16 February 2015

Book Review: Queer Compulsions

Amy Sueyoshi is associate Dean in the College of Ethic Studies and an American associate professor jointly appointed in race and residence studies and sexuality studies at San Francisco State University.

I have to admit that I had a vague remembrance of the name Isamu Noguchi, the creator of the Noguchi table. But I had never heard of Yonejiro Noguchi (pictured right).

Yone Noguchi, was the father of Isamu Noguchi. He was also a turn of the twentieth century Japanese and American poet. He is apparently well studied in some Japanese and American academic circles and has been consistently considered heterosexual.

But as it turns out, he was far from it. Before he was straight, he was gay. He moved to the US when he was young and he mingled through out the bohemian scene where he came into his own sexuality. And what was that? Gay love with older white men.

But as he grew older and more famous and Japan began its imperial aggression in Asia, there appears to be some shift in Yone which led to him impregnating Isamu's mother and getting engaged to a Southern aristocrat. But as his most intimate male friend predicted, if he returned to Japan, he would be forgotten.

In the end, Yone was mostly forgotten in the bigger circles of poetry and literature. But what I found most interesting about Yone's story was the life story of his passions and emotions and the historical circumstances within which they were felt. And I'll put it on the record, it really must have sucked to be poor, not white, homo in American in the early twentieth century.

The version I read was a 232 page cloth published by University of Hawaii Press on March 31, 2012. ISBN: 978-0824834975. Lowest price seems to be abebooks.com and amazon.com

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