coordinator of the Freeman Asian / Asian American Initiative, displays
photographs and haiku in the Asian / Asian American House.
|daylight . . .
no one notices
Haiku by Stanford Forrester
Initiative Coordinator Spreads Interest in Asian Culture with Community
|Since he was 12,
Stanford Forrester had a strong interest in Asian culture. Growing up in New
York, watching “Kung Fu” on TV, taking karate and judo lessons, and
studying Asian philosophy were his fondest pastimes.
For the last four years, Forrester has been the coordinator of the Freeman
Asian / Asian American Initiative, a position that has allowed his interest
in Asian culture to flourish.
“We bring teaching fellows directly from Japan, China or Korea and have them
share their culture in Wesleyan classes, take part in Wesleyan functions and
just have them here on campus to share their ideas and thoughts,” Forrester
says. “Their presence adds to Wesleyan’s unique atmosphere.”
As the initiative’s manager, Forrester manages the initiative’s $1.9 million
budget, plans events and maintains the Asian / Asian American Initiative Web
He also helps hire two or three teaching fellows each year from East Asia
and provides logistical support for recruitment of visiting scholars in the
Forrester was also responsible for developing and planning all logistics of
a national conference at Wesleyan in 2005. Scholars from all over the
country attended the conference to discuss “Traffic and Diaspora: Political,
Economical and Cultural Exchanges between Japan and Asian America.”
“The Asian / Asian American Initiative was designed to create a bridge
between the Center for the Americas and the Center for East Asian Studies,” he explains. “We want to offer significant
opportunities for academic and cultural enrichment.”
The five-year, grant-funded initiative, supported by the Freeman Foundation, supports the study of
Asia and the Asian Diaspora - the study of people of Asian heritage outside
the geographical boundaries of Asia.
The program has helped 47 undergraduates
to study abroad in Asian countries, and 38 students to conduct research in
the U.S. or abroad. He has used the grant money to purchase over 140
educational films, documentaries, books and other resources pertaining to
Asian culture and literature to help Wesleyan’s students and faculty with
Much of Forrester’s initial forays into Asian culture were self-taught. He
majored in Spanish at Washington and Jefferson College in Pennsylvania. He
went on to receive a master’s in Spanish Literature from Boston College, and
has completed all the coursework needed for a Ph.D at Boston College.
Forrester served as the publicity assistant and then exhibits manager at
Yale University Press, and in 2002, he came to Wesleyan as the coordinator
of the Asian/Asian American Initiative.
“I studied Spanish literature, but I was always interested in Asian culture
and language, and Asian poetry,” he says. “So working here at Wesleyan I
feel like a kid in a candy store. It combines my love for Asian culture with
With Forrester’s love for Asian literature comes a passion for haiku, a
Japanese-based, unrhymed poem linking nature with human nature. The poems,
written in three lines, usually total less than 17 syllables. It can take
anywhere from a few minutes to a year to write a single poem, Forrester
Forrester, who has had over 300 poems published internationally, is a member
of the Haiku Society of America. He served as the society’s president in
2003 and judged the United Nations International School Children’s Haiku
Contest in 2006.
“One of our major goals of the Haiku Society is to attract new generations
of poets to teach and nurture,” he says. “The American culture is not
poem-friendly, and there are so few venues out there that publish poetry.”
That is one reason Forrester opened own publishing house,
Bottle Rockets Press. He designs and publishes haiku books and is
editor of the national haiku journal, bottle rockets: a collection of short
To date, Forrester has delivered more than a dozen presentations including
“An Introduction to the Haiku Path” at the Freeman Center for East Asian
Studies and “Buddhism and Haiku: Two Paths of Awareness,” at Wesleyan’s
Buddhist House. He’s also guest-taught classes with Shelia Mullen, visiting
instructor in American Sign Language, and Kate Rushin, adjunct assistant
professor of African American Studies and visiting writer.
“Integrating haiku into lessons is a great way to learn about poetry,” he
Forrester lives in Wethersfield with his wife, Mary and children Abigail, 6,
and Molly, 4.
Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection