Program for JWC 2019

Japan Writers Conference 2019 was held at Meiji Gakuin University, Tokyo, with Michael Pronko as host.
Due to a typhoon, some presentations were cancelled. All the scheduled presentations are listed below alphabetically by presenter name:


Charles Kowalski
How to Keep Readers Turning Pages The secret to creating suspense is
Craft Workshop

This workshop will present ways of creating conflict and suspense. Specific topics to be addressed include the multiple layers of suspense (paragraph-level, scene-level, macrosuspense, and hypersuspense), how to make effective use of the pre, during, and post around key incidents, and the difference between suspense and action. The principles discussed can be applied to any genre.

Charles Kowalski is an active member of International Thriller Writers. His debut thriller, MIND VIRUS, won the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Award, and was a finalist for the Clive Cussler Grandmaster Award, the Killer Nashville Claymore Award, and the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Literary Award.

C. E. J. (Christopher) Simons

One Rhyme To Rule Them All How to Write Poetry and Use Published Poetry in Fantasy and Sci-fi poetry in science fiction and fantasy.
Lecture workshop

This session is a workshop focused on how to write poetry, and use published poetry, in works of science fiction and fantasy. The session will review the use of poetry by SF and fantasy authors such as Mary Wroth, Sara Coleridge, J. R. R. Tolkein, Ursula K. Le Guin, Douglas Adams, Dan Simmons, and Gene Wolfe. The session presentation will suggest when and how verse can be used effectively in SF and fantasy, and how to write poetry for different fiction projects. A brief workshop will give participants a chance to try writing a few lines of serious or light-hearted verse for either (a) a well-known work of SF or fantasy such as Star Wars or Lord of the Rings or (b) their own SF or fantasy story.

The presentation will examine some technical problems that arise when authors attempt to write deliberately antiquated verse, such as for medieval fantasy novels. It will also (time permitting) include some discussion of the opportunities and challenges of pitching SF and fantasy novels that incorporate poetry to agents and publishers.

C. E. J. (Christopher) Simons is Senior Associate Professor of British Literature at ICU (International Christian University), Tokyo. He holds a D.Phil in British Romanticism from Lincoln College, Oxford, and in 2003 he held the Harper-Wood Studentship in Creative Writing at St Johns College Cambridge. His first full collection of poetry, One More Civil Gesture, was published by Isobar Press in 2015, and his second collection, Underground Facility, will be published in 2018. His poems have won prizes in international competitions including the Bridport Competition, the Cardiff International Poetry Competition and the Wigtown Competition. His criticism and poetry have appeared in publications including the Independent, Isis, Magma, Oxford Poetry, PN Review, The Times Literary Supplement, and World Haiku. Christopher is currently pitching his first young-adult science fiction novel to agents and publishers.

David Gilbey
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 debidogirubi(at) (substitute the @ sign).

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 six 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 others 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.

Diane Hawley Nagatomo
How an academic identity theory may be of use in creating fictional characters

Workshop attendees will explore how a theoretical framework used for exploring identity in academic research might be a useful tool for adding depth to fictional characters.

This workshop will explore how linguist James Paul Gees theory of identity might enable writers to add layers of depth to their fictional characters. Gee defines identity as being a certain type of person in a given context, and he offers four perspectives from which to view identity development. First I will describe the four perspectives of identity. Then I will show how I used it to interpret interview data. Finally, through guided discussion and activities, we will explore ways that this framework might be of use to fiction writers.

Diane Hawley Nagatomo has been living and teaching in Japan since 1979 and is the author of numerous EFL textbooks and academic papers as well as two academic monographs that explore the lives of English teachers in Japan. She dreams of publishing a novel.

Dorothy Hiu Hung Tse and James Shea
Writing Time Zero From Painting to Fiction
Short lecture with QA and a craft workshop

This session begins with a short lecture on a story by a Hong Kong author and how her work uses the paintings of Ren Magritte and Italo Calvino’ s idea of time zero. Participants will be invited to write a short piece in response.
This session focuses on experimental fiction writing methods through a discussion of cross-media practices and reflections on genre conventions. It will begin with a short lecture on the story Marvels of a Floating City, written by the prominent Hong Kong writer Xi Xi and include a discussion of the writing strategies applied in this piece which juxtapose Ren Magritte’s 13 paintings with 13 texts, and how it adopts Italo Calvino’ s idea of time zero to break through the conventions of narrative fiction. Participants will be invited to write a short piece in response to the story based on the ideas and writing techniques introduced.

