Author Diana Morita Cole launches Sideways: Memoir of a Misfit at Touchstones Nelson on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Sideways chronicles the life of a child born a prisoner in Minidoka after her family was expelled from Hood River, Oregon in 1942.
Cole’s story begins inside her mother’s womb, where she overhears the internment camp doctor speculate that her 44-year-old mother may not survive childbirth.
“Luckily I, a mere fetus at the time, had big ears, so I turned a somersault in utero — one of my rare moments of grace — and my 44-year-old mother survived,” Cole writes.
The documentary film, Hidden Internment: Story of Art Shibayama, will be premiered during the launch.
The film exposes the kidnapping, smuggling, and imprisonment of the Japanese Latin Americans in Crystal City, Texas and Shibayama’s three decade struggle to gain the equivalent redress and apology that was granted to Japanese Americans and Japanese Canadians.
As well as the film, the paintings of Andrew Fitz-earle, a fourth generation Japanese Canadian will be on display for the evening. He is a former Nelson artist who studied at the Emily Carr Institute of Art.
Diana Morita Cole’s first chapter of Sideways: Memoir of a Misfit was published in The New Orphic Review and shortlisted in the open-season competition of The Malahat Review creative non-fiction category for 2013. It was also nominated for the Pushcart Prize Anthology for 2015.
Ernest Hekkanen, editor-in-chief of The New Orphic Review says “Sideways: Memoir of a Misfit acquaints us with what is uncomfortable in history, how people suffer and find resilience. This is a book full of fascinating personal insights.”
Another of Cole’s creative nonfiction works, Two Human Rights Complaints, is required reading for the San Francisco State University graduate social work course, Ethnic and Cultural Concepts and Principles I.
Living in Canada for over 40 years, Cole has initiated projects to help diminish racism and foster justice, peace, and environmental awareness. She was a co-founder of the Seventh World, an association of biracial couples that created a writing contest for London Ontario K-12 children to promote racial harmony. This program has since been implemented in several other communities throughout Southwestern Ontario.
And her reports, chronicling her battle against the spraying of Agent Orange in Nova Scotia forests, have been cited by Mark Richard Leeming in his 2013 Dalhousie University Doctoral Thesis, In Defense of Home Places: Environmental Activism in Nova Scotia, 1970–1985.
She has made presentations to Parliament, advocating the banning of Agent Orange, and to the US Congress, advocating against landmines.
She resides in Nelson where she has organized forums in support of residential school victims. She is a member of the Uphill Writing Group and the Nelson Storytelling Guild.