Jackson Kanahashi Bliss is a hapa writer of fiction and creative nonfiction. He is Nisei and was born and raised in Northern Michigan until early adolescence and groomed and evolved in Chicago + the West Coast since then. He has a BA in comp lit from Oberlin College and a MFA in fiction from the University of Notre Dame where he was the Fiction Fellow and the 2007 Sparks Prize winner. He also has a MA in English and a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from USC where he worked with Aimee Bender, TC Boyle, and Viet Thanh Nyugen on an interdisciplinary dissertation about APIA gender constructions and the orientalization of contemporary APIA fiction as well as a coming-of-age novel about love and (racial) self-discovery called Ninjas of My Greater Self. Jackson was the 1st Runner-up for the 2013 Poets & Writer's California Writer's Exchange Award in fiction and a hapa panelist at the Mixed Remixed Festival 2016. He is represented by Maggie Riggs.
Jackson's short stories and essays have appeared in Antioch Review, Guernica, Ploughshares, Kenyon Review, Fiction, Tin House Online, Santa Monica Review, Boston Review, Witness, Quarterly West, Joyland, ZYZZYVA, Pleiades, Arts & Letters, Fiction International, 2012-2013 Anthology of APIA Writing, Notre Dame Review, African American Review, Kartika Review, Hobart, Quarter After Eight, Connecticut Review, 7x7, Stand (UK), 3:am Magazine, The Daily Dot, The Beiging of America Anthology: Personal Narratives about Being Mixed Race in the Twenty-First Century, The Good Men Project, and Huffington Post UK, among others. He blogs for Ploughshares about APIA literature, video games, and gender constructions. You can find Jackson here on Twitter.
Both a travel junkie and a former expat from Argentina, Jackson has spent the past two decades living in Chicago, LA, Buenos Aires, New York, Portland, Seattle, Oberlin, and Burkina Faso. He teaches creative writing, literature, and rhetoric at the University of California Irvine and CSUN.
Jackson has collaborated on numerous interdisciplinary projects, including The Miracle of the Walking Fish, a bilingual immigrant narrative libretto that composer, Laura Kramer, set to music for the Pasadena Conservatory of Music's "Song About Places" 2015 series and The Voice Inside Your Bones, an exquisite corpse variant with LA-based artist, Rick Potts, for the 7x7 project.
10 Random Facts about Jackson
一。 Jackson speaks Japanese like a schoolboy. Not as in giddy either, but as in questionable grammar, cute, unmanly intonations + extremely limited vocabulary
二。Jackson wrote his first "novel" in college at the age of 23 called Letters from a Pyromaniac, a 400-page monstrosity that straddled epistolary, coming-of-age + maximalist stylization. It was a miserable failure, but it helped him understand that he was a writer. Flawed + self-indulgent, but a writer nonetheless.
三。Jackson is part Sakura, part frog, and part BBC. In other words, a 100% hapa (a person of mixed Asian ancestry). Paradoxically, Jackson speaks French + Spanish way better than he speaks Nihongo even though he identifies with his Japanese heritage the most, thanks to his spunky Obāsan. By the way, if you call Jackson white, he'll kick your ass.
四。Jackson has 4 tattoos + counting: A Japanese poem on his right forearm by Rin Ishigaki, a dolphin + Arabic on his left forearm, a geisha on his left bicep (still a work on progress) + a portrait of Avalokiteshvara on his right shoulder.
五。Unknown to most of his friends, Jackson is also a musician/composer who goes by the name Mizu (the Japanese word for h20). In fact, he's classically trained + has been playing piano since the age of ten. You can buy a track or two of his electronic downtempo LP "Space Age" on iTunes. Or you can listen here first.
六。Some of his favorite cities include: Chicago, Tōkyō, LA, Marrakech, Paris, Amsterdam, Colonia del Sacramento, New York, Kyōto, Buenos Aires, Budapest, Cuzco, Ōsaka, Stockholm, Seattle, Toronto, Barcelona, Sitges, Montréal, Istanbul, Berlin, Hong Kong, Prague, London, Seoul, Bratislava, Copenhagen, + Vienna.
八。Some of his fave foods include: ramen, nectarines, yakisoba, dark chocolate, ocha, vegan reubens, mac'n'cheese, miso shiru, peanut butter shakes, salads with kale + avocados, pad kee mao, poutine, coconut water, brown rice . . .
九。Musically, Jackson will listen to almost everything except country. Special shout outs to: dream pop, indie, electronic, hip-hop, house, classical, jazz, singer songwriter, trip-hop, industrial, new wave, break beats, dub, lo-fi, downtempo, world music, post-rock, and R + B
十。Some of Jackson's favorite authors: The Murakamis, Chang-Rae Lee, JD Salinger, Jeffrey Eugenides, Banana Yoshimoto, Junot Diaz, Nami Mun, Tolstoy, Nam Le, Ann Carson, Adrian Tomine, John Pham, Aimee Bender, Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Taiyo Mastusmoto, Mary Yukari Waters, Ha Jin, Ruth Ozeki, Marjane Satrapi, Nabokov, Dostoevsky, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Arundhati Roy, Michael Chabon, TC Boyle, Karen Tei Yamashita, Francine Prose, Jim Shephard, Toshio Morii, Willa Cather, Phillip Roth, Albert Camus, Bulgakov, Lydia Davis, Carol Maso, Proust, Jillian Tamaki, Alison Bechdel, Italo Calvino, Kafka + so many others.