on the World War II Heart Mountain Draft Resistance Movement (contributor). Powell, WY: Western History Publications, 2002.


  • Aiiieeeee! An anthology of Asian-American writers (edited with Frank Chin, Jeffery Paul Chan, & Shawn Wong). Washington, DC: Howard University Press, 1974.
  • The Big Aiiieeeee!: An anthology of Chinese American and Japanese American literature (edited with Frank Chin, Jeffery Paul Chan, & Shawn Wong). New York: Penguin, 1990.
  • Only What We Could Carry: The Japanese American internment experience. Berkeley, CA: Heyday Books / San Francisco: California Historical Society, 2000.

Poet Lawson Inada

Poet Lawson Inada

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[7]

Audio / videoEdit

  • What It Means to Be Free: Japanese-American internment and poetry (DVD). Ashland, OR: TTTP Productions, 2004.[7]

See alsoEdit

Preceded by
William Stafford
Oregon Poet Laureate
Succeeded by
Paulann Peterson


A Japanese Folk Suite, by Greg Steinke, words by Lawson Fusao Inada

A Japanese Folk Suite, by Greg Steinke, words by Lawson Fusao Inada


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Lawson Fusao Inada". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-07-06. 
  2. "Lason Inada". Houghton-Mifflin. Retrieved 2007-07-06. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Lawson Fusao Inada Biography". Retrieved 2007-07-06. 
  4. "Oregon State Poet Laureate". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2007-07-06. 
  5. Baker, Jeff (February 18, 2006). "From internment camp to new poet laureate". The Oregonian: pp. C01. 
  6. Baker, Jeff (April 26, 2010). "Paulann Petersen named Oregon's sixth poet laureate". The Oregonian. Retrieved April 28, 2010. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Search results = au:Lawson Fusao Inada, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Oct. 14, 2014.

External linksEdit

Audio / video
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