Sep 13

Posted by Tom Baker

Warren Decker and Michael Frazier are two JET poets living in Japan who will each be hosting a workshop at the Oct. 10-11 Japan Writers Conference. This year’s conference is being held online, so you don’t need to be in Japan to attend. For details, see http://japanwritersconference.org. Official descriptions of the workshops appear below.

Warren Decker

Pterodactylic Pentagrameter: Working with Rhyme and Meter

Craft Workshop

Poetry

In this workshop we will focus on poetry that incorporates rhyme and meter. As a participant, please bring 2-10 lines of rhymed and metered poetry for us to discuss. Please also be ready to share your unique techniques for finding the right meter and rhymes for your poetic lines.

Paradoxically, the confines of rhyme and meter can often serve to open unexpected creative doors. One who sets out to write about “fractals” may find “pterodactyls” swooping into their poem. Maintaining a regular pattern of stressed and unstressed beats might lead a poet—after many hours at the keyboard—feeling as though a supernatural rhythmic force is guiding them to choose the perfect words and in the perfect order. 

In this workshop, while looking at specific examples of rhyme and meter as exhibited in the participants’ samples, we will collectively attempt to recall the wonderful technical terminology describing syllabic meter (for example: “iambic pentameter,” and “dactylic tetrameter”), but also consider looser and more intuitive accentual poetic rhythms. 

Furthermore, we will discuss the incredible variation contained within the seemingly simple concept of “rhyme,” focusing on concrete examples to understand how and why certain rhymes work.

Warren Decker has published poetry, fiction and non-fiction in The Best American Poetry 2018, NOON, The Font, Frogpond, Modern Haiku, Acorn, The New Ohio Review, THINK, Sou’wester, Fifth Wednesday, and several other online and print journals. He also performs his poetry online and in front of live audiences in Osaka.

Michael Frazier
I AM MY FAMILY (a persona workshop)
Craft Workshop
Poetry

This is a poetry workshop (open to writers of all genres) who are interested in writing about and through their family. We will use the persona form—writing in the voice of family members—to interrogate ourselves. Some poets we’ll look at include Natalie Diaz, Paul Tran, and Julian Randall.

No one can move forward without looking back at where they’ve come from. This is the principle that guides this workshop. Persona poetry is poetry in the voice of someone, or thing, other than ourselves: shiba inu, wild iris, Sailor Moon, Kanye West, or even your bed. We will use the persona to focus on and interrogate our own families and make meaning out of the relationships that have formed us. In order to embody the voices of our family (biological or chosen) we must practice radical empathy. While a persona is in the voice of someone else, my hope is that in the poems we will write, we will turn inwards and learn something new about ourselves. We will look at writers who wield the persona and voices of their family with urgency like Paul Tran, Yalie Kamara, Hiwot Adilow, K-Ming Chang, Natalie Diaz, and Eduardo C. Corral.

Michael Frazier is a poet in Kanazawa. He graduated from NYU, where he was the 2017 poet commencement speaker & co-champion of CUPSI. He’s performed at venues including Nuyorican Poets Café & Lincoln Center. On staff at The Adroit Journal, his poems appear in COUNTERCLOCK, Construction, Visible Poetry Project, among others.


Sep 6

Japan Writers Conference: Todd Jay Leonard discusses the EFL textbook market

Posted by Tom Baker

Textbook author Todd Jay is one of the JET alumni writers who will be giving presentations at the 2020 Japan Writers Conference. Due to the coronavirus, this year’s event is being held online, so you can Zoom in from wherever you are. For details, see http://japanwritersconference.org. Here’s the official description of his presentation:

Todd Jay Leonard
Publishing in the EFL Market in Japan: Four Perspectives on How to Make your Proposal Count
Short lecture with Q & A
Career

This presentation will outline the current publishing market in Japan for EFL/ESL textbooks by reviewing the various points of views of the publishing industry. The presenter has published extensively within the ESL/EFL market in Japan and will offer helpful advice to budding authors who wish to pursue projects geared to Japan’s domestic market.

Most likely, every language teacher in Japan has (at some point during his/her tenure) contemplated writing a textbook to fill a void in the market…in that constant search for the perfect, all encompassing textbook.

In today’s competitive publishing world, getting the proverbial “foot in the door” can seem daunting and nearly impossible. What are publishers looking for in the current market? What appeals to editors who ultimately decide which titles go to production and which ones do not? What are the salespeople on the front lines hearing from their market base? What must an author do in order to get his/her book published?

