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If you want to follow along, I’ve been writing a newsletter called ‘ritualistic’ about creative process. You can find it here.

Sending all the love and hugs x

Room’s 2021 Emerging Writer Award

Erica stands against a brick wall. Text annouces her win as Room's Emerging Writer Award winner

Thank you so much to Room Magazine for selecting me for the 2021 Emerging Writer Award. This was very unexpected and a really wonderful surprise, truly welcomed in our current times. It is an honour to have my work recognized.

My story “Pink + Green” appeared in last year’s Room (issue 43.2), edited by Jessica Johns. It was really cool to hear how the Emerging Writer Award is voted upon by the Room collective after editors select their nominees and find out that my work resonated with so many others.

For the award, Roomʼs Tamara Jong interviewed me to discuss the craft of my creative non-fiction work in “Pink + Green,” the power in the language of names, and drawing diary comics during the pandemic.

You can read the interview here, which also includes my latest bird comic!

New essay: “Lessons For Future Ancestors”

Photo collage of moths, devils club plant and Erica in the forest
Moth photo taken by me; Devil’s Club and creek photos by Hiromi Goto

Back in September, my mentor Hiromi and I spent the day together in the forested valley of Ch’ich eliwxih. It was the last time we visited together in person, right before the smoke from the wildfires made it impossible for me to go outside. We were incredibly lucky to have this day.

I wrote an essay for Room about our mentorship relationship, the many aspects of learning, and finding one’s place as a diasporic artist. The piece takes place in the forest where we walked (practicing shinrin-yoku 森林浴 one could say) and where a Japanese settlement existed in the early 1900’s, before the war and internment years.

It’s available to read here on Room.

Interview in The Bulletin

“I use creative tools to uncover emotional truths that are difficult to face head-on. The stories that live within me and my lineage as a fourth-generation Japanese and Chinese Canadian aren’t always pretty, but writing can make them easier to share with others.”

I was recently interviewed in The Bulletin alongside author Hiromi Goto (my writing mentor!) about our intergenerational mentorship, writing as Japanese Canadians, and finding inspiration in quarantine.

The Bulletin magazine sits open to page title "Bulletin Interview: Hiromi Goto and Erica Isomura

Thank you to John Endo Greenaway for these thoughtful questions and for including us in this issue, which also features the Powell Street Festival 2020 program!

The interview is available here.

The Bulletin magazine sits on a coffee table beside a vase of flowers, the cover image features a woman in a blue kimono wearing a face mask with the heading "44th annual Powell Street Festival: Celebrating Japanese Canadian Art and Culture"

New creative non-fiction “Pink + Green”

Two summers ago, an orca carried her dead calf for more than 1,600 km in what scientists called an ‘unprecedented’ display of grief. This past year, I carried my own grief across a span that felt like the Pacific Ocean. “Pink + Green” is about loss, heartache, and healing.

I’m excited to share that this piece of writing is published in the latest issue of Room.

Magazine pages open to piece title "Pink + Green" by erica hiroko isomura

Thank you to Room editor Jessica Johns and assistant editors Kayi Wong, and Mica Lemiski. As a reader, I really appreciate the thought-provoking work that appear in Room.

Cover of Room Magazine with three brown arms holding a tea bag, sex toy, and lighting a candle

“Devour. Devour isn’t simply ingesting. It’s to consume ravishly. To completely and wholly take something in.

In June 2020, issue 43.2 Devour will be printed and out in the world, which feels extra special to me at this moment in time. Reading these pages and the stories they hold took me in. Completely and wholly. Perhaps they will do the same for you.”
– Jessica Johns in “Letter from the Editor”

In print beside Eden Robinson :o

The Festival of Literary Diversity selected my essay “FOR THE DREAMERS” to appear in their 5th anniversary program! Will always remember this as the time my writing appeared in print beside Eden Robinson (swoon!), among many other incredible writers.

Screencap of erica hiroko's essay with title FOR THE DREAMERS

The 2020 FOLD festival program features essays and poetry from some of Canada’s most exciting writers as well as an overview of our first virtual festival.” Read it in full here.

For us, by us

ensoku 2019 brought young Japanese Canadians and Americans together in unprecedented Vancouver cultural event

photos by Kayla Isomura

Over the May long weekend, 40 young-ish Japanese Canadians, Japanese Americans, and their friends came together to build community and explore our shared heritage and identity. What started as an idea to organize a regional young people’s conference became an independently organized “un-conference.” 

