Seattle poet faces pain of past; reading set Thursday in Port Townsend

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — Some of Larry Matsuda’s poetry is hard to hear.

It’s about going to a prison camp without due process of law.

But it’s also about facing the pain in your past, which is a key to healing, said Matsuda’s mentor, Tess Gallagher.

Matsuda, the Seattle author of A Cold Wind from Idaho, will give a reading at the Northwind Arts Center, 2409 Jefferson St., this Thursday night.

Admission is free to the 7 p.m. event, part of Northwind’s reading series.

Matsuda was born in 1945 in the Minidoka, Idaho, internment camp during World War II. He and his family were among the 120,000 Japanese-Americans and Japanese held in such camps.

He published A Cold Wind in 2010 and has since shared its poetry with a variety of audiences, including former internees at Minidoka.

At that reunion gathering, one woman told him: “It’s been 60 years, and I had never cried for Minidoka” until that day.

“For some people,” Matsuda has said, such a memoir is “a release; it’s permission to speak about things they haven’t spoken about,” while the act of writing and remembering gave him a mission.

That mission was “to turn anger into creative art, to transform it into something that can help others.”

Gallagher, a Port Angeles-born poet and teacher, got acquainted with Matsuda through their mutual friend, artist Alfredo Arreguin of Seattle.

Gallagher found the poet’s work gripping — but not quite finished. She urged him to go deeper.

A Cold Wind is the result. And today, Matsuda, a doctor of education who spent 27 years in Seattle’s public schools and then had another career as a professor at Seattle University, continues to write poetry.

His writing appears in the Seattle Journal for Social Justice, Ambush Review, Raven Chronicles, New Orleans Review, Floating Bridge Review and in other journals and books.

For information about this and future Northwind readings, visit or phone coordinator Bill Mawhinney at 360-437-9081.


Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3550 or at

Last modified: April 07. 2014 6:52PM
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