June 14, 2016 “Reading and conversation with author Ryka Aoki”

Today, June 14, 4 pm. I am reading poetry. Please come by if you can. I’ll be also talking a bit of how poetry and poets might deal with grief.

It’s a difficult time, and we all try our best to contemplate and process, look backward, move ahead. Thank you.

Brentwood Branch.
11820 San Vicente Blvd.
Los Angeles 90049
Tuesday, June 14 at 4pm.
“Reading and conversation with author Ryka Aoki”

In addition to my own work, I’ll be reading from poets incarcerated in the WWII Internment camps, Gwendolyn Brooks, DA Powell, Primo Levi, and TS Eliot.

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:


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

Trans Day of Visibililty 2016–”The Woman of Water Dreams” from Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul

Thank you to Media Diversified for letting me share some of my poetry on this Trans Day of Visibility. 

“Media Diversified is a young and growing non-profit organisation which seeks to cultivate and promote skilled writers of colour by providing advice and contacts and by promoting content online through its own platform. Live since July 2013, the initiative is already diversifying the UK’s media landscape, providing important, challenging and new content which contributes to global as well as domestic discussion on issues of issues of social justice, equality, gender, politics, economics and pop culture. In March 2015 Media Diversified launched its Experts Directory, a searchable resource for media organisations of all sizes to subscribe to.. “

Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul–Lambda Finalist (Reading May 24)

I found out recently that Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul has been recognized as a Lambda Finalist this year in the all-new category of Transgender Poetry. That is an amazing honor! Thank you, Lambda Literary. I will be reading at the Lambda Finalist reading on May 24 at the West Hollywood City Hall.

Los Angeles, CA May 24th
West Hollywood Public Library
Council Chambers – Lower Level
625 N San Vicente Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069
Reading will be in the evening with exact time to be determined.

I found out about all of this via Twitter. Three big takeaways: First, dear new writers, consider naming your book something a LOT shorter than Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul for ease of Twitter… Ugh! Second: Wow!  Holy crap!  I have some fantastic company. Third: the wonderful part about these sorts of days is you get to look out and see people you care about creating work that is finding readers. Thank you! <3 <3 <3


Reading 3/22 Laguna Hills! 1pm :)

Hope folks can come by. :) I know a lot of folks in Laguna Hills. A lot of amazing writers and people and friends, and I am so honored to be reading with them.  I’ll be reading from my latest book, Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul.

“The Spoken Word Club will feature Ryka Aoki at the March 22 meeting. Ryka Aoki is the author of Seasonal Velocities, He Mele a Hilo (A Hilo Song) and Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul. She has been honored by the California State Senate for her “extraordinary commitment to free speech and artistic expression, as well as the visibility and well-being of Transgender people.” Ryka was the 2015 Mandel Grant author at John Carroll University, and in April will be the Fred Ewing and Lola Austin Case Writer-in-Residence at Central Illinois University. Ryka has MFA in Creative Writing from Cornell University and is the recipient of a University Award from the Academy of American Poets. She is a former national judo champion, the founder of the International Transgender Martial Artists Alliance, and is a professor of English at Santa Monica College. Meeting starts at 1pm in the Redwoods Room in the Community Center. Open readers will have an opportunity to read up to 3 minutes. Membership is $10/year. Refreshments. Guests are welcomed to listen or join in ($2/mtg). For more information: contact Charlie Redner at 520-400-5955 or charlesredner@gmail.com”

Gosh, more cool stuff…from The Frisky!

I am so grateful people are reading this book! Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul was released kind of quietly, but I really worked on this book–and am really happy with the results. It is not an easy book–it was written from a different, darker place than He Mele A Hilo, and even Seasonal Velocities–and it took a lot of time and control to make the poetry come out as it did. I think it’s one of my very best.

So anyway, in addition to the amazing review on Lambda, here’s another list in The Frisky! Six Modern-Day Queer Poets You Must Read. :)


<3 Ryka

Books By Trans and Non-Binary Authors–Thank You!

Gosh, all three of my books made this list for World Book Day! <3 Thank you!

Lambda Literary Review: Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul

I wrote a review of Ryka Aoki‘s book of poems! TL:DR It is very, very good and you should read it. The book, not the review. Although the review is pretty fabulous too :)–Cat Fitzpatrick

“It is through this complex grasping, not only of the minutiae of living, but of the minutiae of speaking, that these poems are able to talk about death and loss in the trans community without stooping to pity, without presenting our grief as an item for consumption. The details are heartbreaking, but the voice is unbroken.


Thanksgiving, Biyuti Press, The Guardian, and Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul

A day or two ago, Cat Fitzpatrick wrote this great article for the Guardian about trans people and their poetry.  My work is mentioned there, as well as three presses I’ve worked with: Topside, Trans-Genre, and Biyuti.

I want to talk a bit about Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul. It is my first book entirely dedicated toward poetry and the life of being basically a queer poet trying to find a reason to go on. I wrote this after the deaths of two friends. Both were trans women. One I knew well; one, I had met only recently. One died from complications associated with AIDS; the other chose to end her life.

It was an extremely difficult book to write. But it addressed matters I could only access through poetry. I write poems, prose, essays. But I have a very different mindset when I work with each form. With poetry, I am most brutal; most direct. If I am pissed about something, or indignant, I will tell you. If I love you, I won’t hide. The form of poetry, even at its freest, still imposes line breaks and beat. I use the formality of poetry as the wall I press against when trying to sleep in an abusive household. I’d like to think, though, in poetry, I create my best lines, and find the best word. Pressure makes things that sparkle, be they diamonds, metaphors, or tears. I think Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul is not so accessible as He Mele A Hilo, nor even Seasonal Velocities. But for those who read it, consider it a gift of my heart. <3

On this day of Thanksgiving 2015, I am most thankful for the lives, the souls, the experiences–those I love and care for with a fire and fury that only poetry can hope to touch.

Peace, love, and revolution,


Thank you to Cat and Topside Press for selecting from Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul as your first Poem of the Week!

Why Dust Shall Settle Upon This Soul has had a very quiet opening–I suppose that part of it has to do with the fact that I’ve been working on my taxes and the forthcoming tour for He Mele A Hilo. Some of it, though, is that poetry is very different from novels. The subject matter of this book is more immediate and intense than I can put into a novel–that’s one reason I chose to write these thoughts as poems rather than stories. I’m not complaining. I feel very lucky to have these books both out.

However, I do hope this book, in its own way finds its readers. In this light, any time someone talks about or reviews this book, it is especially meaningful to me. And, just last week, Cat Fitzpatrick excerpted part of this book as Topside’s first “Poem of the Week.” I am thrilled both by its inclusion and Cat’s thoughtful analysis. :) I enjoyed reading her take on the poem–not exactly my own, but that is what makes poetry so magic, right? :D So grateful. You can read the excerpt right here!