Albert Saijo was born in 1926 in the San Gabriel Valley of California. As a teenager, he and his family were interned at Heart Mountain Internment Camp in Wyoming. He served with the 442nd in Italy during World War II, then returned to become a Beat Poet in the San Francisco Bay Area. With Lew Welch and Jack Kerouac, he wrote Trip Trap: Haiku On the Road, written in the late 1950s, but not published until 1972. After leaving the city for northern California, he wrote The Backpacker, a wise and practical book illustrated by his brother, Gompers. He and his wife Laura moved to the Big Island of Hawai`i in the early 1990s. Bamboo Ridge Press published Outspeaks: A Rhapsody in 1997 as well as a tribute to Saijo in their 100th issue in 2012. Saijo died on June 2, 2011.
Jerry Martien lives in the Humboldt Bay region, where for forty years he has been a community poet and watershed activist, variously employed as a bookstore clerk, nightwatchman, truck driver, and for 25 years a carpenter. He occasionally teaches writing at Humboldt State University, and is the author of several poetry chapbooks and a collection, Pieces in Place, and Shell Game: A True Account of Beads and Money in North America.
About the Cover Image: "I truly enjoyed Saijo's honesty, his poetry, his appreciation and understanding of nature. I sought to represent a contrast in both subject and style by juxtaposing the preciseness of architecture and modern creation with that of organic decay and rhythms." Allison Hanabusa
By Albert Saijo • Edited with Introduction by Jerry Martien 2015 • $19
Design by Allison Hanabusa
WOODRAT FLAT, by the late Albert Saijo, includes work from the late 1980s and early 1990s, prescient poems about the environment, marijuana farming, and the failures of government; as well as beautiful, close observations of the natural world. Neglected as a Beat poet because he was Asian American (he was interned at Heart Mountain & served in the 442nd in Italy), the time has come to pay close attention to him and his words.
WOODRAT FLAT by Albert Saijo
“…EVERY SEEMING MOMENT IS HAPPENING FOREVER.” Albert Saijo has always been one of my favorite writers.
Astute, yet simple he writes with such sharp recognitions— “LET US GIVE UP THE IDEA THAT WHATEVER IS HAPPENING TO US BELONGS TO US.”
We are so fortunate to have this new book, his voice so alive on the page. “IS EARTH LIFE A SHORT BURST OF QUAIL FLIGHT?”
Woodrat Flat presents wonders of home and earth against the terrors of modern civilization. Saijo’s writing provides a shelter made to crumble back into the loam—in potent evocations of storm clouds dragging into the trees, the clear nothing of water, and the mercy of plants who scatter themselves—but this is a sharp-edged ramble, pointed against the choppers of poisonous regimes, and its cuts are equally deep. The miracle of this book is its at once heightened and plain speaking: this is strange majesty and brute clarity, and its particular incantations will linger.
from WOODRAT FLAT:
WOKE UP THIS MORNING TO SEE BUSH BUNNY BABY DEAD UNDER PIANO BENCH –
JUST HEAD EATEN OFF – REST UNSCRATCHED – NOT DEAD HARD YET – SOFT AND
LIMP – SMALL PERFECT BUSH BUNNY BABY WITH SOFTEST PELAGE – PERFECT FEET –
WHITE UNDER THE TAIL – PERFECT FURRED BALLS – BUT WITH NO EYES NOSE MOUTH
EARS – HEAD EATEN OFF – PERFECT BUSH BUNNY BABY EXCEPT DEAD WITH HEAD