Visiting Northern Arizona University! :)

imgres-1So, this February, I was at Northern Arizona University. I had an excellent time–but gosh, it was my first reading after the election (I chose not to attend the AWP–more on that in another post). I was struck by how resilient and brave the students and the faculty at NAU are–but stunned that at a time when we should be celebrating and nurturing our best and brightest, we are forcing them to fight for their identities, their voices, and even their safety.

This is not an indictment of a school, or a locality–but a bigger problem we seem to have as a country–why do we distrust our young?  Why do we see them as competitors, as other–when they should be seen as our legacy? As a teacher, this simply befuddles me.

But, yes, the students at NAU, and the faculty, and the people I hung out with… I was treated with so much kindness and gratitude. And I return that. Thank you so much!

 

:)
Ryka

 

Matador Review Interview and a bit More

Hi All,

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So, yes, the Matador Review asked me to chat with them, and gosh, we covered so many things! I really enjoyed this interview because it covered some different ground, and I’m in a different place in my life–so it’s neat to see how my answers and thoughts are evolving and refining with time. The interview is here (http://www.matadorreview.com/ryka-aoki), and it there are also other excellent interviews, literature, and images.

I think a big difference between now and previous interviews is that I am a lot more alone than I was before, and am thinking much more on how community functions to cultivate its own artists. Not all artists can do it alone, and though they are admirable, being a self-sufficient warrior should not be a prerequisite to developing and thriving as an artist. There is room for all experiences.

Or there should be.

<3
Ryka

March 25 Story Slam

It is has been a very busy time! This afternoon, I am going to be part of this!

http://grandparkla.org/event/proud-story-slam/

Part of Grand Park’s ongoing PROUD Series celebrating LGBTQ L.A., the PROUD Story Slam  presents narratives about how Los Angeles connects us no matter who we are or whom we love. From L.A. gay rights pioneers to Angeleno trans comedians, hear amazing stories that transcend geography, generation, gender, race and background. Be prepared to laugh and perhaps even shed a tear.

Please come by! Thank you!!!!
Ryka

Thank You to The James Franco Review

The James Franco Review just posted an essay I wrote. It was not an easy essay for me to write. However I am so grateful to have the chance to write it. 

<3

Ryka

 

He Mele A Hilo shows up in Vela! :D

This morning, I woke up to a bunch of tweets about an article from the wonderful Trish Salah on Six Debut Novels by Trans Women. :) And I found He Mele A Hilo on the list. I am really happy to be on this list, with some amazing authors.  

Thank you to Trish and to Vela!

<3

Ryka

1. Ryka Aoki, He Mele A Hilo: A Hilo Song

Ryka Aoki’s He Mele A Hilo: A Hilo Song is a gorgeously rambling ensemble tale of postcolonial living in Hawaii, which is by turns meditative and sorrowful— but mostly comic, verging on hilarious. In fact, Aoki had me laughing before I’d even begun to read the story proper, with the Mahalo! that welcomes the reader, not without irony: “Use the Glossary at the back of the book and soon you’ll feel like a local!”

★ A Starred Review from Library Journal!

Library Journal ”is the most trusted and respected publication for the library community. Built on more than a century of quality journalism and reviews, LJ provides groundbreaking features and analytical news reports covering technology, management, policy and other professional concerns to public, academic and institutional libraries.”

Library Journal has been around for 140 years. And this past June–it reviewed Seasonal Velocities and gave it a starred review! I am so honored!

★ Aoki, Ryka. Seasonal Velocities. Trans-Genre. 2012. 139p. ISBN 9780985110505. pap. $14.95.
This collection of poems, stories, speeches, and performance art is passionate and evocative. All of Aoki’s works have been stunning; an excellent introduction.

As other writers, I work very, very hard to put my best work on the page, and when my words can touch a reader–that is the best feeling.

Thank you so much to Library Journal, and to everyone who has enjoyed Seasonal Velocities.

<3

Ryka

PS–For any libraries or bookstores, Seasonal Velocities should now be a lot easier to acquire, as it is being distributed by Ingram. You can also just get it from Amazon.

PPS–Yes, I am working on another book of essays to address whats been happening since my first book appeared. <3  More news in Summer/Fall 2017.

Being a Fiction Editor for The James Franco Review :)

I enjoyed being the guest fiction editor for Issue 8! Here’s my intro to the section. 

Take good care!
Ryka

Sept 15–Literary Death Match!

Well, it’s been a bit since I have updated. But I’ve been busy! This THURSDAY, Sept 15 I am taking part in Literary Death Match! I am looking forward to this so much! <3

Please come by!!!

READERS: 
* Jon Klassen, American Caldecott and British Kate Greenaway Medal-winning author of This is Not My Hat
* Nadja Spiegelman, graphic novelist, author of the new memoir I’m Supposed to Protect You from All This
Antonio Sacre
, performer and author of My Name is Cool: Stories from a Cuban-Irish-American Storyteller 
* Ryka Aoki
, poet and author of Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul (2016 Lambda Literary Finalist)

Where: Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd, LA (map)
When: show at 7:30pm sharp, doors at 6:30pm (afterdrinks after!)
Cost: FREE (join LDM’s mailing list for a reminder)

http://www.literarydeathmatch.com/upcoming-events/sept-15-at-hammer-museum.html

Cornell University, AAPI Heritage Month 2016: More Than Just Yellow

“With APAA’s #MoreThanJustYellow Campaign, we wish to highlight traditionally underrepresented Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the API community. The silenced histories of these groups have lead to injustices such as the exclusion of brown folks, erasure of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, and anti-blackness. Let’s critically examine who in the API community gets to be represented and who is left out. Let’s consider queer, black Asians, South Asians, Southeast Asians, Pacific Islanders, APIs with disabilities and low income APIs. Let’s remember that while Asians might be considered the model minority, there are still large problems in our society. Let’s remember that the API community is more than just yellow. By addressing their stories, we hope to reshape what is considered API at Cornell University.”

So honored to be listed here! There is so much work that needs to be done, though. Between the arrogance of Hollywood erasing us, the cowardice of our communities hiding behind our own prejudices, and the preconceptions of other groups thinking godknowswhat about us, it’s not the most chill time to be Asian American. But I think it’s still pretty neat. There’s a lot we can do, a lot we can learn, a lot we can share. If you are reading this, you most likely know me, but please take a bit of time to maybe read up on some of these other amazing folks. Kit Yan, Marilyn Chin, Julie Sze… Check them out. Support their work. Share. <3 Much love, Ryka

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A Recording: The Woman of Water Dreams

A couple of days ago, a student at the University of Sheffield sent me this very nice note:

“Hello!

I am writing about the above poem in an essay for a studying poetry module, I do English Literature and Philosophy at the University of Sheffield and I’m writing on the question “Is gender insignificant”. I would love to hear a recording of you reading it so I can understand the poem more fully.”

So, I figured this was as good a time as any to start recording some of my work. This it what I ended up recording.  Looks like a good step toward an audio book, maybe?

<3 Ryka