Transcript: Poems on Air, Episode 90 - Janice Mirkitani

The following transcript is provided for accessibility only. Layout, formatting, and typography of poems may differ from the original text. We recommend referring to the original, published works when possible to experience the poems as intended by their authors.

[Music intro]

LYNNE THOMPSON: Hello! My name is Lynne Thompson, Poet Laureate for the City of Los Angeles, and I’m so happy to welcome listeners to this installment of Poems on Air, a podcast supported by the Los Angeles Public Library. Every week, I’ll present the work of poets I admire, poets who you should know, and poets who have made a substantial and inimitable contribution to the art and craft of poetry.

LYNNE THOMPSON: As Poems on Air continues its celebration of poetry forefathers-and-mothers, we high-light California native, Janice Mirkitani. A poet, dancer, and community activist, Mirkitani was committed to addressing the horrors of war, combating institutional racism, and advocating for women and poor people. The author of several collections of poetry and editor of many anthologies, she was named San Francisco’s second Poet Laureate in 2000. After battling cancer, Mirikitani passed away in 2021.

LYNNE THOMPSON: Today’s poem is "For a Daughter Who Leaves" by Janice Mirkitani.

"For a Daughter Who Leaves"

A woman weaves
her daughter’s wedding
slipper that will carry
her steps into a new life.
The mother weeps alone 
into her jeweled sewing box
clips red threat
around its spool,
the same she used to stitch 
her daughters first silk jacket
embroidered with turtles
that would bring luck, long life.
She remembers all the steps
taken by her daughters 
unbound quick feet:
dancing on the stones
of the yard among yellow
butterflies and white breasted sparrows.
And she grew, legs strong
body long, mind
Now she captures all eyes
with her hair combed smooth
and her hips gently swaying like bamboo.
The woman
spins her thread 
from the spool of her heart,
knotted other daughter’s
wedding slippers.

LYNNE THOMPSON: The Los Angeles Poet Laureate was created as a joint program between the City’s Department of Cultural Affairs and the Los Angeles Public Library and this podcast is available wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks for listening!

[Music outro]

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  • DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a certified or verbatim transcript, but rather represents only the context of the class or meeting, subject to the inherent limitations of real-time captioning. The primary focus of real-time captioning is general communication access and as such this document is not suitable, acceptable, nor is it intended for use in any type of legal proceeding. Transcript provided by the author.