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” http://thewordonthestreet.ca/toronto/words-across-canada/

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

Episode 49: Interview with Jason Christie

The Small Machine Talks with a.m. kozak and Amanda Earl

Episode 49 – Interview with Jason Christie

With humour, humility, intelligence and hope, Jason shares his thoughts on his book, poetry, chaos as creativity generator, nature, technology and the Monster at the End of This Book.

We talk about Jason’s latest book, Cursed Objects (Coach House Books, 2018). Jason muses philosophical on colour, sound, noise, language, poetry and things that are in the eye and mind of the beholder, the change in the nature of the role of the object in contemporary life.

He explains his interest in follies and the playful connection of the title to the content as a critique of finely wrought, well wrought things, a playful romp through intentionality.

Jason admits liking to create structures and undermine them. He talks about the biases that cause people to judge perfection.

Aaron praises the variety of the book. Jason was trying to go outside of the standard left-hand margin poem that we all write while trying to avoid the clever riddle.

Jason talks about his need to make crises as a catalyst for thinking to avoid complacency and how taking risks in poetry has that effect for him, such as playing with form in the book. He muses about when objects will have their moody teenage period.

Aaron asks about the role of nature in Jason’s writing. Jason suggests we need to understand that we are nature, not separate from it. He questions the idealism of some attitudes toward nature.  He uses nature in the same way as he does technology in the book. Nature is not a counterbalance to technology.

We discuss the humour in the book and the way Jason addresses readers directly. Jason and Amanda reminisce about BatFink, and Jason talks about the Monster at the End of this Book, and the idea of breaking the wall between writer and reader. He talks about the future of interactive reading.

We talk about the playfulness and weirdness of Ted Berrigan’s sonnets. Amanda talks about the usefulness of cut ups and the unique world they create.

Aaron asks about revision from chapbook to book for the Charm. Jason appreciates the support of rob mclennan of above/ground press. Jason talks about how people on social media are reduced to the words they used. The Charm invokes friends and family as how they are useful to him.

We discuss epigraphs and dedications as part of the constructed nature of the book, its element of fakeness and not pretending the construction isn’t there, the contract between reader and writer. Aaron asks about the ethics of writing about people in a poem.

We talk about how great the notes in the back of the book are. Aaron reads from the notes. He asks about tech poems as being cathartic. Jason disputes the idea that he’s anti-technology as some perceive after reading the book. He’s actually a technophile, but is concerned about the consequences of being the object of technological advance as we become their human. He expresses optimism about what future generations will be able to do with technology. He’s interested in tracking the evolution of technology and its relationship to humans.

We learn about the identify of Jason Wasabi.

We end with a discussion of music and Jason’s creation of sounds, which he calls noise and its connection to poetry, all the preconceived notions of what music or poetry should be and how Jason plays with those notions.


Cursed Objects (Coach House Books) https://chbooks.com/Books/C/Cursed-Objects

Batfink https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0Sow24CAQs

The Monster at the End of this Book https://muppet.fandom.com/wiki/The_Monster_at_the_End_of_This_Book

Ted Berrigan, Bean Spasms – https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/56113/bean-spasms

Jason Christie on Bandcamp: https://jasonchristie.bandcamp.com/

Thanks to Jason for being on the Small Machine Talks, to a.m. kozak for co-hosting, to Jennifer Pederson for the intros and outros, to Charles Earl for processing, to you for listening and sharing the episode.

Stay tuned for the next episode of…the Small Machine Talks, coming soon!