Janice Mirikitani

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Mirikitani in 1977

Janice Mirikitani (born February 4, 1941) is an American Sansei poet and activist.

Early life[edit]

Mirikitani was born in Stockton, California, to Shigemi and Ted Mirikitani, who were Japanese immigrant farmers in San Joaquin County.[1]

During World War II, she was interned along with her family at the Rohwer War Relocation Center in Arkansas.[2] Following the war, the Mirikitani family moved to Chicago. The painter Jimmy Mirikitani (born Tsutomu Mirikitani) was a distant cousin.[3][circular reference]

After her parents were divorced, Janice was brought back to a chicken farm at Petaluma, California, with her mother, where they would be near the remainder of their family. During the time that followed, Janice Mirikitani became the victim of sexual molestation by her step-father up to the age of sixteen,[4] and was saved from suicide only by the love and care of her grandmother. She would later speak of the pain of her incestuous abuse through her poetry.[5]

Janice Mirikitani of Glide Memorial Church joined protesters in front of the International Hotel January, 1977.

Janice Mirikitani attended UCLA, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree. During this time, she struggled with her ethnic identity, which she would later portray through her poetry. After gaining her teaching credentials, she taught in the Contra Costa School District for a year. She worked at Glide Memorial Church in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco as an administrative assistant.[5] From her first marriage in 1966, which ended in divorce in 1971, Janice Mirikitani gave birth to her daughter, Tianne Tsukiko Miller, in 1967.[citation needed] Janice Mirikitani then entered graduate school for creative writing at San Francisco State University, but later discontinued her studies.

Political activities[edit]

After participating in the Asian American Political Alliance, she joined Third World Communications and became the editor of Aion, the first[citation needed] Asian American literary magazine, from 1970-1971. She edited two anthologies for Third World Communications: Third World Women (1972) and Time to Greez! Incantations from the Third World (1975). Mirikitani then became project director for Ayumi: A Japanese American Anthology (1980).[5]

After two years of activism for Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in 1969 she became the program director. In 1982 Mirikitani was married to Reverend Cecil Williams. That same year she was chosen as the president of the Glide Foundation, where she was responsible for fund raising and budget oversight. In 2000, she was named the second poet laureate for the city of San Francisco. The California State Assembly named her Woman of the Year for the 17th Assembly District.[2][6][7]

Mirikitani at a protest in front of the International Hotel in San Francisco, California in 1977. San Francisco Supervisor Dorothy von Beroldingen is at right.
Poet Janice Mirikitani in San Francisco, 1975
Janice Mirikitani in San Francisco, 1977


  • Beyond the Possible (2013), co-author with Rev. Cecil Williams
  • Love Works (2002)
  • We, the Dangerous (1995)
  • Shedding silence (1987)
  • Awake in the River (1978)


  1. ^ Madsen, Deborah L. (2005). Asian American writers. Dictionary of literary biography: Asian American writers. 312, A Bruccoli Clark Layman book. Thomson Gale. p. 227. ISBN 0-7876-8130-X.
  2. ^ a b Nam, Vickie (2001). Yell-oh girls!: emerging voices explore culture, identity, and growing up Asian American. Harper Collins. p. xxxiii. ISBN 0-06-095944-4.
  3. ^ Wakida, Patricia. "Densho: Janice Mirikitani". Retrieved 2020-11-15.
  4. ^ Janice Mirikitani Densho Encyclopedia
  5. ^ a b c Nimura, Tamiko (2002). Emmanuel Sampath Nelson and Huang Guiyou (ed.). Asian-American poets: a bio-bibliographical critical sourcebook. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 233–235. ISBN 0-313-31809-3.
  6. ^ Niiya, Brian (1993). Japanese American history: an A-to-Z reference from 1868 to the present. VNR AG. p. 234–235. ISBN 0-8160-2680-7.
  7. ^ Nelson, Emmanuel Sampath (2005). The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Multiethnic American Literature: I - M. 3. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 1503. ISBN 0-313-33062-X.

Further reading[edit]