Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?

(Thank you to Joyce Carol Oates for this wonderfully spooky title.)

Friends, I am so sorry I have neglected this blog in the last few months. I’m still getting settled in with my new routines here in…New York City!

Yep, in the middle of July, I packed my belongings (aka my books) up in four cardboard boxes and moved to the Big Apple. Was this an impulse move? Yes and no. My dear friend and former classmate at VCFA got a terrific job in the city, and I decided to move down with her. I’m still interviewing for positions in the publishing world right now, but am doing tons of freelance editing and writing in the meantime, which ultimately allows me the flexibility to explore  this wild and wonderful corner of earth and drink up all that it has to offer.

Of course, it’s a major shift from the quiet pastoral plaidness of Montpelier, and is more of a loud pavemented madness, but I do so love it here. I don’t mind the crowds so much (though I do stay as far away from Times Square as physically possible). One of my favorite things is to stand on a street corner and witness the many languages, faces, and human beings of this world, all congregating in one spot. On the whole, I find people here incredibly friendly (especially if they are a dog owner). The subways are not as overwhelming anymore. I do miss the nature and the visceral autumn-ness of Vermont, and most of all, the friends that I left behind there. But, I am finding my way in this new place and so happy for this experience. More New York-specific posts coming soon.

I do have a new plan for this blog, which means that it will be updated much more regularly! Lucky you!

It is October, the best month of the year. Hope you are all well, my ghosts and my stars. <3

Studying Nuclear Weapons Through An Artist’s Lens

Throughout my time at the Hiroshima-ICAN Academy, I couldn’t help but connect certain lectures and lessons with the many texts, films, and performances I studied as I was writing my graduate thesis at Vermont College of Fine Arts.
Below you will find a compiled list of some resources from my bibliography that I hope encourage your further exploration into the topic of the atomic bomb, nuclear weapons and waste, Japanese/Korean studies, and more. Keep in mind that this is an incomplete list, as there are many more resources I could have included. But I hope as you explore the links, you discover a new fact, a new perspective, or a new direction for your peace work. Please do write in the comments if something in this list resonates with you. And of course, if you come across a title that is not on this list, let me know!

 

Texts: 

Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse

Children of Hiroshima, edited by Dr. Arata Osada

“Hiroshima, City of Doom” by Yōko Ōta

Poems of the Atomic Bomb by Sankichi Tōge

Hiroshima by John Hersey

Trinity by Louisa Hall

A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

The Emissary by Yoko Tawada

Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins

Full Body Burden by Kristen Iversen

Dictée by Theresa Hak Kyung Cha

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr

Contemporary Japanese Literature: An Anthology of Fiction, Film, and Other Writing Since 1945, edited by Howard Hibbett

Hiroshima: A Tragedy Never to be Repeated by Masamoto Nasu

Hiroshima in the Morning by Rahna Reiko Rizzuto

Hiroshima Notes by Kenzaburō Ōe

 

Films: 

In This Corner of the World

“Anointed” (a poem by Marshallese poet, Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner)

Day of the Western Sunrise

Hiroshima Mon Amour

“Navel and A-Bomb” (a short avant-garde film by Eikoh Hosoe)

“General Paul Tibbets – Reflections on Hiroshima” (an interview with the pilot of the Enola Gay)

 

Performance Art:

A Body in Fukushima by Eiko Otake (here are two clips from the full film: one and two)

Eiko Dances with the Hiroshima Panels

 

Let’s Talk about Nuclear Weapons: A Beginner’s Guide to the Nuclear Vocabulary

When it comes to talking about nuclear issues, experts tend to throw around many acronyms and hyper-specific terms that, from an outside point of view, can appear to be quite exclusive. In order to include a broader audience into the conversation, I’ve put together a beginner’s guide to some of the key words we should all know when discussing nuclear weapons:

Deterrence: The theory that nuclear weapons are intended to deter other states from attacking with their nuclear weapons, so as not to induce mutual destruction.

Disarmament: Most often refers to the total elimination of not just nuclear weapons, but of all weapons of mass destruction.

Hibakusha: A Japanese term to describe the survivors of the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; historically and globally, ‘hibakusha’ means “irradiated people” (this includes people affected by nuclear test sites, nuclear waste disasters, etc, such as in Kazakhstan, Chernobyl, The Marshall Islands, Southwest United States, etc.)

IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency): An international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons.

ICAN (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons): A coalition of non-governmental organizations in 100 countries promoting adherence to and implementation of the United Nations’ nuclear weapon ban treaty.

INF (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces) Treaty: This treaty between the US and Soviet Union was adopted in 1987 in order to eliminate all short and intermediate-range missiles from their nuclear stockpiles. On August 2, 2019, the treaty expired as the US and Russia both refused to resume their compliance to the treaty, causing many around the world to wonder if we’ve just entered the beginning of a second Cold War.

NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty): Signed on July 1, 1968 and still in force today, this landmark treaty’s objective is to help curb the spread of nuclear weapons and to prevent countries from increasing their nuclear arsenals. While the treaty has effectively encouraged a great reduction in nuclear weapons worldwide, the treaty itself does not directly advocate for total disarmament.

PTBT (Partial Test Ban Treaty): Signed in 1963, this treaty bans all test detonations of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere, underwater, and in outer space. The CTBT (Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty), adopted in 1996, endeavors to include underground explosions among other nuclear detonations in the total ban. As of this date, the CTBT has yet to enter into force.

Sustainable Development Goals: collection of 17 global goals set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015 to be reached by 2030. Included in the list are goals such as no poverty, gender equality, zero hunger, clean water and energy, climate action, and more.

TPNW (Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons): Passed on July 7, 2017, this treaty is the first legally binding international agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons, with the goal of leading toward their total elimination. In order to enter into force, 50 countries must ratify their signatures. As of today, there are 70 signatories and 25 ratifications. 

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For a more comprehensive list of terms and information, check out Learn WMD and the Nuclear Threat Initiative.

 

ICAN, You Can, We Can Abolish Nuclear Weapons

Two weeks ago, I returned from a truly unparalleled experience in Hiroshima, Japan. It was my second trip to Japan this year (I had embarked on a solo adventure to Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Tokyo in January), but this particular time was a trip unlike any I have ever had before and probably ever will.

To my great surprise, I was selected as one of 15 international participants for the inaugural Hiroshima-ICAN (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) Academy on Nuclear Weapons and Global Security, a 10-day intensive for young professionals ages 25 and under. The Academy ran from July 30 through August 8 and included eight participants from nuclear-weapons states (e.g. USA, Russia, China, France, and England) and seven from non-nuclear-weapons states (e.g. Germany, Japan, South Korea, Canada, The Netherlands, Belgium, Australia). Throughout our 10 days in Hiroshima City, we heard testimonies by atom bomb survivors; learned about global trends on nuclear weapons and global security through exchanges with UN officials, diplomats, and NGO members (including members of ICAN and Peace Boat); and brainstormed concrete plans on how to engage young people in the realization toward a more peaceful world. Most humbling of all, we had the opportunity to participate in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony on August 6th and honor the victims of the 1945 atomic bombing.

How did this all come about? It all started back in May when the Academy’s application came across my Twitter feed. I had been following the ICAN organization for several months as I worked on my thesis, so when ICAN shared this opportunity online, I knew that I had to apply—not only to research for my novel, but to become the global citizen I want to be. And there’s really no greater opportunity than to engage in nuclear disarmament and peace education in one of the two cities to ever experience nuclear warfare. For the application, I wrote a 700-word essay which assessed the current situation on nuclear disarmament, the priority agenda for action, as well as my personal involvement and interest in nuclear issues. I’m quite proud of that essay, and still, I never expected to be selected.

The majority of the other participants—my brilliant new friends—were hardcore students in the nuclear policy field. In contrast, I came to the Academy as “the artist” whose goal was to learn as much as she could about the technical elements of nuclear policy and international law, and translate that information into meaningful articles and texts for the masses. As someone who is usually a vocal presence in the classroom, it was at first difficult for me to take a step back and realize that I was not an expert on this topic and THAT’S OKAY! I quickly learned that one of the greatest tasks I could do at the academy was to listen, record, and absorb.

Perhaps the biggest lesson I learned at the Hiroshima-ICAN Academy was that when it comes to the abolition of nuclear weapons, we need everyone to put the specific skills that they have to good use. I remembered what Sasamori-san told the audience at the University of Vermont Hibakusha Stories event in 2018. She said that we must do whatever we could to ensure that no one suffers as the people did—as she did—on August 6, 1945 and August 9, 1945. Education is the first step: We must tell the stories of how nuclear weapons have affected people since 1945, provide information on the dangerous health effects of nuclear weapons, and explain why we should be extremely concerned that the Doomsday Clock is once again at two minutes before midnight. The humanitarian aspect of nuclear weapons is a key part of bringing awareness to the masses. In many ways, this humanitarian education is synonymous with storytelling.

I’ve already begun that work with my thesis, which attempts to reignite empathy and remembrance for the nuclear tragedies of the past. My hope is that, through my fiction, the curious will be inspired to read the personal accounts of the hibakusha and explore how you too can join in the movement for a peaceful world.

Be on the lookout for more blog posts coming soon, including specific highlights of the Hiroshima-ICAN Academy, a guide to the vocabulary of nuclear weapons, and supplemental books and films for continued education on the nuclear issue!

