Poetry News

Jeff Tagami, Poet Champion of Asian-American Immigrants, Dies

By Harriet Staff

Jeff Tagami, a Filipino American poet, died last Saturday at the age of 57. A passionate student of Asian-American history, Tagami was particularly concerned with the plight of Asian immigrants who came to California in search of the American dream, only to be met with discrimination and anger. His poem, “Song of Pajaro,” was featured in a 1995 PBS series, the United States of Poetry. The Santa Cruz Sentinel reports:

In 1977, Tagami transferred to what was then known as San Francisco State College and joined an Asian American artist and writers collaborative, publishing short stories and poems that focused on factory and field workers, while holding down a variety of odd jobs.

“He wanted to write about their backgrounds and things that weren’t in print then,” said [his wife, Shirley] Ancheta, who met her husband in the fourth grade. “It was hard to find even one or two writers of color in an anthology, so he sought to break that mold” and make Asian Americans the focal point, rather than marginalized characters.

Tagami’s book, October Light, was published in 1987. Full report here.

Originally Published: June 29th, 2012