Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Sachiko Murakami

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Sachiko Murakami is the author of the poetry collections The Invisibility Exhibit (Talonbooks, 2008), a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, and Rebuild (Talonbooks, 2011). She has been a literary worker for numerous presses, journals and organizations and is Poetry Editor for Insomniac Press. She is the initiator of the online collaborative poetry projects Project Rebuild and She lives in Toronto.

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Poets in Profile: Sachiko Murakami

Sachiko Murakami is Open Book: Toronto's December 2012 Writer in Residence.

Open Book:

Can you describe an experience that you believe contributed to your becoming a poet?


Sachiko Murakami:

I don’t think I would become a poet if I hadn’t had a lot of support and encouragement. My self-esteem was cripplingly low for so many years, and I could barely get out of bed without a lot of cheerleaders. I was dragged to meet Esta Spalding when she came by the Chapters I worked at as a one-day Writer-in-Residence, and I sat and shook and wept with fear as she read my poems. She told me to enroll in a poetry workshop, and I did. Then the instructor of that workshop, Shannon Stewart, encouraged me to pursue graduate work in creative writing, and I did. Then at Concordia, I got to work on my master’s thesis, which became my first book. It was there that I discovered that writing takes place in community. All my friends were poets and academics, and I started talking about writing and writers and attending readings and making chapbooks and subscribing to journals... and I’ve continued to participate in the writing life as fully as I can. So I went from a terrified girl secretly writing poems to Poetry Editor for Insomniac Press, former co-host of a fantastic reading series, author of two books, sometime creative writing instructor… all because someone pushed me into one conversation with one person. I think poets tend to be inward people, but as far as I can tell, this writing thing happens when I am connected to my writing community.


By Sachiko Murakami

From the publisher:

Murakami approaches the urban centre through its inhabitants’ greatest passion: real estate, where the drive to own is coupled with the practice of tearing down and rebuilding. Like Dubai, where the marina looks remarkably like False Creek, Vancouver has become as much a city of cranes and excavation sites as it is of ocean and landscape. Rebuild engraves itself on the absence at the city’s centre, with its vacant civic square and its bulldozed public spaces. The poems crumble in the time it takes to turn the page, words flaking from the line like the rain-damaged stucco of a leaky condominium.

Read more about Rebuild at the Talon Books website.

Recent Writer In Residence Posts

Literary Holiday Parties: Jack Kirchoff and Robert Dayton, The Canadian Romantic

What? It's NYE? I guess this is my last OBT post, then. OMG. WTF. ETC. I've had a lot of fun blogging here this month. Thanks for reading! I'll let Jack Kirchoff and Robert Dayton take us out, with the final answer to the final question:

You're having a holiday party, and can invite any number of literary figures, living, dead, or fictional - who's invited, and why?

Jack Kirchoff

Going to an airport? Help me write GET ME OUT OF HERE!

Move the Haida masks: all I want to see is your face.

Heather Jessup, YHZ-(YYC)-YVR December 4, 2012


Have you been to an airport since November 23? Will you be in one before February 28? Yes? Then sharpen your skills of observation - I want you to help me write my next manuscript!

I have been reading and writing about airports for the past year. They are fascinating places. It is a point of departure and reunion; our first look at a new place with little in common with the place beyond its glass and concrete walls. It is a place where we surrender our bodies to surveillance, where we surrender our water at the gate, where we wait, and wait, and wait.

CWILA's call to action in support of Chief Theresa Spence and Idle No More

I've spent the past while embroiled in holiday parties and preparations and shuttling from here to there and wrapping of presents and dealing with the failures of my body. Meanwhile, beyond the confines of my sickbed, Chief Theresa Spence has been on hunger strike since December 11, and the Idle No More movement has been shaking the country from coast to coast.

I received an email from Canadian Women in the Literary Arts (CWILA) yesterday urging me to write letters in support of Chief Spence and the Idle No More movement. From that call:

Literary Holiday Parties: Gowan, Moore, Munday (with a preamble on How Very Sick I Have Been)

Happy Boxing Day, everyone! Is everyone enjoying themselves in bed with a hot coffee and a dog snoozing at their feet? Or are you at a mall, or an outlet mall, or in a line somewhere with your credit card clutched in your trembling fist? I hope the former. Much cozier.

Booksellers are Holiday Heroes: Chris Szego, Bakka Phoenix Books

"I liked this book… So what else can you recommend?"

"Give me the names of two other books you like so I can triangulate your tastes."

Happy B'ak'tun Eve! Or, finish my poem

Tomorrow marks the end of the cycle of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar. (I think. I'm not so good with math, me.) In celebration, I’ve written a poem that wends through history and events Wikipedia tells me happened (or could have happened) around the time the long count moved into a new b’ak’tun, or Long Count period. (It also addresses my illogical fear of asteroids hitting Earth, which has been in high gear all week.) Today, on, the eve of, I offer a poem, and a make a request – that you finish it!

