Ryka Aoki is a poet, composer, and teacher and author of Seasonal Velocities, He Mele a Hilo (A Hilo Song), Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul and The Great Space Adventure. Her next novel, Light from Uncommon Stars is forthcoming from Tor Books in Fall 2021.
Ryka’s work has appeared or been recognized in Vogue, Elle, Publisher’s Weekly, Bustle, Autostraddle, PopSugar, The Daily Dot, The Guardian, Buzzfeed, The San Francisco Bay Times, and the Huffington Post. Her latest poetry was part of “Are you okay?” curated by Franny Choi at Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, and she was honored by the California State Senate for “extraordinary commitment to the visibility and well-being of Transgender people.”
Aoki’s work appears in many queer and mainstream publications and anthologies, and she was honored to work with the American Association of Hiroshima Nagasaki A-Bomb Survivors, where two of her compositions were adopted as the organization’s official “songs of peace.”
Ryka also appears in the recent documentaries “Diagnosing Difference” and “Riot Acts,” as well as writing for and acting in the award-winning film “Transfinite.”
Ryka was the inaugural performer for the first ever Transgender Stage at San Francisco Pride, and has performed in venues including the San Francisco Pride Main Stage, Barnard College, the National Queer Arts Festival, Yale University, UC Berkeley, UCLA, the University of Iceland, the University of Winnipeg, and Ladyfest South. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Cornell University and is currently a professor of English at Santa Monica College. She is Japanese-American.
She is a two-time Lambda Award finalist, and winner of the Eli Coppola Chapbook Contest, the Corson-Bishop Poetry Prize, and a University Award from the Academy of American Poets. Ryka is also a former national judo champion and the founder of the International Transgender Martial Arts Alliance.
For the past 10 years, she has directed Supernova Martial Arts, a self-defense and martial arts program, now at the Trans Latinx Coalition, and has presented self-defense seminars at conferences and special events throughout Southern California. For her work with youth, Ryka was named an Outstanding Volunteer by the LGBT Center’s Children, Youth and Family Se
rvices. (It’s her favorite award ever.)
Ryka is also Executive Director of Dissonance Press, and The After School programs at Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center, in Venice, California.
She is also a professor of English at Santa Monica College, a half-decent pianist, and is starting to learn to play the violin.