Dempster shares poems along with family photos that illuminate the work. Seize relates Dempster’s moving experience of raising a son, Brendan, who contends with intractable epilepsy and pervasive developmental delays. These poems also link his son’s physical and verbal seizure to his maternal family’s wartime incarceration in Topaz prison camp and themes of mixed-race identity, racial violence and PTSD of war veterans.
Seize was winner of the Julie Suk Award, Silver Winner of a Human Relations Indie Book Award and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Award and National Indie Excellence Award in Poetry. As Julie Suk Award judge, Jaki Shelton Green, states, “Brian Komei Dempster provides a complicatedly nuanced and absorbing story of surrender, acceptance and grace. Seize holds his son’s epilepsy tenderly inside poetic depths of courageous breath, generational responsibility and the searing beauty of witness where anguish becomes canvas. The urgency and immediacy of Seize insists that the holiness of Brendan’s life never become a ghost in his father’s throat.”
Dempster is a professor of rhetoric and language, Director of Administration of the Master’s in Asia Pacific Studies and a faculty member in Asian Pacific American Studies at the University of San Francisco. He has conducted numerous workshops with former concentration camp survivors and their descendants, Bay Area residents, Asian Pacific American writers and those of diverse backgrounds and generations. His debut book of poems, Topaz (Four Way Books, 2013), received the 15 Bytes Book Award in Poetry.
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