Writers Reading: Sachiko Murakami

Photos by Samantha Moss

On Tuesday, November 24, poet Sachiko Murakami came to a fully packed Writer’s Reading at Traill College.

A finalist for the Governor General’s Literary award and the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, Murakami is the author of several poetry collections – The Invisibility Exhibit, Rebuild, and Get Me Out of Here – as well as the creator and co-creator of several online poetry projects.

As someone who had never been to a Writer’s Reading event before, it was a great experience, and listening to Sachiko Murakami’s fabulous poems was an honour.

Get Me out of Here is a collection of poems about airports. Murakami wanted to write poems in airports while she was travelling, and after suffering writer’s block (something everyone can relate to), asked people for their observations while at airports.

Murakami wrote poems based on observations she received from around the world and around Canada (who knew there was an airport in Hamilton?). Sachiko dazzled with her honest, often sarcastic humour (the word “cluster-fuck” came up in one of my favourite poems of the night), and the audience also got to participate at times.

There were also some serious topics, such as one poem, “No Safe Place to Breastfeed in Here”, a topic that has been more discussed recently. “The Invisibility Exhibit” also took a more serious turn about missing women of Vancouver’s downtown eastside, a problem occurring since the 1970s but has only really been brought to light in 2001. Murakami also read a beautiful poem she’d written for Rebuild in honour of her father’s near anniversary of death.

[Pictured] Sachiko Murakami
At this, she began to sound more emotional, sharing a personal part of her life with the audience, which was beautiful. The audience listened intently, as her soothing voice and compelling poetry mesmerized attendees.

When asked if she had any advice for students, Sachiko said students should read, and read what is being written now, so as to be informed. Students should be involved and “be a part of it”; this is probably the most important thing an aspiring writer can do instead of just sitting in a room writing.

It is also important to expand on reading, to read different sorts of novels and different authors, something that Murakami says she is trying to do herself. When asked about her writing process, Sachiko explained how her poems most often come to her in lines, which she would write down on her phone. However, her last book was largely written by hand. Murakami says she will often start a writing project from a specific idea or theme, and go from there.

Talking to Murakami afterwards, she was telling me about the short novel she has been working on recently, about orphans and a journey of self-discovery.

Word has it that the Trent University bookstore attends each Writer’s Reading and sells the works of the guest author. I am very much looking forward to hearing more work from the lovely Sachiko and attending more Writer’s Reading events in the future.