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publication Archives - erica hiroko isomura

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.

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.

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,

e

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

Writers 4 Utopia, CYCLES issue

My short fiction piece “shades of brown exist in the forest” appears in CYCLES, the latest queer sci-fi zine from Writers 4 Utopia:

“In this issue we’re constructing futures that may or may not be utopic, but they’re all queer af. Our stories imagine underwater transatlantic railways, Salem witch trials revisited, clone siblings on deserted islands, vampires finding love, carnival rides that heal regret, the co-workers who hold the cosmos together: outsiders from this world and other worlds. We’re happy you’re joining us on this wild cycle of a ride.”

Pick up a copy online.

emerge 18 anthology & reading

Very excited to have two short pieces of fiction in the latest emerge 18 anthology.

A big thank you to the editors, publishers, all the authors, and everyone else who was involved in the process of producing emerge 18 It’s really special.

I will be reading at the upcoming emerge event as part of the Vancouver Writer’s Festival on Sunday, October 21, 2018 at 1pm. This event is free and taking place at the Revue Stage on Granville Island.

See all details on The Writer’s Festival website here.

Hope to see you there.

Our Edible Roots: The Japanese Canadian Kitchen Garden

I’m excited to announce that Our Edible Roots, a book I have spent the past year working on with Tonari Gumi Gardeners, will soon be available!

Our Edible Roots: The Japanese Canadian Kitchen Garden is a cumulation of Japanese Canadian history and culinary identity since before the Second World War until today. This book features interviews, stories, recipes, and growing tips from local Japanese Canadian farmers, gardeners, elders, youth, and other contributors.

This book showcases growing and foraging tips and stories from seasoned gardeners with 40 delicious recipes highlighting these unique Japanese vegetables. Guides to using Japanese ingredients and methods for traditional culinary techniques are also included. As contributor Makiko Suzuki says, “perhaps the most important highlight is the telling of the Japanese Canadian experience through stories and interviews with community elders.”

We invite you to celebrate these stories and pick up a copy of the book for yourself at the following upcoming (and free!) events…

You can also purchase this book online or find copies for sale at the Tonari Gumi gift shop, Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre, West Coast Seeds garden shop, and Gulf of Georgia Cannery. If you would like to inquire about purchasing bulk orders at a reduced price, please email tg.gardeners@gmail.com.

This was an incredible community project driven by the passion and commitment of countless volunteers. All book sales proceeds will support the seniors lunch program at Tonari Gumi Japanese Community Volunteers Association.

Poetry is Dead: Coven issue launch

Group of people holding Poetry is Dead magazines in hands / Erica reading from Poetry is Dead coven issue

It was really exhilarating to read at the Poetry is Dead Coven launch. Might’ve been partially from the rush of trying to get to the venue in time from the ferry with a car full of pals + camping gear. In any case, we made it!

After I introduced through my bio (yes, I am a triple scorpio) and I read my poetry, I’m not sure if the audience reacted more to my work or to the number of placements I have in scorpio. I didn’t even mention my mars…!

In any case, the other poets I got to catch reading were wonderful and hilarious. This issue is totally my jam – packed full of queer witchiness, astrology, and healing remedies. I feel really honoured to be published alongside these amazing poets.

Thank you to guest editors Leah Horlick and Adele Barclay and to everyone else at Poetry is Dead.

You can pick up a copy for yourself here. Support local literary magazines!