 

 

{What a time to be a Libra}

Need a boost? Let the Astro Poets take care of you:

Week of Feb. 10: 

A pile of pink glitter will appear. It may or may not be in the shape of your name. You’ve been telling yourself you’d better come to terms with it all. Don’t waste any more time standing still.

Week of Feb. 17: 

There will be health there will be flowers there will be money there will be strawberries. The only thing missing may be a song. Can you go into the past and find it. Probably you will have to go into the future.

(I have gone into the future and found my missing songs. Here they are below:)

Let me know in the comments: which missing songs are YOU bringing back from the future?

And there goes 2018…

I’m attempting to pack my bags (I’m a horrible procrastinator when it comes to packing) as I leave tomorrow for a two-week trip to Japan! I’m nervous excited with the arrow pointing more to the excited portion of the scale. I’m reviewing my hiragana/katakana charts and stuffing as many notebooks as physically possible into my carry-on. I’ll be palling around with local cats (named Mimi and Otsuka for all you Kafka on the Shore lovers) in Hiroshima/Miyajima, Kyoto, and Tokyo. I went to Japan as a wee lass in 2005, but I don’t remember too much except that I loved it. I have a few places I know I want to check out this time (e.g. the Atomic Bomb Dome, Itsukushima Shrine, Fushimi Inari, Yayoi Kusama Museum), but if you have any spots you think I should check out, I’d love to hear from you! Mostly, I just want to soak up as much history and culture to add to the novel I am writing — and if that means hanging on a park bench or sipping green tea in a cafe for half the day, then I’m down for that. Book-wise, I’m bringing Akutagawa’s Rashōmon and Jean Genet’s The Thief’s Journal, plus the Poison issue of Tin House, for all those long hours on the plane and the Shinkansen.

I think this trip is coming at the perfect time—a reset at the top of the New Year.

But today, I take a few moments to look back.

This was a glimpse of 2018:

-My first trip to the AWP conference in Tampa, Florida, and celebrating the publication of this beautiful issue of Hunger Mountain I had the pleasure to help make!

-Finishing my third year of beginning every day with a yoga routine (will you join me in the challenge as I enter my fourth year?)

-The launch of a new series of (almost weekly) posts called Sandbox Notes where I collect and curate words, links, facts, thoughts, descriptions, and objects of interest into creative visual pieces. Learn the story behind my Sandbox Notes here! 

-Tapping into a state of delicious movement with Eiko Otake, and hearing brave hibakusha share their stories of the atomic bombs.

-There were tears: family illnesses, heartbreaks, stress, listening to Visions of Gideon.

-There were fears. Most of them seen on TV.

-There were very good friends—new and old—who made my life a little brighter.

I quit chain-chewing gum. 

-My creative work was accepted three times this year, with two essays forthcoming in 2019 (thank you so much to all of the editors of Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Windmill, and Entropy, and to Glimmer Train for giving my piece “Frozen Locks” an Honorable Mention in the Jan/Feb Short-Story Award for New Writers). I continued writing blog content for the Michigan Quarterly Review, as well as published articles and interviews in Artscope Magazine, Everything is Music, Storyboard, and Perpetual Beta. And my interview with the amazing Rene Denfeld was published in the back of her paperback book!

-Attending the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop and meeting Carl Phillips in real life.

-I started writing a novel!

-Somehow I read 82 books (message me for the full list!) and narrowed it down to 20 “favorite things I read this year.” An eclectic bunch of old and new titles, here they are hand-drawn, in no particular order:

Her Right Foot – Dave Eggers
The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson
My Favorite Thing is Monsters Vol 1 – Emil Ferris
Vice – Ai
Heart Spring Mountain – Robin Marie MacArthur
Vermilion Sands – J.G. Ballard
Indictus – Natalie Eilbert
Census – Jesse Ball
The Principles of Uncertainty – Maira Kalman
The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
Confessions of a Mask – Yukio Mishima
Dialogues in Paradise – Can Xue
Premonitions – Elizabeth Schmuhl
There There – Tommy Orange
The Country Between Us – Carolyn Forché
For Other Ghosts – Donald Quist
Man v. Nature – Diane Cook
Severance – Robert Olen Butler
Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami
Everything Under – Daisy Johnson

Favorite moving pictures I saw this year: a Monty Python Flying Circus marathon, Maniac, Alias Grace, The Crown, The Lobster, and Call Me By Your Name.

2018 sounded like Sufjan Stevens, Poliça, Wilco, Death Cab for Cutie, AURORA, the Westworld soundtrack, The National, Father John Misty, Neil Young, and of course, my forever faves — Emancipator and Fleet Foxes.

Next year will see graduation and beyond, the great job search, and more. But for now, Japan! And being grateful for each day as it comes. Peace to all <3

Happy Solstice.

