Songs of resistance : transformations of trauma in the writing of Michiyo Fukaya

This thesis examines Michiyo Fukaya’s poetry and prose from the 1970s and 1980s in order to insert Fukaya’s work into a genealogy of queer women of color literature. Michiyo Fukaya was a mixed heritage Japanese American lesbian writer and activist, born in Japan to her Japanese mother and her white father, a U.S. soldier, and raised predominantly in Burlington, Vermont. Although she wrote speeches, letters to editorials, journal articles, fiction, poetry, and short essays exploring Asian American politics, gay and lesbian rights, Eurasian identity, and lesbian desire, her work remains to be overlooked. Instead, the biographical literature surrounding Fukaya’s life narrowly underscores her suicide to depict her as tragic woman who could not get past her suffering and rage. These perspectives have washed onto perceptions of her poetry and prose by trivializing her literary work as over-emotional. This thesis complicates the pathological framing of Fukaya’s writing by emphasizing the role of negative affect and embodiment as important aesthetic and literary strategies for queer women of color writers. I specifically stress the role of autobiographical writing, affective processing, remembering and envisioning as practices of transformation, self-determination and healing from racial and sexual trauma.