Five Questions for Marian Pierce

Marian Pierce’s short stories have been published in Portland Monthly, GQ magazine, The Japan Times, The Mississippi Review, Puerto del Sol, STORY, Scribner’s Best of the Fiction Workshops 1997, and other venues. She was shortlisted for the 2008 David Wong Fellowship at the University of East Anglia, for an author writing about the Far East. Her story “Tokyo Pleasureland” appears in Yomimono #15.

Photo: Janice Pierce Photography

What was the inspiration for your story?

 In 2005 I spent 3 months in Tokyo doing research for a novel I have been working on, oh, forever! On an exceptionally hot August day, I took a break and went to Asakusa Kannon Temple. I sat down under a ginko tree next to an old man, and remarked in Japanese to him how hot it was. We started conversing, and he told me about his experiences during the firebombing of Tokyo. He also handed me a fan at one point, which is described in the story.

The Swedish man in the story is based on someone who I talked to at the “Gaijin House” I was staying in in Saitama at the time. He was just as girl crazy as described!

Describe your writing space.

 
When I write by hand I lie on my couch, sit at my kitchen table, or sit cross legged on the floor or a patch of grass somewhere. When writing at my computer, I sit at little desk which faces a bulletin board filled with photos of friends and family.

What are you working on now?

 A novel about, in part, the crash of JAL Flight 123 in 1985.

What’s the last book you’ve read?

 
 Under the Banyan Tree by R.K. Narayan. I love Narayan’s humor, the compassion that infuses his writing, and his deceptively simple style.

What is your favorite place in Japan?

That’s a hard one, but I absolutely loved Yakushima Island and the ancient Jomon sugi trees.

Review of SKY = EMPTY

Poet and former expat Judy Halebsky’s recently published collection, Sky = Empty, is reviewed in The Japan Times. Halebsky, who was awarded the 2009 New Issues Poetry Prize by judge Marvin Bell, contributed three new poems to Yomimono #15. An interview with Halebsky appears in Yomiono #14.

Incidental Music by Jane Joritz-Nakagawa

Yomimono contributor Jane Joritz-Nakagawa’s fifth book of poems, incidental music is out with BlazeVOX and is available from Amazon.

Whereas traditional poetics relied on meter and rhyme to create structure, the poems in incidental music use chains of association, sound, and logic to explore the form behind form. These cleverly wrought poems do what the greatest of poetry does — serve as objects of contemplation inviting the reader into a small universe both familiar and unfamiliar, knowable and unknowable. These poems challenge and thrill.

JEFFREY ANGLES

Jane Joritz-Nakagawa’s incidental music presents an atonal surround sound of turbulent registers. In this work there is dissonance and friction at the level of figuration—a “welding of phenomenological scalpels”. These poems are filled with humans facing human conundrums. Joritz-Nakagawa’s lyrics emphatically convey that a wound is not a tomb—the tone is often solemn but also wry. “These are not full truths” — chaos threatens time and despair close to oblivion is unraveled in paradoxical lines, yet there is a bold confidence emitted, a pact is made to keep going. Amidst the rumble is an evanescence that can’t be collapsed into a flat plane.

—BRENDA IIJIMA


incidental music is attentive to the deep formal traditions of poetry in the western tradition: the sonnet, the pantoum, the cinquain, the rondeau, the triolet, the ghazal. And yet, as Jane Joritz-Nakagawa well knows, these traditions get their strength in how they intertwine with the contemporary. Incidental music is both innovative and inclusive of all that poetry can do.

—JULIANA SPAHR

Yomimono in The Japan Times!

Kris Kosaka recently reviewed Yomimono #15 in The Japan Times. You can read what she had to say here.