This presentation focuses on these very questions, offering inside insights from all the various points of view that must be considered when writing a proposal to publish a textbook–the publisher, the editor, the salesperson, and the author. Professor Leonard explains the realities within the publishing industry and addresses some common myths associated with EFL publishing.

Todd Jay Leonard has been actively involved in book publishing for thirty years. He is the author of 22 books. He has published books with a number of different Japanese publishing companies. He lives, writes, and teaches on the southern island of Kyushu, where he is a university professor at University of Teacher Education Fukuoka. He has also published extensively in academic journals, magazines, and newspapers on cross-cultural, historical, and Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) themes.


Sep 6

Japan Writers Conference: Suzanne Kamata speaks on writing about characters with disabilities

Posted by Tom Baker

Prolific author Suzanne Kamata is one of several JET alumni writers who will be giving presentations at the 2020 Japan Writers Conference. Due to the coronavirus, this year’s event is being held online, so you can Zoom in from wherever you are. For details, see http://japanwritersconference.org. Here’s the official description of Suzanne’s presentation:

Suzanne Kamata
Wheelchair User or Wheelchair-bound?: Writing About Disability
Short Lecture with Q&A
Fiction, Nonfiction

In this session, I will discuss positive and problematic representations of persons with disabilities in literature, including my own work, with a view to developing better awareness.

With the approach of the 2021 Tokyo Paralympics (hopefully), people with disabilities in Japan have been given more attention than perhaps ever before. English textbooks for Japanese children now frequently include stories about or representations of people with disabilities. Worldwide, initiatives such as #weneeddiversebooks and the call for #ownvoices have led to an increase of  books featuring characters with disabilities. That said, some of these representations, and the way that they are discussed remain problematic. When do stories about disability become “inspiration porn”? What kind of language should we use when discussing disability? Who has the right to tell these stories? In this session, I will address these questions, using examples from recently published Japanese textbooks and literature featuring children in Japan and other countries, including my own work.

Suzanne Kamata is the award-winning author or editor of twelve published books including Love You to Pieces: Creative Writers on Raising a Child with Special Needs (Beacon Press, 2008), Gadget Girl: The Art of Being Invisible (GemmaMedia, 2013), A Girls’ Guide to the Islands (Gemma Open Door, 2017), Squeaky Wheels: Travels with My Daughter by Train, Plane, Metro, Tuk-tuk and Wheelchair (Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing, 2019), and Indigo Girl (GemmaMedia, 2019). She is an Associate Professor at Naruto University of Education.


Sep 6

Charles Kowalski to dissect villains at Japan Writers Conference

Posted by Tom Baker

Many JETs are writers before coming to Japan, while others find that Japan give them something to write about. And many JET writers get involved in the Japan Writers Conference, which this year is being held online, Oct. 10-11.

One of this year’s featured writers is novelist and JET alum Charles Kowalski, who will describe how to give your story a compelling villain.

Here’s the official description of Charles’ presentation:



Masterminds, Minions, and Monsters: Creating 3D Villains
(Craft Workshop)

Create compelling villains that readers will love to hate! This workshop will introduce three main villain motivations (the “3 D’s”) and show how these form seven archetypes, plus six effective recruiting tools for henchmen (FLAMES), the top five justifications for villainy, and how to defeat the villain for a satisfying ending.

“A story is only as good as the villain.” – Clive Barker

Bad guys make good stories, and this workshop will focus on creating compelling villains that readers will love to hate.

Here are the questions to be asked and answered in this workshop.

What makes a compelling villain? How can the BOOM technique help create a villain with a believable backstory?

How do the three main motivations of villains intersect to form seven villain archetypes? What are the common personality characteristics of each?

What are the six tools used by master villains to recruit followers? What are the top five justifications for villainy?

What are the five main patterns of villain defeat and their common variations?

Come find out!

Charles Kowalski is the award-winning author of contemporary thrillers MIND VIRUS and THE DEVIL’S SON, and the Japan-themed historical fantasy SIMON GREY AND THE MARCH OF A HUNDRED GHOSTS. When not writing, he teaches at Tokai University.


