The 2020 Slapering Hol Press Chapbook Contest Winner’s collection is Ubasute by Aaron Caycedo-Kimura.
At the lucid depths of loss, as elemental as the Greek tragedies but on a personal scale and in an even tone of voice, Aaron Caycedo- Kimura’s poems in Ubasute are detailed, elegiac meditations within a particular American family. This compact, artful book evokes the eternal rhythms of grief and memory, loss and gratitude, including the evil of internment camps and the dignity of a suburban garden. Here is the restorative clarity of art.
In Japanese folklore, ubasute is the act of carrying an elderly parent up a mountain and leaving the person there to die. In Aaron Caycedo- Kimura’s beautiful, moving debut collection, Ubasute, the poet carries his mother and father out of memory and onto the page, but he does not set them down or let them go. He holds his parents close so we can see and hear them—as a boy in an American concentration camp, as a girl surviving the firebombing of Tokyo, as newlyweds, suburban parents, and too soon a dying father, a widow slipping away. In these clear-eyed, open-hearted, unforgettable poems, Caycedo-Kimura invites us to join him as he walks once more behind his aging parents “with an outstretched arm / as if to give a blessing.”
Aaron Caycedo-Kimura is a writer and visual artist. He is the author of two poetry collections: Ubasute, which won the 2020 Slapering Hol Press Chapbook Competition, and the full-length collection Common Grace, forthcoming from Beacon Press in Fall 2022. His honors include a Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship in Poetry, a St. Botolph Club Foundation Emerging Artist Award in Literature, and a Best New Poets anthology nomination. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Beloit Poetry Journal, RHINO, Poet Lore, DMQ Review, Tule Review, Louisiana Literature, The Night Heron Barks, and elsewhere. Aaron earned his MFA in creative writing from Boston University and is also the author and illustrator of Text, Don’t Call: An Illustrated Guide to the Introverted Life (TarcherPerigee, 2017).