Cal Poly Humboldt alumni Tony Wallin-Sato reflects on his life in an upcoming poetry book

In his new upcoming book, “Bamboo on the Tracks: Sakura Snow and Colt Peacekeeper,” writer Tony Wallin-Sato aims to show his journey in life using the power of the written word.

“The whole piece is about identity, and I’m mixed. My mom is from Japan, and my father was from the United States. This American cowboy persona. It’s about being HAPA, being mixed, finding my identities, and having these two different cultures, these two different parents,” Wallin-Sato

The subtitle reflects that with “Sakura Snow” representing his Japanese mother and “Colt Peacemaker” his American father.

Within the poems, Wallin-Sato opens up about his life struggles, going beyond mere identity.

Wallin-Sato is currently a lecturer of critical race and gender studies at Cal Poly Humboldt, having earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2020.

He also earned a Master of Fine Arts at Cal State Long Beach, where he works as the prison education coordinator, assisting formerly incarcerated students.

He speaks about his problems with drug addiction, his time in prison, and how his family shaped who he is.

“I talk about really all these factors that make a human being. I wanted to reflect was how many factors play into making this person and how that’s always changing. The illusion of a fixed self is an illusion. I could be a poet, I can be a backpacker, I can be a teacher, and at the same time, being a felon, being a suicide survivor, being a sober heroin addict.”

The decision to open up about his experience allows Wallin-Sato to heal from the past.

And for readers to reflect on and heal from their own experiences.

“Talking about it now and being vulnerable now. One, it loses its power and I get to heal from this. Also at the same time, someone who reads a poem in this about my heroin addiction could relate and go “Wow, I relate to that and that makes me feel a bit more whole or connected to that person.’”

The decision to turn those past experiences into a poetry book also came naturally to Wallin-Sato, as he knows about the power that poetry can hold.

“Poetry is revolutionary. I think poetry can save the world. I mean, poetry saved ‘this world,’ [referring to himself] so that’s saving a world.” I think it has these beautiful gifts and powers to relay messages and experiences because really that’s what it does, it connects us. The more I write, the more I feel comfortable operating as this human being.”

These writings can hopefully continue that track.

“Bamboo on the Tracks: Sakura Snow and Colt Peacemaker” releases in June. Advance pre-sales can be found at Finishing Line Press.

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