The first major poetry collection from an award-winning student of Robert Pinsky, exploring the inherited trauma within his Japanese American family, his life as an artist, and his bond with his wife

Product Code: 3181
ISBN: 9780807015889
Format: Hardback
Publisher: Beacon Press
Pages: 112
Published Date: 10/04/2022
Availability:In stock
Price: $16.00

In 65 lyric poems organized into a triptych, Common Grace offers an important new lens into Asian American life, art, and love.

Part 1, “Soul Sauce,” describes the poet’s life as a practicing visual artist, taking us from an early encounter with an inkwell at Roseland Elementary in 1969 to his professional outdoor easel perched on Long Island Sound.

Part 2, ‘Ubasute,” is named after the mythical Japanese practice wherein “a grown son lifts / his aged mother on his back, / delivers her to a mountain, / leaves her to die.” This concept frames a wrenching portrayal of his parents’ decline and death, reaching back to his father’s time in the American internment camps of WWII and his mother’s memories of the firebombing of Tokyo. It also anchors the 2 outer parts in the racial trauma and joys passed down from his parents.

Part 3, “Gutter Trees,” gives us affecting love poems to his wife and the creative lives they’ve built together.

Ranging in scope from private moments to the sweep of familial heritage, Caycedo-Kimura’s poems are artful, subtle, but never quiet.

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I. Soul Sauce

Family Anthem
Cal Tjader
Titling a poem
En Plein Air at Silver Sands State Park
Winter Psalm
Roseland Elementary, 1969
Elegy for Mrs. Mullane
In the Studio
North on Route 101
Daily news
La Sidrería
Taxi de Toledo
Turning Forty-Nine
Cross My Heart, Hope to Die
Autumnal Equinox

II. Ubasute

The Moon of Ubasute
Hand Tilling
Watching Grass Grow
Ride Home
The Miss Anita
Screaming Crows
The Hardest Part
Moving On
Artificial Flavors
Post-War Occupation
When You’re the Son
What’s Kept Alive
Mom Deciding
Tokyo Army Hospital, 1957
Afternoon Infusion

III. Gutter Trees

Five Minutes on High
Tripe Soup
Taste Test
On United Flight 2309
Marking territory
End of October
The Fern
Common Grace
Away in Boston, Riding the Green Line
The Art of Shoveling Snow
New Year’s Day
Foraging, July 2020
If this were the day
Gutter Trees


“These well-wrought poems show a distinct artistic sensibility. Through personal loss, grief, and love, they enter the domain of history and human migrations. Common Grace is an uncommon book, elegant, at times tough-minded, also moving.” —Ha Jin, National Book Award–winning author of Waiting

“In vivid, moving poems that span cultures, generations, and geographies, Aaron Caycedo-Kimura’s Common Grace evokes the mysteries and wonder in everyday life. Here is a poet of clear-eyed originality, big-hearted and wise—and a book to read again and again.” —Matthew Thorburn, author of The Grace of Distance

“The quality of wonder, lucid and luminous, energizes Aaron Caycedo-Kimura’s Common Grace. In these poems, the visible world radiates meaning, memory becomes palpable, and loss is acknowledged. Caycedo-Kimura brings a wry, tender, musical and unsentimental attention to family love, sexual love, love of nature, and the underlying love of art.” —Robert Pinsky, 3-time United States Poet Laureate

“I love the tender, lyrical ‘labored stroke’ with which poet-painter Aaron Caycedo-Kimura makes his art. With a poet’s sensibility and an artist’s cool eye, he elegizes and celebrates his family’s heartbreaking, triumphant history, and his own. Common Grace, his first full-length collection, pays fluent loving attention to life and art—and their rewards glow!” —Gail Mazur, author of Land’s End: New and Selected Poems

“Aaron Caycedo-Kimura’s debut full-length collection, Common Grace, spans decades, geography, and poetic styles and forms. At once a moving yet unsentimental tribute to his Japanese parents (who wanted ‘no funeral no obituary in the newspaper’), as well as an ars poetica of an introverted poet-painter, Common Grace is no common book of poetry. A better tribute than any gravestone or obituary, Common Grace (with its striking images, chorus of different forms, and historical narratives, including those of Japanese internment) announces Caycedo-Kimura as an important new voice making art from the complexities and contradictions of being a third-generation Japanese American. In work that is both deeply personal and profoundly universal, Caycedo-Kimura, in looking at a photograph of his mother, writes (‘Tokyo Army Hospital, 1957,’): ‘She’s twenty-nine, half my age. I want to go back in time, tell her something wise or at least helpful, but having lived through a world war, she already knows more than I do.’ The poems in Common Grace offer us both beauty and wisdom in equal measure.” —Jennifer Franklin, author of No Small Gift

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