I wasn’t born in the states. But I wasn’t exactly born in Japan. I was born on a Navy Base in Japan…which complicates the idea of belonging. I can’t tell you what home is, or what home feels like. But sometimes I feel I’ve come close to feeling at home. The Pacific Ocean, for instance, gives me a feeling I can only describe as relief. It’s the same feeling I get when I walk into an Asian grocery store. Familiar smells and sights and sounds that bring me to myself just a little bit more.
And Seattle, this state in general, has seemed to give me a space of my own.
When the Seattle Review of Books published my poem “My Heart the Size of a Tea Kettle,” it’s hard to express how much that meant to me. To be located, recognized, in the place where I live, as if, maybe, this is my home, this community my family.
I still can’t tell you what home is…or if Washington is one for me, even after all these years. But even if I am a guest, I don’t think I’ve overstayed my welcome. I still greet this place with a sense of joy and feel I’ve many years to give here.
It has been a while since I’ve written here. There have been so many wonderful things in my life I hardly know where to begin. I had the opportunity to work with (and sponsor) several wonderful, emerging writers in Washington. I read their chapbooks and offered comments, then we sent them along to a contest. I am excited for them and regardless of the outcome those writers should be proud of their work, their craft, and unique voices. Such different approaches to experience and poetry…it was rejuvenating. I’m currently a guest poetry editor for Tahoma Literary Review and again am stunned by the quality and generosity of the literary world. I’ve also been involved in several readings, one in Port Townsend, a wonderful place where deer just roam around and people walk by them like they’re not complete miracles.
And, perhaps most noticeably (to me at least), over the past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to hold in my hands my very first full-length book of poetry. It has been a very exciting couple months and the attention has been overwhelming (I’m easily overwhelmed). With more readings and a trip to AWP in LA coming up I don’t see it slowing down. But whenever there is a quiet moment I meditate on this point of my life and am filled with gratitude. Here’s to your quiet moments as well.
Back in July I wrote a post titled “Actions Speak Louder, and Words.” Essentially I want whatever increased visibility I acquired by winning the Floating Bridge Press Chapbook Award to go toward helping out a fellow Washington state poet. If you’re an emerging poet (no previous book publications) who belongs to a traditionally underrepresented group, this is for you.
I plan on paying for at least one poet’s contest entry for the Floating Bridge Press Chapbook Award (Deadline March 1st, 2016) Not only that but I will also offer a full editorial critique of the chapbook the poet(s) plans on submitting. This way I not only continue supporting a press I admire but can also encourage local, emerging poets while advocating for diversity in literature.
If you have a chapbook you feel is ready and you want to submit to Floating Bridge Press (or have in the past), let’s connect! By December 15th send me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org):
1) a page or two maximum from your chapbook
2) some information about yourself (ultimately I want to read something that will make me want to root for you)
I wish I could fund/help everyone but since my resources are limited I’m probably going to have to make decisions among several poets. My ideal is that we can work together and not just strengthen your chapbook but stimulate conversation and community.
So are you in? I can’t wait to hear from you!