A Thousand Homes


80 pages
ISBN 1-55128-020-5
DDC C811'.54





Reviewed by Patricia Morley

Patricia Morley is professor emerita of English and Canadian studies at
Concordia University, Japan Foundation Fellow 1991-92, and the author of
Margaret Laurence: The Long Journey Home and As Though Life Mattered:
Leo Kennedy’s Story.


Terry Watada is a poet, editor, playwright, and fiction writer. He is
also a musician who has composed, produced, and performed nine albums.
To the Japanese-Canadian community he may be best known for his monthly
column in Nikkei Voice. This fine collection of poetry should help to
move him into the mainstream of Canadian writing, along with Joy Kogawa.

Born soon after the wartime internment of Japanese-Canadians was over,
Watada brings that period alive through sharing imaginatively in the
experiences of his parents and his community. Many poems stem from a
sympathetic identification with the prewar experience of Japanese who
came to Canada as miners, lumberjacks, and “picture brides.”
Watada’s images catch the loneliness (“A rage against the fate / of
sea and seawind”), the poverty (“One room in a boarding house / a
furoba downstairs / with gambling in the rear”), and the pain
(“curses / under the sheets / and a quiet sobbing”). A one-page
glossary translates Japanese words used (furoba is a public bathhouse).

Watada’s imagery is visually striking and emotionally powerful. A
poem called “1946 Alberta” begins “The land was hard, flat,
barren. / Brown seeped into brown / And wheat and sugar beet grew
stunted / in pale sunlight.” Perhaps his greatest strengths are his
ability to make the reader share vicariously in the joys and pains of
daily life with his family and neighbors, and his sense of history.


Watada, Terry., “A Thousand Homes,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 26, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/1541.