Where Are They Now?
By Carol Olechowski
t age 85, poet Naoshi Koriyama, B.A.’54 (Spring 2002, “The Poetry of Friendship”), continues his life’s work from his home in Kanagawa, Japan. The retired Toyo University professor of English is working with American scholar Bruce Allen on a “delightful, enjoyable and ambitious project: a translation of selected tales from the huge 12th-century anthology of Japan, Konjaku Monogatari (Tales of Old Times).”
Koriyama recently published his first Japanese-language work, Shijinno Inryoku (The Poet’s Pulling Power). The collection “includes ‘A Loaf of Poetry,’ ‘Unfolding Bud,’ ‘Jetliner,’ ‘Time and Space,’ ‘Summer on the Home Island,’ and others which have been reprinted in about 26 grade-, middle- and high-school anthologies in America, Canada, Australia and South Africa,” says Koriyama.
His talent was nurtured six decades ago at the New York State College for Teachers. As a transfer student from the University of New Mexico, Koriyama “felt quite lost,” but “Miss Vivian Hopkins and the other professors were very kind and helped me adjust.” He took up writing poetry at Hopkins’ suggestion: “As I wrote in one of my poems, ‘All the poems I have written, I owe you (Miss Hopkins).”
A staunch opponent of nuclear power, Koriyama notes that “about 20,000 people lost their lives and are still missing” as a result of the massive earthquake, tsunami and nuclear plant meltdown that struck Japan in 2011. “Those who lost their family members and homes are trying courageously to start their lives. The deplorable nuclear plant disaster has deprived many people of their farms, houses and cattle. Many are now in favor of stopping the nuclear power plants,” observes Koriyama, a translator of Against Nuclear Weapons: A Collection of Poems by 181 Poets, 1945-2007.
nable to answer his middle-school-age daughter’s question, “Daddy, did we have any relatives who came through Ellis Island?” Nolan Altman, B.S.’77, set out to document and publish his family’s history. Now, the president of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Long Island (JGSLI) is working with Center for Jewish Studies Interim Director Barry Trachtenberg to “engage younger people in genealogy.”
To that end, UAlbany students visited local Jewish cemeteries to “help index and photograph tombstones and catalogue memorial plaques from two synagogues.” The information gathered will be added to JOWBR, JewishGen’s Online Worldwide Burial Registry database, to “create historical indexes and benefit the greater Jewish genealogical community.” Altman, JewishGen’s vice president for Data Acquisition and International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) board member, hopes other organizations can replicate the project, which gave many of the students “a real appreciation for family history and ancestors.”
Altman, who teaches Introductory Accounting and Business Organizations and Management as an adjunct at Queensborough Community College, also heads his own firm, Oceanside, N.Y.-based NTA Consulting.
The University at Albany Alumni Association will honor Altman in April with the Excellence in Alumni Service Award.