Lions in Winter features poet W. Todd Kaneko Thursday evening

Maddi Walton, Campus Reporter

Eastern’s English Department continues with the Lion’s and Winter lineup with poet W. Todd Kaneko virtually on Crowdcast on Thursday. 

Kaneko’s published works such as “The Dead Wrestler Elegies,” “Slash/Slash” with Amorak Huey and his most recently published collection “This Is How the Bone Sings.” 

His writing covers varying aspects of pop culture as well as his own family history. He currently lives and teaches in Michigan. 

Colleen Abel, an English assistant professor and Editor-in-Chief of Blueroom magazine, hosted the event and said how she chose to invite Kaneko for this event.

“When I invited Todd Kaneko to be our featured poet for Lions in Winter, I was thinking that students might enjoy the way he wove pop culture into his poetry, and I was looking for someone that I knew would be a strong teacher, able to break down craft ideas and give students practical writing advice,” said Abel. “I loved the way that Kaneko used his own personal family history to ask broader questions about our country, our culture and our history in ways that were both moving and accessible. I hope attendees were as inspired as I was after the event.” 

Kaneko read mostly from “This Is How the Bone Sings,” but ventured into his newer work that’s unpublished. 

Since “The Dead Wrestler Elegies” has been published, he’s making what’s essentially “The Dead Wrestler Elegies 2.0” and adding new work to it, to be published at a later date. 

Reading poetry such as “The Ogre’s Love Song” and “The Witch’s Love Song,” what he called “two speculative love poems” about his grandparents.  

He writes about how their experiences in the Minidoka concentration camp in Idaho impacted him and will impact his children. 

In the Q&A portion, when asked about writing about the Minidoka concentration camps that he was never in but writes about, he explains that he asks himself, “How is that experience mine?” 

During the craft talk, Kaneko focused on the power of the metaphor. He included a couple of writing prompts so attendees were able to leave with the start of a poem. 

“Metaphor is magic,” Kaneko said. “I think poems are magical. The magic in a poem comes from metaphor.”  

Allyssa Adams, a senior English major with a concentration in creative writing, said how she felt about the event.

“The event was very inspiring,” Adams said. “Todd Kaneko spoke very passionately about poetry and helped spark a new creative process for me when it comes to writing poetry.” 

This was the third and final event for the Lions and Winter literary festival at Eastern. Eastern’s English Department hosted Brenda Peynado back in December, Rachel Monroe last month and finally W. Todd Kaneko on Thursday.  


Maddi Walton can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]