Episode 64: Interview with Sachiko Murakami

Recorded on Wednesday, August 26, 2020 via Zoom

Sachiko Murakami is the author of four collections of poetry. Her first collection, The

Invisibility Exhibit (Talonbooks 2008), was a finalist for the Governor-General’s Literary award and the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award. She has also created many

collaborative digital poetry projects, most notably Project Rebuild, a companion to her second collection, Rebuild (Talonbook 2011). She has edited poetry for Insomniac Press and Talonbooks; worked for trade organizations; organized reading series in Montreal, Vancouver, and Toronto; and judged prizes, including the Governor-General’s Literary Award, the Japan-Canada Award, and various poetry prizes. She is the recipient of multiple grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, and the Toronto Arts Council. She was the 2017 Jack McClelland Writer-in-Residence at the University of Toronto, and has taught creative writing in the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies and elsewhere. She writes, edits, and teaches in Toronto.

Sachiko and I had an enriching conversation about Render, her recent poetry book with Arsenal Pulp Press, her spirit of community, sense of play, how she approached writing about personal trauma,  her hopes for the book, earlier books, in particular the Invisibility Exhibit, the role of vulnerability, narrating experience as part of recovery, dreams, memoir.  Sachiko also talked about the need to feel safe in order to write, the generous and kind reception of the work. I ask about the role of distance between author and speaker of the poem, the use of the pronoun you. We talk about how dreams are a way to approach a difficult subject sideways. We talked about how writing about yourself was unfashionable a decade ago, and how a new generation of poets aren’t afraid to have their feelings.

We discuss other examples of doubling in Render. Sachiko talks about what happens during black outs and how time flashes in and out. We discuss disassociation in Render and the Invisibility Exhibit.

We talk about the poem series, Thanatophobia, and the passive voice.

We discuss the cover design by Jazmin Welch and the design and layout of the book.

Sachiko talks about the importance of the way poems appear on the page. I get nerdy over formatting.  We talk about the consequences of Covid-19 for poets. We finish with a discussion of upcoming events, writing, touring and having a child.

Sachiko will be reading at The Word on the Street virtual festival on September 27 at 11 a.m. as part of “Poets on the Tangibility of Living”

She’ll launch Render at Knife Fork Book on October 13 at 7 p.m.

In Render, Sachiko Murakami has created a moving collection of intimate and heart-rending poems with imagery and language that is visceral, close-to-the-bone, questioning, apologetic and direct, tackling difficult subjects and experiences with eyes open. Through subtle shifts between memories and dreams, history and story, she continues a body of work that is outward looking as well as inward looking as a way to rebuild, reach out and move forward.

Thanks to Sachiko for being on the show, to Charles for processing, to Jennifer Pederson for the intros and outros and to you for listening and sharing the episode. Stay tuned for the next episode with James Lindsay, and forthcoming episodes with Gary Barwin, Rasiqra Revulva, Klara Du Plessis and more

The Small Machine Talks Episode 52 Book Club with a.m. kozak, Fiona Mitchell, Helen Robertson, Amanda Earl and Hiram Larew,

The Small Machine Talks Episode 52

Book Club with a.m. kozak, Fiona Mitchell, Helen Robertson, Amanda Earl and Hirem Laraw, recorded on Sunday, November 17, 2019

Fiona Ann Mitchell is a poet from Ottawa, Ontario and holds a MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Victoria. Her work can be found in Freefall, The Maynard, The Capilano Review, Arc Magazine and she does editing for Bywords.

Helen Robertson is a genderqueer trans woman moving through the lifelong process of accepting how lucky they’ve been; using poetry to excise their ire and sorrow — hopefully turning it into something worthwhile.

Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in Bywords, CV2, The Puritan, The New Quarterly, and The Grimoire by Coven Editions. They were long listed for the 2019 Vallum Poetry Prize.


1. Amanda talks about the themes of connection and community in Canthius Issue 7, and reads Emilie Kneifel’s “Sharing Again”

deadline for Canthius’ PRISCILA UPPAL MEMORIAL AWARD FOR POETRY is Dec 1. if you can’t afford the $25 entry fee, let them know. there are a few donations of entry fees available.

and visit the site for reviews, essays, interviews, prose and poetry.

Helen muses about whether they’re still subscribed.

2. Helen discusses Arielle Twist’s Disintegrate Disassociate, Arsenal Pulp Press. We talk about Arielle’s great stage presence when she read at Plan 99 in May.

and also Gwen Benaway’s Holy Wild (Book*Hug Press) and specifically mentions A Love Letter for Trans Girls.

Gwen will be reading on December 11 as part of the Governor General Literary Awards at the Canada Council for the Arts at noon.

Amanda discusses the fire in Arielle’s book and the juxtaposition between violence and tenderness. Helen talks about validation from cis het white males for trans women.

3. Fiona talks about Marita Dachsel’s Glsosolalia (Anvil Press) a fictional account of Joseph Smith and his 34 wives, their voices and experiences, pointing particularly to Dachsel’s use of form, including concrete poetry

An interview with Dachsel about the book and why she chose to write about polygamy

4. Aaron talks about Bluets by Maggie Nelson (Wave Books)

He likes how the book uses blue as a centre to talk about science, biography, philosophy, etc. The colour opens up to other subjects. He reads a short paragraph, #215

We talk about the imagery that ends a poem and back of the book blurbs.

Amanda mentions her book, the Argonauts

We end up talking about line breaks and Amanda mentions Dennis Cooley’s essay “Breaking and Entering (thoughts on the line) published in Open Letter, Sixth Series, No 7, Spring 1987.

Fiona recommends Robert Haas’ prose poems to Aaron.

We talk about going back and revisiting old poems. We learn of Aaron’s plundered line document. And Amanda talks about the process of writing long poems and poem series and mentions her upcoming reading on November 22 from her new above/ground press chapbook, Aftermath or Scenes of A Woman Convalescing.

free play period!

5. Additional Books – not necessarily poetry

Helen elaborates on what she liked about Gwen Benaway’s Holy Wild, its similarities and differences to Arielle Twist’s Disintegrate Disassociate.

Amanda recommends Trish Salah’s Lyric Sexolgy Volume 1

and Tanis Franco’s Quarry

Aaron talks about From Walk-Up to High-Rise, Ottawa’s Historic Apartment Buildings, published by Heritage Ottawa.

Gouzenko Apartment

Winnipeg’s Exchange District

Fiona discusses The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck by Mark Manson

We debate which month is worse: November or February.

Amanda talks about the Blue Road, a fable of migration, written by Wayde Compton and illustrated by April dela Noche Milne and published by Arsenal Pulp Press

6. Reminder: the ottawa small press book fair takes place from noon to five pm on Saturday, November 23 at the Jack Purcell Community Centre

7.  Book Club response 1: Hiram Larew talks about Gabriele Calvocoressi’s poem Cistern from the New Yorker July 16, 2018 issue. You can read and hear the poem here:

Thanks for listening and thanks to Helen and Fiona for joining us. Stay tuned for our last episode of 2019 in December. Please share with your poetry and book loving pals.

Episode 28

a.m. kozak and Amanda Earl talk poetry in Ottawa …

Episode 27 – Interview with Kirby

Before their featured appearance at the Tree Read…