Dorothy Tse is the author of four short story collections in Chinese, including So Black and A Dictionary of Two Cities. Her collection, Snow and Shadow, translated by Nicky Harman, was long-listed for The University of Rochesters 2015 Best Translated Book Award. A recipient of the Hong Kong Biennial Award for Chinese Literature and Taiwans Unitas New Fiction Writers Award, Tse is a co-founder of the Hong Kong literary magazine Fleurs de lettres. She currently teaches literature and writing at Hong Kong Baptist University. Snow and Shadow website http//www.musemag. hk/books/snow-and-shadow

James Shea is the author of two poetry collections, The Lost Novel and Star in the Eye. Star in the Eye was selected for the Fence Modern Poets Series and included in the Poetry Society of Americas New American Poets series. He currently teaches at Hong Kong Baptist University.

Eric Johnston
A Field Guide to English-Language News Reporting On Japan

This is a practical, how-to guide for writers who want to submit story ideas to Japans English-language media, either as budding freelance news reporters or as occasional Op-Ed writers. What do you need to know about Japan, and about the industry, in order to develop a steady career What do you need to study and read in order to catch an editors attention What kind of writing is in demand And what kinds of research skills and knowledge give aspiring writers a leg up on their competition Based on my nearly quarter century experience as a full-time writer for English-language newspapers and my past experience as a freelancer for overseas media, Ill review the English-language media landscape and offer some tips.
Eric Johnston is Senior Kansai Correspondent at The Japan Times. In 2016, he covered U.S. President Barack Obama’s trip to Hiroshima and traveled to Hawaii to cover Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s trip to Pearl Harbor. He covered the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and the 2009 Copenhagen Accord conferences, the 2010 Biodiversity Conference in Nagoya, and numerous other UN conferences on issues ranging from disaster relief to nuclear nonproliferation to health.

In addition to The Japan Times, Erics work has appeared in The International Herald-Tribune, The Guardian, The Observer, USA Today, The Times of London, and Adbusters magazine among many others In addition to journalism, he has guest lectured at universities in Hokkaido, Yamagata, Tokyo, the Kansai region and in the U.S. and Australia on Japans energy issues and media landscape.

The Font – 2018’s Best
Readings with QA

The Font – A Literary Journal for Language Teachers is an online journal of quality writing on the theme of teaching and learning languages at home and abroad. Authors of some of this year’s best publications will read their works and answer questions.

The Font A Literary Journal for Language Teachers is a journal about teaching and learning languages at home and abroad. It looks at the topic from a more creative, literary, and humanistic perspective than existing academic publications. It publishes quality short stories, articles, essays, anecdotes, poems, interviews, and other forms of creative writing which provide insight, reflection, humour, and inspiration on the theme of teaching and learning languages at home and abroad. It seeks to publish writing by language teachers, learners and translators in all countries, and in doing so become a venue for language teachers and learners of the world to come together and share. It also promotes the idea of creative writing as a form of arts based research, and seeks to create a collection of works which arts based researchers can draw on. Join us, enjoy some quality writing on this theme and learn more about what is going on at The Font.

The Font Editor James Crocker lectures at Kobe Women’s University. He has been Editor of The Font for all of it’s 5 years and 10 issues. He has presented at several Japan Writer’s Conferences and also international TESOL conferences. His publications include TESOL curriculum material and readers for Southeast Asian schools.

Gareth Jones and John Wolfgang Roberts
Stories Storying Story Walking through our Narrative Landscape(s)
Short discussion live collaborative walking event and feedback

Participants will be unleashed upon the campus to wander its labyrinthine spaces. Armed with smartphones and Facebook, and the plethora of human emotions, walkers are encouraged to post pictures, videos, memories, quotes, ruminations, or any other spontaneous artistic construction associated with, or inspired by the things and spaces encountered.

The purpose of this session is to walk through/with the chaotic jumble of narrative entities and co-participate as storytellers. The presenters (a psychogeographer and a metafictionist) see place and narrative as synonymous material events. Likewise, they see material events as stories in the co-participatory process of being told between people, places and the myriad objects that come in and out of this ongoing storying. It follows, then, that our stories are the places of our experiencesin our texts, minds, landscapes and right in front of us. This session consists of walks throughout the campus, utilizing Facebook technology to record the material events around us, which in turn (through Facebook) will feedback into the walk itself. This walk serves three main objectives to offer an experience of present-continuous storytelling an example of a creative exercise useful for mining creative material and, to serve as historians documenting this years JWC event.

Gareth is a British artist, researcher and educator living in Osaka, Japan. His practice-based research is an enquiry into place and subjectivity. Aimed at promoting personal, cultural and environmental wellbeing, this interdisciplinary practice entangles creative walking, writing, drawing and theoretical analysis. Gareth presents his research in a number of international contexts and is a member of the steering committee for the International Visual Methods Conference. He is currently a PhD candidate with the School of Humanities, University of Dundee, Scotland, UK.

John Wolfgang Roberts teaches at Mie University. He is a PhD student at the University of Birmingham, completing his thesis on metafictions as heuristics for engaging the narrative ecologies of people, societies, and technologies. His fiction and poetry have appeared in MiNUS Tides, Shale, and Post Poetry Magazine.

Gregory Strong
Writing Graded Readers Building on the Basics of Story Writing
Short lecture with Q&A

Drawing on the presenters experience writing graded readers, particularly Battle for Big Tree Country (2015), Cengage, an Extensive Reading Foundation 2016 award winner, this presentation emphasizes five key principles in writing graders, starting in medias res, maintaining conflict, charting plot, examining genres, and finally, making a book proposal.
This presentation draws on the presenter’s experience writing graded readers, particularly Battle for Big Tree Country (2015), Cengage, an Extensive Reading Foundation 2016 award winner. Some resources will be outlined, along with narrative devices. The presentation will emphasize five principles in writing graders, from formulating the story to making the sales pitch. This starts with the premise that a good story should start in medias res (in the middle of things). Other principles to be explored are how to maintain conflict in a story, charting a story’s plot, examining the genre of graded readers, and finally, making a book proposal to a publisher. Some very successful graded readers will be introduced as well as sample synopses for proposed graded readers.

Gregory Strong has published more than 200 pieces — articles, reviews, stories, chapters, and books, Flying Colours The Toni Onley Story, Harbour Publishing, 2002, with Ann Smith, Adult Learners Context and Innovation, TESOL, 2009, as well as several produced theatre pieces, including The Magic Fan, by Tokyo Theater for Children.

Hans Brinckmann
What to avoid and what to focus on when writing about Japan
Lecture illustrated with PowerPoint and readings, followed by QA

Foreign writers living in Japan are inevitably tempted to write books about Japan. But its important to avoid explaining the country or idealizing it. I will share my approach in writing about this country, notably my book Showa Japan published by both Tuttle, and, in Hiromi Mizoguchis translation, Random House Kodansha.

When writing about Japan it is important to focus on specific elements such as the country’s history, society, or politics avoid generalizing and mix personal experiences and opinions with those of respected Japanese friends and public gures. I will share with you my methodology in writing Showa Japan – The Post-War Golden Age and its Troubled Legacy, a book that enjoyed highly favourable reviews in both Japanese and foreign media, and has recently been reintroduced to the market by its publisher. I used a combination of personal journal notes and photographs interviews with scholars, businessmen and bureaucrats and a written survey of over 100 Japanese from all walks of life. The result as called a balanced approach to Japans postwar history.

Hans Brinckmann, born in The Hague, after a 36-year career as a reluctant banker mostly in Japan, turned to writing fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Three of his books, the novel In the Eyes of the Son, a collection of short stories, The Tomb in the Kyoto Hills, and a bilingual book of poetry, The Undying Day won Honorable Mention Awards at Book Festivals in 2015 and 2016. URL and

Hiromi Mizoguchi
Deconstructing my translation of Brinckmanns The Tomb in the Kyoto Hills and Other Stories
Lecture with PowerPoint, followed by Q&A

Paradoxically, translating a story set in your own country is no less challenging than translating a story located in unfamiliar territory. I will demonstrate how I translated stories set in Japan back in the 1960s and 70s, and how I deconstruct the original text in order to reconstruct its Japanese translation.

The process of translation involves not only language but cultural background and history. As a translator, I always try to reconstruct the particular time and space of the original text. My experience of translating Hans Brinckmann’s short stories gave me an interestingly challenging opportunity all stories are set in Japan half a century ago.

Those stories are not necessarily autobiographical, but all are based on the author’s own experience and observation. I will explore the relationship between the text and the experience that the author had, and how I approached the images and meanings the author created, which originated in Japan that I have never seen.

