Mary Oishi in Conversation with Michelle Otero

Collected Works Bookstore | 202 Galisteo St, Santa Fe, NM 87501

Albuquerque Poet Laureate Emeritus Mary OishiMary Oishi — the “Pandemic Poet Laureate” — began her tenure as Albuquerque Poet Laureate in 2020. Her new book of poems, Sidewalk Cruiseship, draws on Oishi’s remarkable ability to illustrate the world around her and the people in it. Separated into eleven short sections by traditional Japanese tankas, the poems in Oishi’s newest collection take on the macro and the micro. They respond to the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and the contentious political climate as they draw readers in to witness intimate moments of people and scenes within Oishi’s beloved city of Albuquerque. The poems explore such themes as mental illness, the joys and sorrows of motherhood, what it is to be a woman in the world,

and aging and death. Readers will come away with a better sense of Albuquerque and its inhabitants and will get an intimate look at one of its most passionate citizens—a Japanese American longtime justice activist and mentor for queer youth who embraces the best and worst Albuquerque has to offer. Throughout it all, she reminds us that the best response we can offer is love, even in the face of adversity.

Michelle Otero was Albuquerque Poet Laureate from 2018–2020. Her debut poetry collection, Bosque, was the winner of the 2021 Southwest Book Award from the Border Regional Library Association.