Aug 24

Panel discussion on MFAs at 2020 Japan Writers Conference

Posted by Tom Baker

Many JETs are writers before coming to Japan, while others find that Japan give them something to write about. If you’re thinking about furthering your writing career by getting an MFA, then you might want to listen to what JET alums Percival Constantine and Warren Decker have to say about.

The two will be part of a panel discussion at the 14th annual Japan Writers Conference, titled “The MFA: The Good, The Bad, and The Expensive.”

Due to the pandemic, this year’s Japan Writers Conference is being held online, meaning there is no travel involved. Here’s the official description of Percy and Warren’s event:

The MFA: The Good, The Bad, and The Expensive

John Gribble, Kristina Butke, Percival Constantine, Alec McAulay, Warren Decker
Panel Discussion

Should I get an MFA or other graduate-level degree in writing?
Aren’t they expensive? Are they difficult? Are they any good? What sort of program should I look at? What kind of benefits should I expect to receive? These questions and others will be addressed in this session.
Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and other advanced degrees with a writing emphasis have become a viable option for those seeking to improve their writing skills and advance themselves professionally. Some programs are full- or part-time on a university campus, some are on-line, some are hybrids, blending elements of both. The panelists, all with advanced writing degrees, will each talk about the programs they attended, their own experiences and answer your questions.


John Gribble is a noted gasbag. He rarely knows what he is talking about, but he states his ignorant opinions with great vigor. He has spent far too much of his life in school and other institutions. He is also a poet, co-organizer of the Japan Writers Conference and the Tokyo Writers Workshop, and earned his MFA at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina.


Kristina Elyse Butke is an American writer, editor, and teacher who indulges in cosplay, art, and all things otaku. She has a BA in English Literature from Capital University and an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. A former college English teacher, playwright, and composer, she now writes fantasy and horror. Her work has been published by ExFic, First Class Literary, and Synaeresis Magazine, among others. She’s also worked the convention circuit, presenting panels on writing fanfiction and genre fiction at events such as Ohayocon, Matsuricon, and Colossalcon. In terms of editing, one of her latest projects included subtitle edits for Pied Piper Inc.’s release of the anime Skip Beat!, and she currently edits and contributes to Speculative Chic.


Kristina lives in Kumamoto prefecture in Japan, where she works in multiple high schools as an assistant language teacher. When she isn’t working on all the things, she travels to shrines, hunts for Kumamon, and spends more money than she should at the JUMP shop.


Raised on a consistent diet of superhero comics, action movies, and video games, Percival Constantine wanted to grow up and write the type of fiction he consumed. Now as a prolific author of pulp fiction, he’s written around thirty books across various genres. He’s also the host two podcasts—Japan On Film and Superhero Cinephiles. When he’s not working on projects, he somehow finds time to teach classes in literature, film, and English. Born and raised in Chicago, he’s now based in Kagoshima, Japan.


Alec McAulay is an award-winning writer and director. Originally from Glasgow, Scotland, he has lived in Japan since 1989. He teaches Creative Writing at Yokohama National University. Alec has an MA Screenwriting (Distinction), and a PhD (Screenwriting) from the Faculty of Media & Communication, Bournemouth University. His children’s novel Robot Santa (unpublished) is about a ‘hafu’ Scottish-Japanese girl who builds a robot Santa to save Christmas.


Warren Decker is a teacher and writer based in Izumi, Japan. He has published poetry, fiction, and nonfiction in The Best American Poetry 2018, The New Ohio Review, Modern Haiku, Sou’wester, and other journals. His first book of poetry The Long Side of the Midnight Sun is available from Isobar Press. He has an MFA in creative writing from the online program at the University of Texas, El Paso.


Sep 24

 

 

Posted by Tom Baker

Novelist and former Aomori Prefecture JET Charles Kowalski, the author of the thrillers “Mind Virus” and “The Devil’s Son,” as well as the new middle-grade novel, “Simon Grey and the March of a Hundred Ghosts,” will present a workshop on giving names to fictional characters at this year’s Japan Writers Conference, happening in Tokyo on Oct. 12-13. Here’s a description of his presentation:

What’s In A Name? Tips and traps in character naming
Craft workshop

Remember the journey into Mordor by the heroic Bingo Baggins? (Of course not, and aren’t you glad?) The naming of characters is a difficult matter, but we will discuss the three main considerations (sound, meaning, and associations) and their applications to genres ranging from contemporary fiction to SF and fantasy, along with pitfalls to avoid.

