The Author Spotlight Series shines a light on writers creating heartfelt and original work across genres, giving them an opportunity to talk about their books and why they do what they do.
Sachiko Murakami is the author of three previous poetry collections, including The Invisibility Exhibit (shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award). As a literary worker, she has edited poetry, worked for trade organizations, hosted reading series, organized conferences, sat on juries, and judged prizes.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I didn’t really have a sense of what I wanted to do when I grew up when I was a kid. All I really knew was that I loved to read, and that I was happiest and felt most alive when I was with a book. I never thought that it would be a career path for me, though. After years of secretly writing poetry, I took a poetry workshop in my last year of undergrad. When I met with my instructor, the poet Shannon Stewart, during her office hours, she told me, “You know, you could do this. You could be a poet. You should do a graduate degree in Creative Writing.” Her encouragement really gave me permission to take my own writing seriously.
Do you remember the first thing you ever wrote.
I remember writing a diary entry about what I did after school with my friends. It was fiction; I didn’t have any friends.
How did you develop your skills?
I read a lot. I tried to do what the writers I admired most did. I wrote a lot. I threw out a lot of bad writing (I still throw away lots of bad writing).
Who are some of your biggest literary influences? Do you have a favourite book/author?
Looking at my most recent book, Render, I can see the shadows of so many amazing poets: Maragret Christakos, Liz Howard, Aisha Sasha John, Angela Rawlings, Vivek Shraya. I definitely do not have a favourite book! Don’t make me choose!
How would you describe your work?
I don’t really have a single aesthetic – I write formal, metered poems, free-verse confessional poems, experimental poems, all in one book. My books usually have an organizing topic or theme rather than a singular style. My poetry tends to be about subjects – Vancouver, real estate, airports. In my latest book, Render, the poems are much more personal.
What’s your writing process like?
I write intensely for brief periods, and spend long periods not-writing. I think this is normal for poets, for whom poetry is very rarely a full-time vocation.
Tell us about your most recent book.
Render is my fourth book. It’s about my experience with trauma, addiction, and recovery, rendered in part through my dreams.
What are you working on now/next?
Our daughter was born in January, so I’ve been working exclusively on that!
Sachiko will be appearing at Word On The Street this Sunday, September 27th