Nominated for a Pushcart Prize in Creative Nonfiction

I learned yesterday that my lyrical essay, "The Transfusion of Yukiyo Kanahashi," my piece about memory, dementia, nostalgia + love, written about the last seven days of my obāsan's life, was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize by Jennifer Derilo, the creative nonfiction editor at The Kartika Review.

Anyway, I know that thousands of people get nominated every year + only a select few actually win, but this makes me feel good.  Of course, I'd love it if the reading committee selected my essay for their anthology, but for the time being, I'm extremely grateful to have been nominated for such a prestigious prize.

Anyway, if you're interested in reading my pushcart-nominated lyrical essay (for bragging rights, posterity, sleep aid, escapism), you can find it in the 2012-2013 anthology of Asian Pacific Islander American Literature.

Lyrical Essay Published in Kartika Review

It's tough writing about your family, even tougher I think writing about your Japanese Grandmother when she was the heart + soul of your family as mine was.  Years after she passed away, I'm still trying to understand how much of my own cultural identity came from her, from our conversations, our meals + our holiday traditions, from her stories of Japan + of our Japanese family in Tokyo + Osaka.  After taking a class on war + memory with Viet Nguyen at USC during my early PhD years, Viet allowed me to write a lyrical essay instead of an analytical one for our final paper, which was an amazing blessing.  After a lot of intermittent revision over two years + more recently with the CNF editor at Kartika Review, Jennifer Derilo (who I respect/adore), my lyrical essay "The Transfusion of Yukiyo Kanahashi" is now live.  In many ways, it's heartbreaking + raw + honest + powerful.  But my hope is that this essay will keep her memory alive while also providing me (+ the reader) the space to take apart our own preconceptions about our selves while celebrating the erosion of memory + even life.  I make no bold claims about this essay except that it helped me celebrate my sobo's life + the Japanese ancestry in our family while also giving me the cultural + emotional space to finally let go of her + share my imperfect memory of her with the world (reader).  If you wanna buy a black and white hardcopy of issue 15, go here.  If you don't have funds to drop, you can also read my essay on line here.

1st Piece Accepted in 2013

After a rigorous (+ very helpful) revision dialogue with Jennifer Derilo, the very sharp, very smart + very detail-oriented Creative Nonfiction editor, I'm proud to announce that my lyrical essay "The Transfusion of Yukiyo Kanahashi" will be published in the upcoming issue of the Kartika Review.  This lyrical essay is part personal narrative, part memory + neuroscience critique, + part metamemoir.  It's a non-linear work about the last week of my sobo's life (my Japanese grandmother's), intertwined with political, cultural, nostalgic + speculative narrative strands.  It's a beautiful + heartbreaking + language-driven + emotionally raw piece, + needs to be shared with the world I think. I honestly can't think of a more culturally important journal to publish an essay about my sobo's life than in the Kartika Review.   I'll keep you posted. 

The Contrast Sharpened the Grief: The Three Mistakes of Ryu Murasaki

Yo, a group of us writers with diverse styles, skill sets + aesthetics are doing a LITERARY BLOG RELAY. Here are the rules:

Each writer writes 250 words (e.g. a piece of flash fiction, a novel excerpt, an acrostic poem, a bathroom limerick, whatev) and then tags the next writer on the relay list. Basically, we can write whatever the fuck we want, but each post must begin with the last line of the previous post (in bold here) + must be linked (however loosely) to a central theme, in this case, “A Stranger Comes to Town.”

Here's my contribution, using the last line from Christine Zilka's piece (below in bold).

Jennifer Derilo is next.

The contrast sharpened the grief.

He was not in Osaka anymore + the tekkamaki he'd bought at Itami was starting to smell like a drowned sea mammal. Ryu realized that his first mistake (+ there were many) was arriving on a Saturday. The taxis were crammed with wobbly college kids adorned in kelly green, navy blue and cardinal red t-shirts, tubby alumni and barking military families, all of them heading towards campus with dead-fish eyes and poinsettia-red faces. He felt like American football (whatever the hell that was) was turning people into pieces of tuna sashimi.

Ryu's second mistake (which is directly related to his first mistake) was getting into town on the day of the Notre Dame-USC game. After he'd finally hailed a taxi to the edge of campus, Ryu dragged his gigantic plaid suitcase behind him into the hornet's nest. A middle-aged couple wearing "Notre Dame Mom" and "Notre Dame Dad" sweatshirts and chinos swaggered past Ryu. A twiggy girl with a leprechaun decal ironed onto her freckly cheeks bumped into him + then burped into her hand, apologizing to him with a wax-on, wax-off wave. Three college boys in matching baseball caps, their arms interlocked on their shoulders, stumbled past him. When Ryu tried to move around their rugby formation, the boys patted him on the shoulder and shouted: Yeah, bro! Go Irish! It took Ryu two hours to make it to his campus apartment, + when he'd finally plopped his keys on the kitchen table + saw the cable wires dangling from the wall + the sad brown couch with the frumpy cushions + the sad brown bed upstairs with the plastic mattress, he walked into the bathroom + threw up on the floor.

But it was Ryu's third + final mistake that upset him the most, a mistake he didn't even realize he'd made until he was boiling water for his first cup of ochya in America. When he stood up to phone his mom, he suddenly realized he'd crossed the international time line. It was 1:30pm in South Bend but it was 3:30 am in Osaka. And Saturday was the day his mom took obasama to the Geranium market to buy blue stargazers. It was the only day she didn't need to hear his voice.


THE FULL LINE-UP, IN ORDER (Completed posts in bold)….

  1. Wah-Ming Chang:
  2. Jamey Hatley
  3. Stephanie Brown
  4. Andrew Whitacre
  5. Heather McDonald
  6. Christine Lee Zilka
  7. Jackson Bliss
  8. Jennifer Derilo (to be posted on
  9. Alexander Chee
  10. Nova Ren Suma


  • Start with the last line of the previous entry.
  • Poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction.
  • 250 words.
  • Thematically linked.
  • Link to the next person on the list, as well as those who posted before you.
  • Post something within four or five days of the most recent piece.
  • Posts should start with an explanation, with links to the previous posts as well as the next.