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news – erica hiroko isomura

newsletter news


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.

Performance at the MacKenzie Art Gallery

I’ll be reading my work for the MacKenzie Art Gallery at the digital launch of a special publication by Briarpatch, created in conjunction with the MacKenzie’s exhibition Human Capital.

Human Capital presents work that offers insight into the impact of Canada’s immigration policies and history: how it treats humans as capital, and the role it plays in shaping the complex and contested the formation of a “Canadian identity.”

The event was recorded and is now available to watch online.

Thank you to Tak Pham from the MacKenzie Art Gallery for inviting me to perform and share my writing published in Briarpatch at this event. The publication launch also featured a panel discussion with Gabriel Allahdua, Joely BigEagle-Kequahtooway, and Andrew Stevens, which you can watch and listen to on YouTube.

The digital publication of Human Capital is now available to read online, too! I encourage you to check it out! There is some amazing work in it and the design work by Emmie Tsumura is awesome. The digital publication seeks to expand conversations around Canada’s immigration policy, and issues of migrant justice and features both new commissions and past work from the Briarpatch’s publication archive.

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.

Dead Poets Reading: Mary Oliver

Isabella Wang from the Dead Poets Reading series invited me to contribute to their covid pivot of this in-person reading series. I filmed a reading from Mary Oliver’s “New and Selected Poems, Volume 1” in my bedroom a couple months ago.

This reading includes “Some Questions You Might Ask,” “Sunrise,” and the infamous “Wild Geese.”

To be honest, reading poetry aloud from bed is still a mood.

Linked here if you would like to enjoy!

text reads Dead Poets Reading Series in a serif font

On March 15, 2020, the Dead Poets Reading Series was cancelled due to the recent Covid-19 outbreak, in order to protect the safety and well-being of readers, series organizers, and audience members. But — that doesn’t mean the poetry can’t continue. The video poem, where each poet is asked to share a video of themselves reading, was started by rob mclennan. To keep the sense of community running, and to show our appreciation for audiences like you, organizers decided to bring the Dead Poets Reading Series online. Each poet is invited to honour the works of one dead poet of their choice.

Lessons from I-Hotel with Karen Tei Yamashita

A reading and conversation on a San Francisco SRO with Karen Tei Yamashita

Friday, November 8 from 8-10pm 
InterUrban Gallery, 1 E. Hastings, entrance on Carrall

Authors Karen Tei Yamashita and Erica Isomura discuss lessons and stories from I Hotel (Coffee House press, 2010) through the context of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, a neighbourhood in which low-income, racialized, and stigmatized residents struggle for justice everyday. In a society increasingly divided by race, class, and beyond, what lessons can we take away from Yamashita’s work?

The conversation and reading will be followed with a dialogue featuring members from SRO Collaborative and Right to Remain, and will be open to questions from the audience.

This event is supported by the Powell Street Festival Society as part of the Heart of the City Festival

Karen Tei Yamashita is the author of seven books, including I Hotel, finalist for the National Book Award, and most recently, Letters to Memory, all published by Coffee House Press. Recipient of the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature and a US Artists Ford Foundation Fellowship, she is Professor Emerita of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz.