Program for JWC 2021

Alan Summers
The Pull of the Lonely Single Line of Haiku
Short Lecture with Q&A

How do we journey through a single line of haiku and back again counterintuitively? Through Q&A, discussion, and micro-workshopping we will find out.

Japan Times award-winning writer Alan Summers discusses tactics of the ‘single line haiku’ and how it embraces poetic tension. Is haiku, in English, as one poetic line, rather than over three lines, where we might capture more of the original Japanese essence?

“In adopting the tercet, those who write haiku in English are doing the exact opposite of those who write haiku in Japanese: practically all Japanese haiku writers use a monolinear form.”
“On Haiku” Hiroaki Sato (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 2018)

We will engage, with examples, discussion, workshopping, how the one line of haiku reverses narrative, or at least perceived ‘linear’ narrative; how “story” impacts on, and inside, haiku poems differently than other poems, through the “and then shift.”

In conclusion, the sole or solo line of haiku will reveal its inner landscape of white space and negative space as well as its untold story.

Alan Summers is a multi-award winning haiku poet. His bilingual article on one line haiku appeared in Haiku Svyat (issue 5-6/2019-2020) published by the Bulgarian Haiku Union. He is the founder/lead tutor for Call of the Page:

Charles Kowalski
Personality Types and Character Arcs
Short Lecture with Q&A

What do your characters want? What do they fear? The answers can provide ready-made road maps for their character arcs – the quest for what they want, and the detour that leads them to what they need. Discover how nine basic personality types help chart the course for your characters’ journey.

This workshop shows how fiction writers can use a classical nine-point personality profiling system to develop characters and determine character arcs. Participants will learn:

  1. Nine basic personality types, each driven by a fundamental desire (love, pleasure, power…) and its corresponding fear.
  2. Common character traits, interests, and suitable and unsuitable careers for each type.
  3. Levels of attainment for each, from fully realized (mentor level) to striving (protagonist level) to frustration to the point of desperate acts or even psychosis (villain level).
  4. How types and levels can help determine a character’s goals, and how well-documented pathways from one type to another can help determine the direction of character arcs, both for positive change and negative change.

Charles Kowalski is the author of the award-winning thriller MIND VIRUS, the political/espionage thriller THE DEVIL’S SON, the historical fantasy SIMON GREY AND THE MARCH OF A HUNDRED GHOSTS, and several short stories. When not writing, he teaches at Tokai University.

Christopher Simons
The Magic Inverse: Bringing the Magic into Contemporary Poetry
Craft Workshop

In this craft workshop, we will practice how to bring ‘magic’ into contemporary adult poetry without alienating journal editors, contest judges, and publishers. ‘Magic’ could be anything not considered realist: myth and folklore, fantasy, science fiction, magic realism, horror, etc. Poems submitted in advance will be considered for workshopping.

In this super-rational age, advances in science and technology are matched by growing readership for fantasy, science fiction, and other supernatural narratives. The more rational global society becomes, it seems, the greater our appetite for supernatural tales. The world of adult contemporary poetry publishing, however, can sometimes be an exception to this rule. This workshop will explore how to write well-crafted poems for readers who would enjoy folklore, myth, fantasy, and science fiction in their poetry—but without alienating journals and publishers. The workshop will consider an array of poetic charms, spells, and hypno-beams (i.e. formal and narrative strategies) to allow poets to write about magic, monsters, and killer robots without being dismissed by journal editors and contest judges. We will practice building a ‘magic inverse’: integrating magic into the music of verse. As A. E. Stallings writes in ‘Listening to Peter and the Wolf with Jason, Aged Three’: ‘I asked him where the wolf is. With grave logic / He answers me, “The wolf is in the music.”’

Participants are welcome (but not required) to submit a short poem to the workshop. Given the limited session time, not all poems may be discussed, but we will try to look at as many as possible. Workshop poems should be no more than 20 lines, on a theme or subject related to folklore, fantasy, or SF. Please submit your poems by 1 October. Submit to

Christopher Simons is Senior Associate Professor of Literature at ICU in Tokyo. He has held the Harper-Wood Studentship in Creative Writing at St John’s College Cambridge. His most recent poetry collection is Flight Risk (Isobar Press, 2021). His criticism and poetry have appeared in numerous UK publications including the TLS.

Recent poetry books: Flight Risk (Isobar Press, 2021); Underground Facility (Isobar Press, 2018); One More Civil Gesture (Isobar Press, 2015); No Distinguishing Features (wordwolf press, 2011).

David Brennan
Editing Tips and Techniques
Short Lecture with Q&A

In this session I would like to focus on the how paying serious attention to editing your work can drastically improve it and boost your chances of winning competitions and getting published.

To new writers editing can seem dull and boring, but it is in editing and re-editing your work that often the real magic lies.

Perhaps the writer is composed of two parts: the writer and the editor. For the first ugly draft you need to keep the editor part under reins. However, for subsequent drafts you should gradually allow it more leash. In this session we will look at practical advice, techniques and suggestions on how to improve your editing skills, from working alone to joining a writers group to finally working with an editor. Do and dont’s along the way that may provide some useful insight for you when editing your own work.

David, born and raised in Upperchurch in County Tipperary Ireland, currently lives in China. In 2019 he published his debut novel Upperdown with Epoque press. He was one of the winners of the Irish Novel Fair 2018. In 2016 he won the Frank O’Connor Mentorship Bursary Award and has been shortlisted for the Bristol Short Story (2017), the Doolin Short Story award (2016), the Curtis Bausse Short story award, the Fish Memoire (2018) and longlisted for the Fish Memoire prize (2016 & 2017) and the Colm Tobin Award (2017). He has also published stories and poems in The Irish Times, Number 11, Memoryhouse, The Ogham Stone, Crabfat, Shanghai Poetry Zine, Tokyo Poetry Journal and Jungle Crows (a Tokyo anthology).

David Gilbey
Reeling and Writhing
Craft Workshop
On line, preregistration required

Reeling and Writhing: A Poetry Editing Workshop preparing for publication
A closed workshop, requiring participants to submit poems before the conference as well as read and be ready to discuss the work submitted by others. To join, contact David directly at

The proposed workshop is based on the familiar and successful structure and strategy as offered by John Gribble at the 2008 JWC and my own over the last twelve years. It will involve my sending out a brief to intending participants requiring submission of drafts of poems, then, before the actual workshop, reading and making comments on each of the participants poems and finally, participating in the workshop discussion itself at the conference.
This workshop allows writers to work on a poem or two in readiness for publication, recognising that conference delegates are themselves writers, teachers and editors and that there are both personal and professional benefits from a closely-focussed discussion of emerging texts. So the purpose of this workshop is to give a small group of poets the opportunity to meet, read and discuss in depth, a sample of each other’s work. The workshop will be open to a limited number of participants but writers of varying degrees of experience will be welcome. The session will be closed and of two hours duration. There will be two parts to the workshop: preparation and participation. Preparation also has two parts: submitting and close reading. Those who sign up for the session will be contacted before the conference.

David Gilbey was Adjunct Senior Lecturer in English at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, Australia, and the founding President of Wagga Wagga Writers Writers, as well as a poet. His three collection of poems are ‘Under the Rainbow’ (1996), ‘Death and the Motorway’ (2008) and ‘Pachinko Sunset’ (2016). He has taught English at Miyagi Gakuin Women’s University in Sendai, Japan 1996, 2000 and 2007.

Edward Levinson
Simple Nature Attunement – Tips and Practices for Writers of Any Genre
Short Lecture with Q&A
Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry

Attunement is one of the main keys to creativity and inspiration. In this presentation Edward will share the simplest of techniques that can used to increase one’s attunement with nature and self, thus increasing our state of receptivity and balance from which all creative endeavors can benefit.

Based on 40+ years of experience with nature meditations and attunement practices, I continuously find they benefit my writing, my photography, and my whole life. The effects of these practices are relevant to any kind of writing: fiction or non-fiction, memoir or poetry, travel writing or journaling, as well as teaching these same subjects. In this presentation, I use selections of my haiku and photographs to illustrate both literally and figuratively the power of breath combined with sharing simple practices to attune to the elements and then go beyond that. The goal is to become aware of the seen and unseen energies that surround us and allow them to become a part of our beings, our personalities, our writer persona, even part of the characters in our writings. From this cultivated attuned space, inspired writing emerges, perhaps not instantaneously, but with continued practice, words will sprout in a fertile field.

Edward Levinson has lived in Japan since 1979. Whisper of the Land, his memoir, was published by Fine Line Press. He is an award-winning photographer and short filmmaker. He lives on Chiba’s Boso Peninsula staying attuned with nature and his garden, which inspires much of his haiku and poetry.

Gordon Vanstone
Developing a Sense of Place
Short Lecture with Q&A, Group Reading with Q&A
Lecture/Reading with Q&A

‘Place’ in fiction is more than just setting as it informs and enhances character, plot, theme, atmosphere, voice, and language use. Place can play a central role in influencing the narrator’s choices, challenges, and motivations. Citing select passages from my novel, I’ll highlight strategies used to create a strong sense of place and draw readers in.

A crucial aspect of the storyteller’s job is to get your readers immersed in the world of your narrator, only then can you transport them through your tale. Place plays a vital role in this process. It’s most effective when places are portrayed as authentic, engaging, meaningful and relatable. Place can be a powerful tool to generate plot, character development and conflict. The setting becomes more than the backdrop of a novel; it dictates all that happens. It almost comes alive and pulls the reader along with it.
Reading select passages of my novel, I’ll highlight strategies used to draw readers in and create a strong sense of place: evoking the senses, capturing the essence (the devil is in the details), setting the scene vs utilising ‘nudges’ to create an accretion of environmental elements, giving locals a voice, showing impact on characters’ actions and emotions, burrowing down from the macro and establishing connections and fluidity between.

Gordon currently lives in Singapore. In April 2021, he published his first novel, Rainy Day Ramen and the Cosmic Pachinko, with Monsoon Books. Gordon lived in Japan as an international school teacher for eight years between 2004 and 2015. His novel, in part, is an ode to the country which captured a piece of his heart.

Hans Brinckmann
Maintaining Close Connections With a City or Country Can Help Your Career
Short Lecture with Q&A

One of the many sources of inspiration for a writer is a life-long connection with a certain place – a city or area, or even a country. In my case, I maintained a special connection with Kyoto, going back to the late 1950s, which recently brought surprising literary results.

Some authors focus their writing on certain places. My writings are set in many different locations, but one thread that has continued over time is Kyoto. Ever since the late 1950s, when I interacted with Kyoto artists and oddballs, I’ve stayed in touch, and included Kyoto in several of my writings. In 1970, my essay, Kyoto-san, was the lead article in the inaugural issue of Koto, a Japanese magazine. In 2011, The Tomb in the Kyoto Hills and other stories was published. In 2019 the Writers in Kyoto group invited me to give a lecture on my Kyoto connections, and they included one of my stories in Kyoto Journal, followed by a review of my memoir The Call of Japan. Then, this spring, after joining Writers in Kyoto, I participated in a short-story competition, and won Third Prize! Clearly, my long connection with Kyoto has been richly rewarded.

Born in Holland in 1932, Hans Brinckmann – though keen on writing – joined an international bank. Assigned to Japan in 1950, he stayed 24 years. He returned to Japan intermittently and since 2003 is a permanent resident and writer of seven works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. URL:

Holly Thompson
Possibilities with Poetry and Picture Books
Short Lecture with Q&A

Picture books are a format, not an age range category. This session will be of interest to poets, visual arts folks, as well as writers interested in writing for young people. Poetry and picture books are perfect allies–the distillation of poetry well suits the 32-page picture book format. Poetry in picture books ranges across all sorts of forms and styles, and this session introduces approaches and possibilities for crafting picture books with poetry.

Poetry and picture books are perfect allies–the distillation of poetry is ideal for the 32-page picture book format. Contrary to popular belief, poetry in picture books does not always rhyme and ranges across all sorts of forms and styles, including individual poems in a thematic collection; a single continuous free verse or formal poem as book text; or lyrical prose text. Since picture book text is often limited to just 500 words, and poetry skills can enable writers to deftly manage compression of text and craft a manuscript that leaves ample room for the illustrator to add further layers of meaning and story. Poetry can also help enhance page-turn anticipation, can allow for broaching complex topics for the young, and can ensure that readers of picture books will span all ages. This session introduces a range of approaches and possibilities for using poetry to craft compelling picture books.

Holly Thompson ( is author of picture books, verse novels and prose novels. She serves as SCBWI Japan Co-Regional Advisor and teaches picture book writing and creative writing at Grub Street, UC Berkeley Extension, and Yokohama City University.

Iain Maloney
The Writing Process, Autocomposting and Writer’s Block
Short Lecture with Q&A

My latest book, a novella, was written in two days, but was the result of nearly ten years of thinking and planning. In this talk I will look at my own writing process as well as that of other writers and discuss the idea of autocomposting and of writer’s block.

My latest book, the novella “Life is Elsewhere/Burn Your Flags” was written in two days, but was the result of nearly ten years of thinking and planning. Too much attention is given to the part of creative writing where pen meets paper and not enough to everything that comes before, which I will argue is perhaps much more important. In this talk I will look at my own writing process as well as that of other writers who exemplify the concept of writing as a process in which putting words on paper is only one part. I will discuss the idea of autocomposting, of writer’s block and misconceptions about what creative writing looks like in practice.

Iain Maloney is originally from Scotland and now lives in Gifu. He is the author of three novels, a haiku collection, a memoir and a new novella, “Life is Elsewhere/Burn your Flags”.

James Crocker, Andrew Innes
Best of The Font – A Literary Journal for Language Teachers
Group Reading with Q&A
Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Career

Readings from Japan-based authors published in The Font in 2020/21

The Font is a literary journal for language teachers and learners. It has been publishing quality fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry and essays by language teachers and learners since 2013. These are all on the theme of teaching and learning languages at home and abroad. In other words, it is a place for teachers and learners to reflect on their experiences and observations while teaching and learning languages, or while living and teaching abroad.
This presentation features a selection of the best publications of the past two years, read by the authors themselves. The authors will answer questions after doing their readings.

James Crocker has published 20 text books and readers for language learning with OUP and Macmillan. He has also published numerous articles on language teaching. James has been editing and publishing The Font since it’s inception.

Andrew Innes is from Cheshire near Manchester in England and since 2002 lives in Himeji. He divides his time between teaching at Mukogawa Women`s University, Himeji Dokkyo University, Kobe Shoin Women`s University and various freelance classes around the Kansai area. He has written on whether teachers can detect if students have used machine translation in their work and the tell-tale signs that they have; and the use of video in class to reduce transactional distance during online teaching. His forthcoming book touches on various themes of interest such as science fiction and how technology can blur the boundaries of our identity (Generation C), psychedelia (Pattern Separation), Cancel culture (Ms. Representation), Othering (The Gaijin Parade), Buddhism (The Koan), The Korean Wave (Veritas), Tourist pollution (When in Rome), New ageism (Digital Detox), horror (The Rotten Mikan), and metamorphosis (The Short Story Collective). He has written three stories for The Font and had a story published in Tokyo Weekender. He describes himself as a new writer and very much learning his craft.

Joan Bailey
Social Media for Writers: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Clubhouse and You
Panel Discussion

Join three writers working in fiction, non-fiction, young adult fiction and non-fiction, and science communication to discover how they use social media to promote their work, develop community, and explore their respective fields. Learn what has worked for them (and hasn’t), and how to approach this important realm of shameless self-promotion.

This panel discussion will feature three Japan-based writers: Suzanne Kamata, (fiction, non-fiction, and young adult, ); Hannah Kirshner (non-fiction, Water, Wood and Wild Things, March 2021 Viking), and Elizabeth Tasker, (non-fiction, The Planet Factory, 2017, Bloomsbury) and book title. Each writer will share how they use social media venues to promote their work, do research, foster community, and explore their respective fields and beyond. They will also share things that haven’t worked and why; their tips for getting started and approaching this realm of interaction; and why social media matters, including specific benefits they have found. Participants will have a chance to ask specific questions related to social media use and leave with a list of best practices.

Joan Bailey is a freelance writer based in Japan. Her work focuses on food, farming, farmers markets, and travel and can be found at The Japan Times, Tokyo Weekender, Modern Farmer, Civil Eats, Savvy Tokyo, and Outdoor Japan. Visit to read your fill!

Joanne Anderton
Speculative fiction autobiography: The joys and the challenges of mixing truth with imagination
Short Lecture with Q&A
Other Genre

This lecture is an exploration of autobiography, speculative fiction, and the way in which we turn lived experience into narrative. I will discuss the joys and challenges of adapting my time living in Japan into a ‘speculative fiction autobiography’, and what other writers can gain from my research and experimentation.

How do you recount a lived experience, when writing it as a traditional memoir feels incomplete? Is it possible to mingle science fiction, fantasy and horror with autobiography, but maintain a sense of truth?

My creative writing PhD, The Realness of Unreal Things, is an attempt to do just that. A mixed genre collection, this ‘speculative fiction autobiography’ blends speculative short stories and creative non-fiction, drawn from my time living and working in Japan.

In this lecture, I will discuss the process of adapting my experiences in this unorthodox way, what’s challenging about it, what’s fascinating about it, and what other writers can gain from my research and experimentation.

The role of factuality in memoir inhabits a problematic space. I propose that speculative fiction autobiography will enable writers to examine the deeper truths of their lived experience, by freeing us from the difference between the real and the unreal.

Joanne Anderton is an Australian author and PhD candidate. She has won awards for her speculative fiction, which includes the novels Debris, Suited and Guardian, and the short story collection The Bone Chime Song. She has published a children’s picture book and non-fiction in Island, Meanjin and The Japan News.