Another semester has come and gone…and suddenly, I am back in Ann Arbor to celebrate the holiday season with the family, and to take a break (ha!) while also working on my thesis and other writing projects, and I am already days late in celebrating the solstice! I’m surprised at how little snow is here in Michigan (as in NONE!) compared to Vermont. But there are fairy lights in the trees downtown and that helps to keep spirits high.

My latest book haul…thanks to a visit to Bear Pond Books!

I spent most of the weekend reading Everything Under by Daisy Johnson on recommendation from my classmate, Tyler. It’s a book that eats you wholly and takes you underwater, and suddenly, you realize hours have gone by and you’ve grown gills and haven’t needed to come up for air because you are less human and something more magical now. Guess what will feature on my best of the year list—which (stay tuned!) will be posted here on the blog in a few days!

Today, I went to a broadcast of the Bolshoi Ballet’s performance of the Nutcracker with my grandmother. Gah—the dancers were so talented! The show itself was full of nostalgia, timelessness, and charm. Tell me what your favorite pieces from the Tchaikovsky score are! Mine are “The Presents of Drosselmeyer” and the “Pas de Deux: Intrada.”

For the rest of the week, I have artsy presents to craft together, interviews to work on, ice skates to break in, and a travel itinerary to plan, as I have exciting news to tell you in the next few days. But right now, I have sweet cinnamon tea and the promise of stories told underneath an ornamented pine. Happy hibernation!

The Serious and the Silly of December

A glimpse into the last month of the year:

  • Making progress on my thesis/novel—though considering a bit of a plot restructuring!
  • Read Bianca Stone’s The Möbius Strip Club of Grief and Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s Dictee both in one sitting. Stone’s book is doing all the subversive maneuvers I strive for in my own poetry. Even better, she will be teaching a class on “Meaning, Sense, & Narrative in Poetry” at VCFA in the spring! And don’t even get me started with Dictee. Holy wow—I didn’t know a book could look, sound, or read like that.
  • Began an epic watching of Monty Python’s Flying Circus from start to finish. I had seen random sketches here and there, but I’ve never seen the whole series straight through, and I just felt like a phony, calling myself a fan without seeing the entirety of the show! I watch about 15 minutes each day with my breakfast, so I’m not too far through yet! I’m currently in Season 2—just finished “Scott of the Antarctic,” which was pure plasmatic gold.
  • In the spirit of the holiday season, my friend Aaron Wyanski and I have co-authored a list of literary holiday carols. Enjoy the whimsy and feel free to add your own in the comments below!

Jingle Bell Jar
Baby It’s Sharon Olds Outside
Graham Greenesleeves
The Picture of Dorian Sleigh
Robert Frosty the Snowman
Lewis Carroll of the Bells
Little Saint Nicholas Nickleby
Up on the Bleak Housetop
Have Yourself a Merry Little Women Christmas
It’s the Most Wonderful Wrinkle in Time of the Year
Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree in 80 Days
Alice in Winter Wonderland
Twelfth Silent Night
Deck the Wolf Halls
Ding Dong Merrily On High Fidelity
Santa Claus is Coming to Our Town
(There’s No Place Like) Maycomb for the Holidays
Go Tell It On The Mountain
The Holly Golightly and the Ivy
Joyce Carol Oates to the World
Love in the Christmastime of Cholera
Ruefle the Red Nosed Reindeer
Hark! The Herald Angels in America Sing
We Wish You a Mary Shelley Christmas
O Little Town of Macbethlehem

Isn’t it nuts that it’s already December? At least the world outside looks like an Emancipator album cover and there are pine-scented candles and the sounds of Vince Guaraldi’s jazz brush beat and lots of spiced tea!

Thankful.

Certain circumstances in my life this year have made me especially thankful for this life of mine. So…here is a gratitude list. It is surely incomplete and in no particular order:

  • My family and their undying support
  • Fuzzy animals (shoutout to Saki Finch)
  • Books
  • Every author I have ever met in person or met virtually through email interviews
  • Friends who have seen me in my best and worst states
  • Oatmeal – you have singlehandedly kept me alive this year with your nourishment
  • Vermont College of Fine Arts for giving me a safe space to discover myself, to find an encouraging and inspiring community of artists, and to challenge what creative writing can look like
  • Books
  • Art
  • My brain and heart for staying strong, even when I’m feeling down
  • The smell of my mother
  • Phones, for transporting faraway voices directly into my ear, wherever I may be
  • Smuttynose Brewing Company’s Old Brown Dog for reminding me it’s okay to let loose once in a while
  • Striped shirts
  • Fresh air
  • Tarsem’s The Fall
  • Everyone who reads my writing and this blog
  • Working on Hunger Mountain, which has made me realize that I want to work with authors on their writing and help promote amazing art for the rest of my life
  • Hibakusha Stories and the incredible work they are doing for our world
  • Music (particularly every song on this playlist)
  • Hugs
  • The ability to laugh

I lift my mug of tea to you. <3