All Names Spoken


116 pages
ISBN 0-920813-88-7
DDC C811'.54




Reviewed by Janet Money

Janet Money is Sports Editor of the Woodstock Daily Sentinel-Review.


This collection of poetry and fiction is shared by Tamai Kobayashi and
Mona Oikawa, both Japanese-Canadian lesbian writers. In a jointly
written introduction, they discuss their differences as well as their
obvious similarities, and acknowledge their contribution to the dearth
of existing literature by Asian-American lesbians.

Kobayashi, whose work occupies the first half of the book, sometimes
seems self-conscious in her poetry; images seem forced and don’t
always work together well. She’s at her best when the language is
plain and spare, as in “for lola”: “it is for this / that I have
driven / the miles.” Kobayashi includes some enticing prose erotica
and a fictional work in progress that needs to be more fast-paced.

Oikawa’s work is more polished and emotional. In
“Self-Examination,” a moving tribute to her late mother, the poet is
dreading having to examine her own breasts. Her prose pieces, “Some
thoughts on being a Sansei lesbian feminist” and “My life is not
imagined: Notes on writing as a Sansei lesbian feminist,” are
thought-provoking personal essays on racism, sexism, and homophobia.

Although the collection is uneven, both writers are obviously talented
and there is valuable literature here.


Kobayashi, Tamai., “All Names Spoken,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 21, 2024,