Literary Holiday Parties: Moure, Reimer, Savigny

You're having a holiday party, and can invite any number of literary figures, living, dead, or fictional - who's invited, and why?

Here and in the coming weeks, I'll post the many answers I received to this question! Today's theme is "answers from more awesome poets".

Erín Moure

Booksellers are Holiday Heroes: Ian Donker, Book City

I looked up and into the depths of my calendar to discover that Christmas is a week away. Luckily, I have the likes of extremely helpful and patient booksellers all across the city to help me when I fly through the doors in a panic. Today's answers on holiday bookselling come from Ian Donker of Book City. I visited Ian in The Beach store (1950 Queen Street East), which had a completely different feel from the Book City in the Annex that I usually frequent.

On fear

I want to post a literary party and bookseller feature today. I really do. I want to pretend that only good things are happening right now, but I’ve been reading the news and blog posts and my Facebook feed. People are reacting and responding to the Connecticut tragedy. People are preparing for the release of the BC Missing Women Commission Inquiry report released today. Everywhere I turn there is grief and moral outrage. I see fingers being pointed, I see hands pressed together in prayer, I see the comment streams grow longer and longer.

I certainly don’t have a solution to any of it. All I have right now is an overwhelming fear that is pulsing through every part of my body that isn’t numb with tension. I can barely even identify where it comes from.

Literary Holiday Parties: Beattie, McGimpsey, Porco

You're having a holiday party, and can invite any number of literary figures, living, dead, or fictional - who's invited, and why?

Here and in the coming weeks, I'll post the many answers I received to this question! Today's theme is "dudes", as in "here are three dudes who answered my question. Dude."

Steven W. Beattie

Well, at a shot, the guest list might look something like this:

Booksellers are Holiday Heroes: Alex Denike, Another Story Bookshop

As part of my work here at OBT, I've been scooting around the city talking to booksellers at Toronto's independent bookstores to get the lowdown on the good, the bad, and the frantic, jingly excitement of the holidays. Chances are that you will have to go out into the retail wild this month. Wouldn't you rather step in a bookstore?

The first bookseller I spoke for this series is Alex Denike of Another Story Bookshop!

Literary Holiday Parties: Surani, Toane, Winger

You're having a holiday party, and can invite any number of literary figures, living, dead, or fictional - who's invited, and why?

I've asked literary figures near and far the answer to this question. Poets seem to have been eager to reply, so here are three answers from three more lovely poets!


Moez Surani

Booksellers are Holiday Heroes: Introduction

If the word Christmas evokes for you only images of silent snowdrifts, twinkly lights, plates of sugar-dusted cookies and crackling fires, friends and families gathered around the hearth with drowsy, placid smiles, you clearly have never worked in retail.

My father owned a small business when I was growing up that specialized in selling car audio equipment to car-loving suburbanites. Christmas meant a tense and hushed month of twelve-hour shifts, foul tempers, and Hungry Man dinners. Christmas day was the day-before-Boxing-Day. We alleviated stress with mountains of shortbread and Die Hard 2. December 27 was when the holidays really started – until someone invented Boxing Week.

Literary Holiday Parties: Gary Barwin

You're having a holiday party, and can invite any number of literary figures, living, dead, or fictional - who's invited, and why?
Here and in the coming weeks, I'll post the many answers I received to this question!
Today's space is occupied entirely by the loveably verbose Gary Barwin.

Since this is the best kind of holiday, the imaginary kind, and time and space are illusory (I’ve had apartments like that), the thought occurred to me – ok, as most good entertaining ideas do,

Literary Holiday Parties: Scheier, rawlings, Richardson

You're having a holiday party, and can invite any number of literary figures, living, dead, or fictional - who's invited, and why?
Here and in the coming weeks, I'll post the many answers I received to this question!
Jacob Scheier
I would invite a combination of writers whose work I admire, and whose personalities seem, based on biographical information and their work, really fascinating.

Literary Holiday Parties

December is a month of gatherings: of office parties and hangovers laced with the dull thud of regret; of family reunions with drunken uncles mollified by carb- and turkey-induced drowsiness; of doorbells ringing, and leftover, hoarded stuffing, and sitting around tables and hearths and Starbuckses with loved ones and relations and frenemies.  

All this gathering takes a lot of planning. I’ve been doing some planning of my own, and asking writers, and editors and publishing types this question:

You’re having an imaginary literary holiday dinner, and can invite any - and as many as you like - living, dead, fictional, literary figures. Who do you invite, and why?

Welcome, welcome

It's my first post as OBT's Writer in Residence, and my first day back in Toronto after a week in Costa Rica. My partner Tim just kissed me goodbye as he left for work, and so begins my first moments alone after seven days of constant companionship.

But it's December, the month of lasts, not firsts: of conclusions, finality, and quiet reflection. It's a month of travelling, and particularly in our wide, ungainly country, a month of sitting around in airports. It's also the month of last-minute shopping.

So: lasts, air travel, and the holidays will be the themes of my residency here at OBT.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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