Joe Palermo
No Pianos, Pets or Foreigners! Self Publishing a Memoir in eBook, Paperback and Audiobook Format at Minimal Cost
Short Lecture with Q&A

A young Japanese woman was running through Tokyo station screaming “Save me! Save me!” There was a Japanese man chasing her and closing in. He grabbed her wrist and caught her about 10 feet in front of me. The woman was still yelling “Save me! Save Me!” but the Japanese people in the crowded station ignored her, not wanting to get involved.

This is the beginning of one of the stories from my experience living in Japan in the 1980’s, where I had moved right after graduating university. It was still rare to see an American who could speak Japanese fluently. This book guides the reader though my many adventures navigating through Japanese culture while living in the outskirts of Tokyo, as well as Tokyo proper.

I will detail my experience writing and publishing a book and audiobook about my life in Japan, using Amazon KDP and Amazon ACX. I will talk about what I learned through the process and what I would do differently.

Joe Palermo has retired after 30+ years as a corporate executive at the Nielsen Company and Information Resources, Inc. (IRI). He lived and worked in Japan for eight years and is the author of “No Pianos, Pets or Foreigners! My Life in Japan in the 80’s”.

Joy Jarman-Walsh
Live + Engaging Networking via Interviews with Japan Insiders
Short Lecture with Q&A

Moving beyond words on a page by live broadcasting interviews to a worldwide audience in realtime – it seems daunting but is transparent and engaging, reaching new audiences tired of traditional media. If you are researching an article, you are actually prepared to livestream- let me explain how to do it, and why it’ll make your content better.

I’ve been on a crazy and unexpected journey researching and hosting daily interviews with various experts and insiders in Japan, or abroad who are focused on Japan, to dive into what it means to seek sustainability. A big part of seeking sustainability is transparency, which I think is also critical for good writing, which can be achieved by engaging with your audience as you create the content. I believe that one of the best ways to do this is by livestreaming content to engage with a wider audience. As of the end of May, I’ve done over 250 live interviews and the comments and questions of live viewers has been an important aspect of the finished product. I think this concept can inform and improve almost any type of writing project. There are key strategies to prepping for interviews as well as running live talkshows which engage with a live audience. There is also post-production work that needs to be done, including getting the interview onto a podcast platform. I will lay out not only the why’s but also the how-to’s of the process.

Joy Jarman-Walsh (jjwalsh) runs a daily livestream talkshow called #SeekingSustainabilityLive which had it’s 250th episode in May 2021. Joy co-founded GetHiroshima in 1999, worked as an Assistant Professor teaching Tourism and Business for more than 21 years, then started her own sustainability-focused travel consulting business, InboundAmbassador, in 2019. Joy has written for academic journals as well as travel copy and destination articles. Joy has an MA in Sustainable Tourism from ASU (USA).

Karen Hill Anton
Memoir: “It’s all in the writing – you get no credit for living”
Short Lecture with Q&A
Nonfiction, Memoir

In this talk we’ll delve into what the aspiring memoirist does to create and craft a narrative that is engaging.

Memoir is currently a genre as popular as fiction, and thousands of memoirs are published every year. You can have your memoir stand out in this crowd by telling a story—one that is compelling and captivates readers. And assuming you’re not a celebrity, readers of memoirs want to know: “What’s so interesting about this person’s life that will induce me to read it?” You need to tell them on Page One.

Written well, your memoir will have momentum and not just be a collection of vignettes: “I went there, I did that.” Your reward in writing your story well will be in having readers not only relate, but care. And caring is what gets them from the first page to the last.

In this talk we’ll address, ask, and answer the question: How do we write a life as a story?

Karen Hill Anton wrote the “Crossing Cultures” column for The Japan Times for fifteen years. Originally from New York City, she has lived in rural Shizuoka prefecture since 1975. Her memoir The View From Breast Pocket Mountain is winner of the SPR Book Awards Gold Prize, and the Book Readers Appreciation Group Medallion.

Liane Wakabayashi
Marketing Your Memoir Long Before It’s Completed
Short Lecture with Q&A

This lecture begins anecdotally, with Liane recalling the advice of a New York book publishing industry insider, who taught her how to take the long-range view of completing a memoir–by publishing extracts. She’ll walk you through the steps of reaching your audience, publishing one story at a time, and thereby communicating with your audience while your book is still in progress.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was that promoting a book essentially begins on the day we start writing it. When you’re immersed in writing a memoir, perhaps the last thing that you’re thinking about is pressing the pause button to market excerpts of your unfinished book to print and online magazines, or reading it out loud or on Zoom to your intended audience. In this lecture, we’ll talk about the why’s, the how’s and the when’s, step by step. As a journalist with nearly 40 years experience, I’d like to help inspire you to take the best excerpts of your memoir, let them be read, get your name known, and feel your confidence to soar, especially at the critical mid-point in book writing. Surely, the road to memoir completion is both a test of nerves and faith, and when someone else believes in your book, you are much more likely to as well.

Liane Grunberg Wakabayashi, raised in New York City, lived in Tokyo from 1987 to 2017, when Israel tugged at her heartstrings. Excerpts and themes from The Wagamama Bride have appeared in The Jewish Forward, Tablet, Asian Jewish Life Magazine, The Japan Times and The Jerusalem Post Magazine. Seven stories from The Wagamama Bride are now also being serialized on the Jewish world’s second largest website,

The Wagamama Bride: A Jewish Family Saga Made in Japan, Goshen Books 2021

Linda Gould
Ten Things to Do Before Submitting Your Work for Publication
Craft Workshop

Self-editing is hard. The hands-on activities in this workshop will give you advice and practice in developing editing skills that will improve your work and chances of being published.

Many submissions are rejected for silly mistakes. This workshop will provide a checklist that all writers should follow before submitting to any publication, and will provide activities to improve content and line editing, as well as proofreading skills.

Linda Gould is the Managing Editor of White Enso. She has a degree in journalism and extensive writing, editing and design experience. She is the founder of the Women’s English Writing Group of Japan, writes fantasy and ghost stories, and is the author of The Diamond Tree, a dual-language book.

Melinda Taliancich Falgoust
Self-Publishing on a Shoestring: Quality Independent Publishing on a Zero or Low Budget
Short Lecture with Q&A

Participants will become acquainted with the mandatory six components every independent publisher must address if they desire to produce a quality, professional product. In every category, multiple cost-effective options will be addressed and demonstrated to allow the widest margin of participants to find a tool that “fits like a glove.”

The stigma associated with self-publishing is slowly dissolving as even some of the Big Five’s top best-sellers are choosing the independent route over New York. With the availability of many tools to help the diligent author, there is no reason stopping anyone from putting a quality, competitive piece of work into the literary marketplace. Participants of this particular workshop will learn the fundamental steps of book production that every indie publisher must know, define over fifty free and low-cost resources available to aid in book production and marketing and acquire specific, introductory skills to produce effective and quality marketing materials.

Melinda Taliancich Falgoust is an internationally award-winning author whose writing has appeared in Reader’s Digest, AHMM, and others. She frequently presents at literary events world-wide on craft including the Japan Writers’ Conference, Killer Nashville, and the West Virginia Book Festival. Her presentations offer a “novel” approach to help authors succeed.

Melinda Joe
So You Want to Be a Food Writer?
Short Lecture with Q&A

People often assume that, as a food writer, I spend my days popping bonbons and swilling champagne. This is false, but not entirely so. In this short talk, I’ll dispel myths about food writing, discuss the pros and cons, and give tips for those new to freelancing.

Food writing is more than restaurant criticism. This presentation will give an overview of different kinds of food writing, introduce examples of food media outlets, and describe ways that the industry is changing. Drawing upon more than a decade of experience as a food journalist, I’ll offer insight into what makes a compelling story, how to break into the business, and share some of the most important lessons I’ve learned as a freelancer — as well as my most memorable food adventures.

Melinda Joe is a journalist based in Tokyo who specializes in food and drinks. She is a Japan Times columnist, and her work, which has been translated into four languages, has appeared in Condé Nast Traveler, Nikkei Asia, Newsweek, WSJ Asia, CNN, and others.

Melissa Uchiyama
Growing Chutzpah: A Writer’s Superpower
Craft Workshop, Other Type
Craft and Encouragement
Other Genre

This is a workshop for all writers of all genres as it encourages boldness in collaboration, pitching, and publishing. Chutzpah is the way towards valuing our ideas enough to make bold moves.

We will explore the idea of “chutzpah”, the yiddish word for having the courage and audacity as writers. Publishing, in itself, is a series of steps that carry us from the private to the public, but all too often, the writer must navigate self-sabotaging thoughts, thoughts that keep the writer and the words cut off. Chutzpah is the antidote, bringing levity and spunk, shoring up the writer to harness the confidence to pitch effective ideas and drafts. It can bring our whole process of writing from meek to tremendous.

This workshop will look at the whole process, from seed idea to published piece and even onto the next step. Inspecting an idea and finding it good and profitable, we nurture it, (just how this looks will be discussed in-session) aiming big–to pitch the magazines, editors, and book queries from a place of strength and assurance in our identity, ideas, and work.

Participants will see where they have also thought “big”, taking an idea, finding its worth, and then growing it to pitch, whether inviting collaboration, beginning a new project, all of the “thinking big”. We will take part in an activity that inspires and ignites “big thinking” and all of the chutzpah we need as writers.

Melissa leads creative writing camps, collaborating with Japan-based authors and illustrators. Her essays appear in places such as The Washington Post, LA Review of Books, Brevity, Kyoto Journal, Taste, The Japan Times, and the Sunlight Press. She is featured in various anthologies like Mothering Through the Darkness and Knocked Up Abroad Again. Melissa will be launching online workshops on the subject of Jewish Food Writing.

Michael Dylan Welch
Even in Kyoto: Place Names in Haiku
Short Lecture with Q&A, Craft Workshop
Half lecture, short writing exercise, plus sharing and discussion

We need more place names in haiku! This interactive PowerPoint presentation by Michael Dylan Welch celebrates Bashō’s iconic haiku, “even in Kyoto / hearing the cuckoo / I long for Kyoto,” and features numerous parodies and allusions to the poem as examples of utamakura or place names in haiku and explores how this poem has inspired many others. This presentation also touches on the Welsh word hireath, a sweet sort of homesickness, and the Roman concept of genius loci, or the pervading spirit of place. Also includes an invitation to try writing your own “even in Kyoto” variations, with optional sharing and discussion.

Michael Dylan Welch cofounded the Haiku North America conference in 1991 and the American Haiku Archives in 1996, and founded the Seabeck Haiku Getaway in 2008 and National Haiku Writing Month ( in 2010. He has published dozens of poetry books. His website, devoted mostly to haiku, is

His poetry, essays, and reviews have been published in journals such as Bacopa Literary Review, Cascade, City Arts, Clover: A Literary Rag, Fan, Frogpond, HQ, Hummingbird, Kyoto Journal, Line Zero, Mainichi Daily News, Matrix, Modern Haiku, Mosaic, Poetry Kanto, Poetry Nippon, Poet’s Market, Pointed Circle, Rattle, Raven Chronicles, Right Hand Pointing, Seattle Weekly, StringTown, The Writer’s Chronicle, and Writer’s Digest. My work has also appeared in books from such publishers as Writer’s Digest Books, Kodansha, Tuttle, Andrews-McMeel, Mosaic Press, MQP, Iron Press, Red Moon Press, Snapshot Press, Brooks Books, Boatwhistle, NeoPoiesis Press, Black Moss Press, and others. Most recent books include: Dance into the World, editor, Tanka Society of America, 2020; Seabeck Reunion, editor, Haiku Northwest Books, 2020; Jumble Box, editor, Press Here, 2017; Seven Suns / Seven Moons (with Tanya McDonald), NeoPoiesis Press, 2016; and Off the Beaten Track: A Year in Haiku, Boatwhistle Books, 2016.