Charles Kowalski’s debut thriller, MIND VIRUS, won the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Colorado Gold Award, and was a finalist for the Killer Nashville Claymore Award and the Adventure Writers’ Grandmaster Award. His first middle-grade novel, SIMON GREY AND THE MARCH OF A HUNDRED GHOSTS, was just released by Excalibur Books.

For more information, visit charleskowalski.com or japanwritersconference.org.


Sep 21

 

Posted by Tom Baker

Kanazawa JET Michael Frazier is set to lead a poetry workshop at this year’s Japan Writers Conference (Oct. 12-13 in Tokyo). Here’s the official description:

Haibun, Tanka, Pecha Kucha—Contemporary English-Language Poets & Japanese Forms
Craft Workshop

This workshop focuses on the influences of unsung Japanese poetic forms on contemporary English language poetry and spoken word. We’ll watch and read haibun, pecha kucha, and tanka. We’ll discuss the forms and write our own poems using one of the forms. This generative workshop is open to writers of all genres.
In particular, we will look at less common forms (haibun & tanka) and newly-invented forms (Origami & Pecha Kucha). The Pecha Kucha, based on a Japanese business presentation style, was pioneered as a poetic form by American poet Terrance Hayes. It is this type of ingenuity this workshop is to focused on. In this workshop we will look at poems by writers of color who practice “re-approaching” by using Japanese forms like Aziza Barnes, Sonia Sanchez, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Amiri Baraka, and Terrance Hayes. We will discuss the content of their poems, why they used the form, and how they reinvented. Participants will be asked to choose a form and write something new in the workshop.

Michael Frazier graduated from NYU, where he was the 2017 Poet Commencement Speaker & College Union Poetry Slam Invitational Co-Champion. He has performed at venues such as Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, & Gallatin Arts Festival. His poems appear in The Visual Poetry Project, Day One, The Speakeasy Project, & others. Catch him reading poems for The Adroit Journal & teaching SHS in Kanazawa.


Sep 15

 

Posted by Tom Baker

A trio of current JETs – Micah Tasaka, Yoshika Wason, and Michael Frazier – will be among nearly 50 published writers making presentations at this year’s Japan Writers Conference (Oct. 12-13 in Tokyo). Here’s the official description of what they’ll do:

Beyond Borders: Creating Connective Writing Communities
Reading, Panel, and Q&A

In this presentation, we will discuss how to build international writing communities, utilize internet resources, and create publishing opportunities for one another. Ultimately, we want to explore the connective power of writing communities in our home countries and abroad while focusing on creating mutual support and legitimacy for other writers.
While publishing is often thought of as written work being “accepted” by a publisher, we would like to question what publishing means and focus on how to build international communities that support and create opportunities for one another. Through this discussion, we seek to dismantle the scarcity complex that often surrounds publishing and find new ways to get our work in front of audiences by means of collaboration and community support while utilizing internet resources to extend our reach to a global scale. With backgrounds in both written and performance art, we would like to redefine publishing to be more inclusive and community based. By establishing communities that are willing to hear and experience one another’s work, can we create space for more writers to be legitimized? In doing so, how can we ensure that those who exist in the margins are also heard from and not just established writers?

Micah Tasaka is a queer mixed Japanese poet and spoken word artist from the Inland Empire, California, residing in Fukui prefecture, Japan. They received their undergraduate degree in creative writing from the University of California, Riverside. Micah is a community organizer and has taught workshops on publishing manuscripts, poetry performance skills, and using poetry as healing for trauma survivors. Their first full length manuscript, Expansions, was released on Jamii Publishing in 2017, and their work has appeared in In the Words of Women, Name and None, and Nikkei Uncovered among others.
www.micahtasaka.com

Yoshika Wason is a teacher and writer. She earned her BA from Boston College, where she was Editor in Chief of ASIAM, an Asian Pacific Islander American literary magazine. She is continuing her work in the API community through her current role as Co President of the Asian Pacific Islander Association for Japan Exchange and Teaching (API AJET.) Yoshika is working on her first full length poetry manuscript currently titled Second Chances for Fallen Blessed Children and also has a self published micro chapbook called Extra Bold. She currently writes a monthly education column
called Today’s Lesson and has been published in Ghost City Review, Rice Paper Magazine, The Paper Napkin, and elsewhere. Learn more at
www.yoshikawason.com

Michael Frazier graduated from NYU, where he was the 2017 Poet Commencement Speaker & College Union Poetry Slam Invitational Co-Champion. He has performed at venues such as Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, & Gallatin Arts Festival. His poems appear in The Visual Poetry Project, Day One, The Speakeasy Project, & others. Catch him reading poems for The Adroit Journal & teaching SHS in Kanazawa.

