The group met informally every month to read and critique each other’s poetry and paid a small membership fee that supported publication of the journal. Their main focus of study and publication was the free-form haiku (jiyûritsu haiku) that was gaining popularity in Japan at the time, but essays, fiction, and other kinds of poetry also were featured regularly.
There are thirteen extant issues of this journal, from 1916 through 1919. Their pages provide an unprecedented glimpse into both the daily and literary lives of the first generation of Japanese Americans, particularly those living in Southern California. Dr. Yasuhara will read and offer interpretations of many poems and other works from the Lemon Notebook, showing the ways in which the issei negotiated their cultural separation from their homeland and struggled to build their new, Japanese American lives and cultural identities.
Eri F. Yasuhara received her Ph.D. from UCLA in 1982, from the Department of Oriental Languages (now Department of Asian Languages and Cultures). Her dissertation was Buson and “Haishi”: A Study of Free-Form “Haikai” Poetry in Eighteenth Century Japan. As Professor of Japanese, she taught Japanese language, literature, and culture in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at California State University, Los Angeles.
In 1995, she became Associate Dean of the School of Arts and Letters at Cal State Los Angeles, and in 2000 she moved to California State University, San Bernardino as Dean of the College of Arts and Letters. In addition to her interests in Early Modern haikai poetry, Dr. Yasuhara has published in the field of Japanese American literature, focusing on Japanese language poems and essays written in the early twentieth century by issei, the first generation of immigrants to the continental United States.