This #NewsPoet was inspired by tradition and oysters | KUOW News and Information

This #NewsPoet was inspired by tradition and oysters

Apr 26, 2018

Starting this month KUOW is celebrating local poetry with a series called #NewsPoet.

A Pacific Northwest poet writes an original piece inspired by a KUOW news story. This week we hear from Kingston-based poet Kelli Russel Agodon.


Her poem, “In Praise of Oysters,” was inspired by a story we did about a Japanese immigrant family that saved Pacific oysters in the early 1900s.

"In Praise of Oysters"

     for the Yamashita family

In praise of oysters, of a family

replanting the tidelands, in praise

of strength, It gives me great pleasure

      to be able to share what we have,

in praise of boats, wooden boxes

of seeds, straw and rice mats.

     He imported pearls from Japan at one time,

cities built from shells, mother-of, father-of

community, in praise of staying,

in replenishing what was overharvested,

what pollution stole.

There’s nothing better

than oysters—I hear echoes

in the shoreline. How to live optimistically

in a country of internment camps, a grandfather

sent to Montana, a family forced to California,

     it was challenging, but at the same time,

     there were very kind people. Praise Masahide

and the renamed Pacific oyster, to be a gem

in a nation of rough tides—praise

the family and the thousands of seeds

to shellfish farmers, to make the shorelines glisten,

to always share what we have.