Michael Frazier
A Poem is a Thing that Moves: Contemporary Lyric Poems
Craft Workshop

A lyric poem is a thing that moves, through time, one’s mind, and, in turn, moves the hearts of readers. We will read and analyze lyric poems that move towards unanswerable questions, via associative jumps, by Leila Chatti, Li-Young Lee, and Aracelis Girmay. We will write our own lyric poems!

Scan through most recently released poetry collections and you are bound to find poems marked not by chronological narratives, but by incongruent images, ideas, and questions seemingly held together by only a distinct first-person voice and the magic of poetry. In this workshop we want to dispel the illusion of the non-linear lyric poem. We will read a handful of lyric poems that rely on associative jumps by Leila Chatti, L-Young Lee, Terrance Hayes, and Aracelis Girmay. We will analyze how these writers navigate through a poem (motifs, music, etc.), and pursue a question to arrive at a new revelation (the turn). As a result, we will understand how their poems are maps for how their actual minds move and perceive the world. A poem is a thing that moves, through time, one’s mind, and, in turn, moves the hearts of readers. Under scaffolded prompting, we will write our own lyric poems that prioritize the patterns of our psyche.

Michael Frazier is a poet & HS Teacher living in Kanazawa, Japan. Pushcart Prize & Best New Poets nominated, his poems appear in Poetry Daily, The Offing, RHINO, Tinderbox, Tokyo Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. Currently, he’s facilitating a biweekly zoom poetry book club open to the public. Message @fraziermichael to join!

Michael Pronko
Why secondary characters aren’t secondary
Short Lecture with Q&A

This talk will focus on what many how-to writing books leave out—effective ways to develop secondary characters and reasons why they are so important. By analyzing examples of secondary characters, examining their effects, and considering ways to create these characters, the talk will consider this crucial element of fiction.

No matter where a reader might focus in a work of long fiction, secondary characters are not that secondary. Though main characters tend to hog the reading spotlight, without secondary characters acting as mirror, foil, double and counterpoint, the main characters would have little story arc. However well a main character is written, secondary characters add more than just hurdles or help. They add a dimensionality that can transform a story from flat trajectory to complex journey. Secondary characters might not get equal billing, but they deserve equal attention. This talk will look at what many how-to writing books leave out— reasons for emphasizing secondary characters and effective ways to develop them. This talk will analyze examples of secondary characters, examine their effects, offer ways to develop them, and consider the larger implications of character-filled stories.

Michael Pronko has written for many publications, but focuses on the Detective Hiroshi series, including the award-winning The Last Train, The Moving Blade, and Tokyo Traffic. He also has three collections of writing about Tokyo and runs the website Jazz in Japan. He teaches American Literature at Meiji Gakuin University.

Paul Rossiter, Eric Selland, C. E. J. Simons
This Year at Isobar
Group Reading with Q&A

In this session, Paul Rossiter will introduce and read from his two new books, The Pleasures of Peace, consisting of recent work from Japan and the UK, and Coconut Palms & Sandalwood Boxes, a book-length sequence of poems chronicling a trip – geographical and historical – through Sri Lanka; Eric Selland will introduce and read from his translation of Yoshioka Minoru’s modernist masterpiece. Kusudama; and C. E. J. Simons will introduce and read from his volume of new poems Flight Risk.

Paul Rossiter has published ten books of poetry since 1995. After retiring from teaching at the University of Tokyo in 2012, he founded Isobar Press, which specialises in publishing English-language poetry from Japan, and English translations of modernist and contemporary Japanese poetry. More information can be found at:

Eric Selland has published five books or chapbooks of his own work and has translated a total of seven volumes of poetry by important contemporary Japanese poets. His translation of The Guest Cat, a novel by Takashi Hiraide, was on the New York Times bestseller list in early 2014, and his translation of poems by Kiwao Nomura, The Day Laid Bare, was chosen as a Recommended Translation by The Poetry Book Society, UK, for their winter 2020 season.

C. E. J. Simons is Senior Associate Professor of Literature at ICU in Tokyo. He has held the Harper-Wood Studentship in Creative Writing at St John’s College Cambridge. His most recent poetry collection is Flight Risk (Isobar Press, 2021). His criticism and poetry have appeared in numerous UK publications including the TLS.

Sarah Hinlicky Wilson
How to Launch Your Own Independent Press
Short Lecture with Q&A
Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translation

As recently as a decade ago, “self-publishing” was a euphemism for shameful “vanity publishing.” Since then publishing has radically altered, and the new indie approach is edgy, innovative, and challenging an entrenched industry. Wilson shares her journey of launching her own press, plus tips and resources for starting your own.

Until recently, you couldn’t get published without gatekeepers, who not only dictated your content but took 90%+ of your profits. The alternative was exploitation at the other extreme by vanity publishers charging outrageous sums to print your book.

Innovation over the past decade has changed everything. You can hire top-tier freelance editors, designers, and illustrators easily and safely through online marketplaces. You can affordably print a single book, or a thousand, or distribute ebooks and audiobooks. With personal websites, newsletter sign-ups, social media, and more, you can build a tribe of fans directly. Add to this the warm and collaborative support that indie authors and publishers offer one another, and you’ll never bother pitching an agent again!

Sarah Hinlicky Wilson shows how she launched her own press—and how you can, too.

Sarah Hinlicky Wilson is the author of 200+ articles and multiple books. She co-hosts the podcast “Queen of the Sciences: Conversations between a Theologian and Her Dad” and writes the quarterly e-newsletter “Theology & a Recipe.” She is associate pastor at Tokyo Lutheran Church and founder of Thornbush Press.

Steven Wolfson
Development 101: A Workshop on the ins and outs of Screenplay Development
Short Lecture with Q&A

This workshop focuses on what really happens when a screenplay is developed for production. From issues of character and story to three-act structure and commercial viability, the class will look at the development process from both the perspective of the writer and the production company or studio.

