Through a Lens, Historically

By Marcia Faye
Through a Lens, Historically
Jun Fujita photograph of diver with diving helmet leaping into the water outside of the USS Eastland crash site in Chicago on July 24, 1915
Photo: Courtesy of Chicago History Museum

According to an article that appeared earlier this year in the Chicago Tribune, Fujita was born in Japan, immigrated to Canada, and then came to Chicago, enrolling at Armour to study mathematics. After he took a job as a newspaper photographer to help pay his tuition, Fujita did not return to school but instead chose to further develop his creative side, which included writing poems, many of which appeared in Poetry magazine in the 1920s. This year the Poetry Foundation’s Katharine Litwin, library director, and Fred Sasaki, art director for Poetry, co-curated the exhibit Jun Fujita: Oblivion, featuring a substantial collection of the artist’s poetry and photographs. Oblivion ran from January 12 to May 26 at the Chicago-based foundation.

“We think poets can do anything, but Jun Fujita could do everything,” says Sasaki. “He had a natural facility with language and a canny eye; he knew how to cook and race speedboats; and he had the will to survive the wilderness as well as twentieth-century U.S.A.”