For more information about this year’s Japan Writers Conference, visit www.japanwritersconference.org.


Aug 29

Posted by Tom Baker.

JET alum Suzanne Kamata will be among nearly 50 published writers making presentations at this year’s Japan Writers Conference (Oct. 12-13 in Tokyo). Here’s the official description of her talk:

“Wheelchair User or Wheelchair-bound?: Representations of Persons with Disabilities in Children’s Books”

Short lecture with Q & A

In this session, I will discuss positive and problematic representations of persons with using examples from recently published Japanese textbooks, and literature featuring children in Japan and other countries, including my own work, with a view to developing better awareness. With the approach of the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, people with disabilities in Japan have been given more attention than perhaps ever before. English textbooks for Japanese children now frequently include stories about or representations of people with disabilities. Worldwide, initiatives such as #weneeddiversebooks and the call for #ownvoices have led to an increase of children’s and young adult books featuring characters with disabilities. That said, some of these representations, and the way that they are discussed remain problematic. When do stories about disability become “inspiration porn”? What kind of language should we use when discussing disability? Who has the right to tell these stories?

Suzanne Kamata is the award-winning author or editor of twelve published books including “Love You to Pieces: Creative Writers on Raising a Child with Special Needs” (Beacon Press, 2008), “Gadget Girl: The Art of Being Invisible” (GemmaMedia, 2013), “A Girls’ Guide to the Islands” (Gemma Open Door, 2017), “Squeaky Wheels: Travels with My Daughter by Train, Plane, Metro, Tuk-tuk and Wheelchair” (Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing, 2019), and “Indigo Girl” (GemmaMedia, 2019). She is an Associate Professor at Naruto University of Education.

For more details, visit http://www.japanwritersconference.org/


Aug 29

Posted by Tom Baker.

JET alum Jennifer Hammer will be among nearly 50 published writers making presentations at this year’s Japan Writers Conference (Oct. 12-13 in Tokyo). Here’s the official description of her talk:

“NaNoWriMo: What Are These Syllables and Why Do Writers Care?”

This lecture will focus on what exactly NaNoWriMo is, the pros and cons of writing 50,000 words in thirty days, and how writers can benefit from this online (and real life) community during the official November event, in April and July for “Camp NaNo,” and with writers of varying levels from around the world. Why should a writer care about these four syllables? Because NaNo is a great resource for writers, can be adapted to schools (and/or clubs), and is a way to make friends for life (as well as connect with the 5AM writing club, whichever time zone you’re in).

Jennifer Hammer is the Tokyo Municipal Leader (ML) for NaNoWriMo and a four-year NaNo winner. She writes whatever pretty idea catches her attention, all the way from super hero romance (White Knight) to creepy-crawly horror (JA Hammer) to fantasy video games (Coffee Quills).

For more details, visit http://www.japanwritersconference.org/


Aug 29

Posted by Tom Baker.

JET alum Todd Jay Leonard will be among nearly 50 published writers making presentations at this year’s Japan Writers Conference (Oct. 12-13 in Tokyo). Here’s the official description of his talk:

“Publishing in the EFL Market in Japan: Four Perspectives on How to Make your Proposal Count”

Short lecture with Q & A
This presentation will outline the current publishing market in Japan for EFL/ESL textbooks by reviewing the various points of views of the publishing industry. The presenter has published extensively within the ESL/EFL field in Japan and will offer helpful advice to budding authors who wish to pursue projects geared to Japan’s domestic market. What are publishers looking for in the current market? What appeals to editors who ultimately decide? What are the salespeople on the front lines hearing from their market? What must an author do in order to get his/her book published? This presentation focuses on these very questions.

Todd Jay Leonard has been actively involved in book publishing for thirty years and has published twenty books. He lives, writes, and teaches on the southern island of Kyushu, where he is a university professor at University of Teacher Education Fukuoka. He has published extensively in academic journals, magazines, and newspapers on cross-cultural, historical, and Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) themes.

For more details, visit http://www.japanwritersconference.org/


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