Whether you are writing a studio feature or an independent film, at some point your script will enter the process known as ‘development.’ This workshop focuses on what really happens when a screenplay is developed for production. From issues of character and story to three-act structure and commercial viability, the class will look at the development process from both the perspective of the writer and the production company or studio. Through a series of writing exercises, students will learn how to manage script notes while at the same time protecting the integrity of their screenplay. The final goals of the workshop are a demystification of the development process and the tools to make your screenplay as production-friendly as possible.

Steven Wolfson has taught screenwriting, playwriting and creative writing at The Writers Program at UCLA for the past 20 years and holds the distinction of having created the most new classes, workshops and seminars of any instructor in the program’s history. He has been awarded The Outstanding Instructor of the Year award twice, in both screenwriting and creative writing. As a screenwriter, Wolfson has sold projects to Fox, Lions Gate, TNT, MTV, Langley Entertainment, Beacon Films and producer Arnold Rifkin. Wolfson wrote the independent romantic comedy, Dinner and Driving, which premiered at The Austin Film Festival and went on to win audience awards at several film festivals and was sold to HBO. Wolfson also wrote and co-produced the critically acclaimed Lionsgate feature, Gang Tapes, a coming-of-age drama set in South Central, Los Angeles. Gang Tapes played to sold out audiences at film festivals in both The United States and Europe.

Suzanne Kamata
Clara Kiyoko Kumagai, Kristin Osani , Clarissa Goenawan, Sara Fujimura
Writing Identity, From Inside and Outside
Panel Discussion

In this era of #ownvoices and a heightened awareness of identity politics, what stories should be told, who should be allowed to write them, and how they should be presented are often contentious issues. In this moderated session, five authors of different backgrounds, writing inside and out of their lanes, will discuss diversity, identity, inclusivity, and their own experiences and approaches to writing these in their own work.

Identity politics play a large part in determining which stories are published and how they are currently received in the English-speaking market. Generation Z readers — the audience for YA and New Adult titles — are especially aware of issues surrounding diversity, appropriation, and ownership. In this session, to be moderated by Suzanne Kamata, four authors of different backgrounds, writing about Japan from inside and out of their lanes, will discuss diversity, identity, inclusivity, and their own experiences and approaches to writing these in their own work.

In this era of #ownvoices and a heightened awareness of identity politics, what stories should be told, who should be allowed to write them, and how they should be presented are often contentious issues. In this moderated session, five authors of different backgrounds, writing inside and out of their lanes, will discuss diversity, identity, inclusivity, and their own experiences and approaches to writing these in their own work.

Award-winning author Suzanne Kamata was born and raised in the United States, but has lived in Japan for more than half of her life. She is the author or editor of 15 published books including, most recently, The Baseball Widow (Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing, 2021) and Pop Flies, Robo-pets and Other Disasters (One Elm Books, 2020).

Clara Kiyoko Kumagai is from Canada, Japan and Ireland. She writes fiction and non-fiction for children and adults, and has had work published in Banshee, Room, Event, and Cicada. She currently lives in Tokyo.

Kristin Osani is a freelance Japanese to English translator, writer, and editor
Her previous projects include LEFT ALIVE, ONINAKI, CODE SHIFTER, DRAGALIA LOST, and many more. Her short fiction is forthcoming in Flash Point SF.

Clarissa Goenawan is an Indonesian-born Singaporean writer. Her award-winning short fiction has appeared in literary magazines and anthologies in Singapore, Australia, Japan, Indonesia, the UK, and the US. Rainbirds, her first novel, has been published in eleven different languages.

Sara Fujimura is an award-winning young adult author and creative writing teacher. She is the American half of her Japanese-American family, and has written about Japanese culture and raising bicultural children for such magazines as Appleseeds, Learning Through History, East West, and Mothering, as well as travel-related articles for To Japan With Love. Her young adult novels include Tanabata Wish, Breathe, Every Reason We Shouldn’t (Tor Teen, 2020) and Faking Reality (Tor Teen, 2021). She lives in Phoenix with her husband and children.

Suzanne Kamata, THE BASEBALL WIDOW (Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing, 2021)
Clara Kumagai, “Memorials,” in The Stinging Fly, Winter 2020-21
Kristin Osani, English translation of Balan Wonderworld: Maestro of Mysteries, Theatre of Wonders by Soshi Kawasaki (Square Enix, 2021)
Clarissa Goenawan, THE PERFECT WORLD OF MIWAKO SUMIDA (Soho Press, 2020)
Sara Fujimura, FAKING REALITY (Tor Teen, 2021)

Todd Jay Leonard
So you want to publish a book? 10 Basic Points to Keep in Mind!
Short Lecture with Q&A

Professor Leonard has published extensively over the past 30 years and is willing to share his experiences of both Japanese traditional publishing houses and POD formats to assist budding authors in their quests to get published.

This lecture will cover ten primary points that “potential” authors need to keep in mind when submitting a proposal to a publishing company or when self-publishing a book. He will outline the basic process from the book’s initial concept to getting the book into print to marketing it. His extensive experience in publishing as an author in Japan will serve to assist budding authors with the basics in the overall process that need to be considered when pursuing a publishing contract or when self-publishing. This is a short lecture with a Q & A format.

Todd Jay Leonard lives, writes, and teaches on the southern island of Kyushu, where he is a university professor at the University of Teacher Education Fukuoka. He has published extensively in academic journals, magazines, and newspapers on cross-cultural, historical, and Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) themes. He is the author of 25 books.

Tom Baker
Trivia Tips: How to Write a Pub Quiz
Short Lecture with Q&A
Other Genre

Quizzes should be challenging but fun – and that requires well-written questions. I will discuss various question formats, writing with brevity and clarity, organizing categories, anticipating and heading off disputes, making obscure questions guessable, and techniques for flattering your audience by writing easy questions that sound hard.

