When I knew Mayumi Oda, we danced hula together with Kumu Keala Ching. I knew her as a very sweet-natured, gentle Japanese woman - always smiling. I later found out that she was an artist when I heard that she had a show at the Honolulu Academy of Arts. But I had no idea she was world-famous. I had a bit of an idea that she was an activist - but did not know about her extensive work in the anti-nuclear movement. Her autography illuminates all of this and more! Not only do we know the facts of her life and who she is in historical context (a survivor of the Tokyo air raids in WWII, for example), we also learn about how the stories of her art weave with her activism. It is a treat that there are full-color illustrations of her art throughout the book, accompanied with the stories of the pieces. We also learn about the woes of the word that impelled her to speak out, such as nuclear disarmament and GMOs.. Her art fuses iconography from Buddhism, as well as other cultures and religions, so we learn about these religions and perspectives as well. She explains right up front, how she received a message from Sarasvati, the Hindu goddess of music, art, and wisdom, while in meditation. She writes that she heard her say - "Stop the plutonium shipment!" This was the beginning of a lifetime of activism,
Mayumi is a role model for me to aspire to for how to live a full and beautiful life, using your gifts to address matters of injustice, danger, health and safety - threats to a peaceful life on Earth. We are practically neighbors and I hope to see her in person soon to tell her how much I appreciate this autobiography.
I know him. He doesn't know me. He's Guam famous and now he's world-famous. I had heard of him over the years as an advocate who fought for the environment, the ocean, indigenous rights - Justice. I heard him speak at a conference and was blown away. He's a gifted speaker, and now I know he's a gifted writer. This is a small book, a collection of poems,. essays. and speeches. These different ways of communicating touch different parts of your psyche. Poems seem to touch your heart in a way that makes you pause and take it in. His personal narratives feel like conversation, as if he's telling you stories about his life, and you feel like a better person for having listened. His speeches do the work of inspiration, especially because they were meant for young people. It is a powerful book, if you really take it in, and don't know anything about Guam, you will learn. Because I know Guam, it feels so familiar to me. I know that beach, I know that mountain, I know that school, I know that situation. I can't say enough good about this book. I love it.