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'Some girls' & 'ethnic adjustments' by poet Shizue Seigel

Shizue Seigel is a 3rd-generation Japanese American writer, visual artist and community activist who explores identity, cultural and socopoitical history and intergenerational legacies through prose, poetry and visual art. She is the founder of Write Now! a Bay Area organization that has been supporting BIPOC writers and artists since 2015 through writing workshops, events and five anthologies.

Link to Write Now!

Two poems about What is taught and what is learned

some girls

What do you mean, “Go for it”?

how can you say, “Speak up”?

Nobody taught me how.

Nice girls are agreeable. Nice girls are patient.

We don’t make mistakes or act without permission.

Nobody taught me to love

the terrible freedom

the wild solitude.

I did everything they told me to.

“Be patient, co-operate, wait your turn.”

Hesitant and yielding, gentle flutter of downcast eyes.

Inside resentment builds, drop by bitter drop.

Inside the wild one screams.

ethnic adjustments

Get this. I’m only going to say it once:

I am not nor have I ever been a Cherry Blossom queen

I did not nor do I plan to bomb Pearl Harbor

I do not nor will I ever

wear a camera round my neck

No, I won’t walk on your back. Or serve green tea,

Heck, I don’t even like rice.

Look closely. I’m not yellow inside or out. My eyes don’t slant.

And I’m sure you’ve noticed I’m not polite.

So let’s go for a walk.

but don’t expect me ten steps behind.

In my world, men follow me.