“I once attended a pub quiz in Bristol where a dispute over an answer resulted in a wild west-style brawl and the police had to be called,” a woman told the BBC in 2005. “Arrests were made, including the quizmaster.”
Quizzes should be fun. If you wish to host one that doesn’t end in tears – or behind bars – well-written questions are essential.
Drawing on my experience as both a contestant and a quizmaster, I will offer tips on how to write questions that are clear, entertaining, and minimally disputable.
Using examples from quizzes seen on TV and at pubs around Tokyo, I will discuss a variety of question formats, writing with brevity and clarity, ways of organizing categories, anticipating hecklers and nit-pickers, making obscure questions guessable, and the importance of flattering your audience by writing easy questions that sound hard.

Tom Baker appeared on four regular-season episodes of the U.S. quiz show “Jeopardy!” in 2004, before returning for the season-ending Tournament of Champions. He first guest-hosted a round of a Tokyo pub quiz in 2019, and has written and presented more than 20 rounds since then.

He presented over 20 rounds of questions live at a monthly charity pub quiz held at the Footnik bar in Ebisu, Tokyo, before the pandemic began, and has continued on Zoom since then. Topics have included “The FBI 10 Most Wanted List,” “Pigs and Rats,” “Literary Works,” “Officeholders,” “Prime Numbers,” “Traveling Around Japan,” “Body Parts” and “Motorcycle Gangs and Clubs.”

Walt Mussell
Across Time and Time Zones: Researching history from half a world away.
Short Lecture with Q&A

Presentation will discuss ways to do historical research on Japan while residing in another country. Presentation will include tips from famous authors on how they performed research (including non-Japan). Presentation to offer Q&A for attendees who wish to submit their own challenges and brainstorm ways to solve them.

Japan is the inspiration for the presenter’s works. He spent four years there in the 90s, met his wife there, and has visited several times since. However, his last visit was in 2008 and his first book, The Samurai’s Heart, was published in 2017. The presenter will detail the challenges he faced in researching Japanese history from the southern U.S. and what he has done to overcome it.

In addition, the presenter will introduce a list of challenges faced by historical authors that research not only Japan but histories of other countries as well. Detailing the challenges faced by other authors will hopefully provide attendees ideas as to how they might creatively pursue their own research challenges.

Lastly, the presenter will engage the attendees to bring up their own research challenges and the group will brainstorm on ways to help the writers solve their challenges.

Walt Mussell lives in an Atlanta-area suburb. He writes historicals, mostly about Japan where he lived for four years. He refers to his work as “Like Shogun, but the heroine survives.” His works include The Samurai’s Honor, The Samurai’s Heart, and A Second Chance. Visit his website at

Yuri Kageyama
Yoshiaki Tago, Kouzan Kikuchi (if we have a Q&A)
NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA: Meditation on an Under-Reported Catastrophe by a Poet
Film, theatre, dance, music, poetry, possible Q&A

Film showing with possibly a Q&A with the writer, director and musician

The showing of my award-winning film that documents a performance in San Francisco of a theater piece I wrote of poetry, music and dance. Film directed by Yoshiaki Tago. Performance directed by Carla Blank. A Japan premiere. The film is 1 hour and 14 minutes long.

Fukushima is the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. It will take decades and billions of dollars to keep the multiple meltdowns under control. Spewed radiation has reached as far as the American West Coast. Some 100,000 people were displaced from the no-go zone. But, 10 years after 3.11, the story hardly makes headlines.
Journalist Yuri Kageyama turns to poetry, dance, theater, music and film, to remind us that the human stories must not be forgotten. Carla Blank, who has collaborated with Suzushi Hanayagi and Robert Wilson, brings together a multicultural cast of artists to direct this provocative theater piece. Performing at ZSpace in San Francisco are U.S.-based actors/dancers Takemi Kitamura, Monisha Shiva, Shigeko Sara Suga. The musicians are Stomu Takeishi, Isaku Kageyama and Joe Small, as well as Japan-based Kouzan Kikuchi. Lighting design by Blu. Video by Yoshiaki Tago, who also directed the film. The film has won various awards, including Best Documentary Feature at the Rome International Movie Awards and Grand Festival Award at the Berkeley Video and Film Festival. It is still making the festival rounds and is not yet widely available to the public. The showing will be a Japan premiere. We are interested in getting feedback from this literary audience. Parts of the piece were first published in Ishmael Reed’s literary magazine KONCH in 2015. Reed called it, “A powerful reflection on the corruption and greed of men and their indifference to human life.” An earlier version debuted at LaMama in New York, with music led by Melvin Gibbs, in 2015.

Yuri Kageyama is a poet, journalist, filmmaker and author of THE NEW AND SELECTED YURI (Ishmael Reed Publishing, 2011). Her films include NEWS FROM FUKUSHIMA, and THE VERY SPECIAL DAY, a collaboration with stop motion animation artist Hayatto. B.A. Cornell University. M.A. University of California, Berkeley. Certificate New York Film Academy.

Zoria Petkoska
Cyber Poetry: Writing the Future in Poetry and Writing Poetry From the Future
Short Lecture with Q&A

This lecture will dig into all the ways cyber poetry possibilities have expanded thanks to technology. I will explore the ways poetry can be futuristic, where it overlaps with concrete poetry in its use of asemic elements, and how can we employ AI writers.

Spliced with coding, images and sounds, cyber poetry or digital poetry (to use two of the most prominent terms for this still-emerging genre) is getting ever more popular and complex thanks to leaps in technology. It certainly seems anachronistic to not use technology as a tool or as a theme in poetry, seeing how it is an integral part of our lives. One might say that when we started publishing poems on websites that was an early form of cyber poetry. However, not everyone is using the full potential of technology to create cyber poetry. We will discuss all the ways technology can be a tool, down to employing AI generators as writers. This will also raise the question of authorship and credit. I will also explore the overlaps with concrete poetry, and the difference from sci-fi writing.

Zoria Petkoska K. is an Associate Editor at Tokyo Poetry Journal, editor-in-chief of the literary journal [Ш], and an Assistant Editor at Tokyo Weekender magazine. She completed a MEXT Research Fellowship at TUFS on Japanese visual poetry translation, and has published two poetry books. She writes in English, Macedonian, and Japanese, and has been published in poetry magazines and anthologies in Japan, China, Hong Kong, and the USA, among others.

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