A Q&A with Aaron Caycedo-Kimura | My manuscript was originally named “What’s Kept Alive,” after one of the poems in the second section. This poem compares the keeping of a Japanese maple shrub alive to keeping my family’s history alive. The title captured the overall essence of the manuscript but lacked a certain punch. My amazing editor, Catherine Tung, suggested “Common Grace”—the title of one of the poems in the third section.
Still kicking two years in, COVID brought out the worst from the nation’s populace: racist brutality against marginalized communities. This year’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month commemorates the victims of the 2021 spa shootings as well as all other Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders lost to anti-Asian violence during the pandemic and throughout history. This violence is a form of erasure. As historian Catherine Ceniza Choy writes in her forthcoming addition to Beacon Press’s ReVisioning History series, “This positioning of Asians in opposition to American identity and experience is perhaps most powerfully expressed through the erasure of their long-standing presence in the United States and their contributions to its various industries.”