This community gathering welcomed local attendees from across the Lower Mainland and out-of-town visitors from Canadian cities including Victoria, Kamloops, Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg, Toronto, and Ottawa. This was truly an international event with Japanese American participants travelling from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, and Massachusetts! 

The full weekend event included a gyoza-making workshop, an open mic with poetry and storytelling, dialogues on present-day Japanese Canadian experiences (connecting to culture, TLGBQ+ and multi-racial identities), an intergenerational community lunch, a stop-motion animation workshop, cross-cultural walking tour of Strathcona, and optional day trips to the Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre, Steveston, and Tashme. Lots of fun was had and many new meaningful relationships were built.

Participants shared the following about their experiences at ensoku: 

“ensoku reinforced the importance of storytelling and creative expression for our community, which I’m coming to see as key.”

“There’s a lot of younger Japanese-Canadians who are interested in connecting (with each other and with their history and culture).”

“We need each other and are richer for having this community.”

“I am now hoping to find the Nikkei community within my own city and province.”

As organizers, we were committed to making this event financially accessible. Because of the support of so many organizations and individuals, we were able to provide subsidies for participants to attend and billets for out-of-town guests. 

An event like ensoku is one-of-a-kind. While we have no current plans to turn this into an annual event, participants from other cities have expressed interest in organizing an event like this in their home cities of Regina, Ottawa, Seattle, and Toronto. 

We will definitely take these memories and experiences forward into organizing new gatherings and community initiatives in the future. 

On behalf of the organizing committee, our sincerest thanks to everyone who attended, volunteered, and donated goods or cash to made this event possible. 


ensoku organizers
Kayla Isomura, Erica Isomura, Davin Shikaze, Carolyn Nakagawa, Reiko Pleau, & Lisa Uyeda

Please see The Bulletin for a full list of thank yous and photos from ensoku 2019. 


Essay “FOR THE DREAMERS” in Briarpatch

photo by Kayla Isomura as part of The Suitcase Project

Nobody talked about our family history while I was growing up, so I’ve been working toward uncovering it on my own. Sometimes I get so immersed that I forget how heavy-hearted it all is. When I am able to pause and pull away, see it through someone else’s eyes, or relate it to the present day, my heart gets whomped.

I wonder, how can I feel such heartache while simultaneously falling in love for the first time?

– excerpt from FOR THE DREAMERS, as published in the March/April issue of Briarpatch Magazine

I’m excited (and nervous!) to share the link to my essay FOR THE DREAMERS, which is now published in the March/April 2019 issue of Briarpatch Magazine. This essay was selected by author Alicia Elliot as the winner of  Briarpatch Magazine’s Writing in the Margins contest for creative non-fiction.

I’ve had a hard time knowing how to describe this piece (if you read it, you might have a better understanding of why), but here are a few things my friends have said about it:

“This essay…is real, achey, and beautiful.” – Angela

“I have a big feeling caught in my throat for how important this essay is to me, for how much the fragmented nature of this essay exactly captures the difficulty I have articulating my grief over climate change, and family history, and the way everything is intertwined.” – Laura

“my fave time 2 read this is when ur feelin sad n determined to heal.” – Tom

I really appreciate the reflections others have shared with me who have felt this piece resonate with them, whether other writers, community organizers, activists, artists, people of colour, millennials, and beyond.

At times, I find it hard to speak the words I know that need to be said out loud. Writing as a medium feels like a vessel through which I can share my perspectives amidst the nuances of our complicated realities. Thank you for reading and responding.

A big thank you to my friends who read this essay in various drafted forms, mentors Kevin Chong and Jackie Wong for the constant encouragement, my TWS crew, contest judge Alicia Elliot, and Briarpatch editor Saima. Congratulations to my sister Kayla Isomura whose photo essay If only they knew what we know now was selected by Jalani Morgan as the winner of the photography category. Please also read “dis place” by Angel Sutjipto, the honourable mention in this contest, for a piece which is equally powerful and stunning.

sending warmth and care,


Writing in the Margins contest

It feels very surreal to share that an essay I wrote was selected by Alicia Elliott as the winner of Briarpatch Magazine’s annual creative writing contest. Also super cool that my hardworking sister Kayla Isomura won in the photography category with an excerpt of her very powerful photo series, The Suitcase Project! 😍

Thank you to friends who encouraged me to enter and who read previous drafts of my piece!

update: The piece is now available to read online.

xo e