Hiromi Mizoguchi has translated most of Hans Brinckmanns books, essays and stories, and co-authors his bilingual website Since 2014, her translations of Brinckmanns essays are published regularly in the Japanese literary magazine Atlas, based in Kanda, Tokyo. She holds an MA from the Graduate School of Social and Cultural Studies, Kyushu University.

Holly Thompson
Half the Story Writing for the Picture Book Market
Short Lecture, Exercises and Q&A

Picture book writing is a particular art. Writers of picture book manuscripts must write for page turns and create opportunities for the illustrator writing just enough to offer possibilities. This session introduces the craft of writing picture books for current English-language picture book markets.

Writing is only half the story in picture books–images and text interact to tell the story together. So how do we write text without saying too much Where in our writing should we step aside for the illustrator And how do we compress stories for the strict count of 32 pages How can we skill up to craft manuscripts that appeal to editors and art directors for their illustration possibility This session will explore the anatomy of the picture book as it pertains to writers and offer guidelines for crafting fresh, marketable picture book manuscripts. We’ll examine sample picture books, fiction, nonfiction, poetry and try some interactive exercises. We will address the current English-language picture book markets and share the gaps, openings, and opportunities for writers to get a foot in the door.

Holly Thompson is author of the picture books Twilight Chant One Wave at a Time, The Wakame Gatherers verse novels Falling into the Dragons Mouth, Orchards, The Language Inside and the novel Ash. She writes poetry, fiction and nonfiction, is SCBWI Japan Regional Advisor and teaches at Yokohama City University.

Iain Maloney
The Death of the Genre Recent trends in writing and publishing.
Short lecture with Q&A

This presentation looks at how the boundaries between genres are disappearing. Drawing on my experience as a writer and a professional editor, I will talk about how attitudes to genres are shifting among writers and readers. I will examine recent trends in writing and publishing that indicate the death of genres as clearly defined, distinct categories. I will show how seemingly disparate genres can co-exist within the same work and how writers are breaking down barriers to utilize elements and techniques from different genres. I will also show how attitudes to genre classifications are slowly changing within the industry and look ahead to a future in which the idea of genre as a meaningful method of classification may be dead.

Iain Maloney has published three novels and a poetry collection and works as a fiction editor. He regularly writes about literature for the Japan Times and is based in Gifu.

Isobar Press
The Weather in Tokyo (and Shizuoka) The Years Work at Isobar Press
Poetry reading with short Q&A

Readings from the four latest Isobar books Taro Nakas Music Selected Poems, translated by Andrew Houwen and Chikako Nihei Poems New and Selected by Jane Joritz-Nakagawa (introduced by Paul Rossiter) Temporary Measures by Paul Rossiter and Underground Facility by C. E. J. Simons.

Isobar Press, which is based in Tokyo, specializes in English-language poetry from Japan. In this session, Isobar authors will introduce the latest Isobar books Andrew Houwen will introduce the work of the major and previously almost untranslated post-war poet Naka Taro and read from Music Selected Poems, translated by himself and Chikako Nihei Paul Rossiter will read from Poems New Selected, a selection of work from the years 20062018 by the important Japan-resident avant-garde poet Jane Joritz-Nakagawa C. E. J. Simons will read from his new collection Underground Facility, whose three sections Afterlives, Live Feed and Life Sciences include powerful poems about family, place, animals, and mythology and Paul Rossiter will give a short reading from his own Temporary Measures.

Andrew Houwen is a translator of Dutch and Japanese poetry and an associate professor at Tokyo Woman’s Christian University. With Chikako Nihei he has translated Music Selected Poems by Taro Naka (Isobar, 2018). Individual translations have appeared in Modern Poetry in Translation, Shearsman, Asian Cha, and Tears in the Fence.

Paul Rossiter founded Isobar Press in 2013 after he retired from the University of Tokyo, where he taught Applied Linguistics. He has published seven books of poetry the most recent are From the Japanese (Isobar, 2013), World Without (Isobar, 2015), Seeing Sights (Isobar, 2016), and Temporary Measures (Isobar, 2017).

C. E. J. Simons is a Senior Associate Professor of literature at International Christian University, Tokyo. He holds a D. Phil from Lincoln College, Oxford, and has published on Wordsworth, Shakespeare, Yeats, and Emily Dickinson. Isobar has published two of his collections One More Civil Gesture (2015) and Underground Facility (2018).

Jacinta Plucinski
You’re Not Alone Finding The Right Writing Buddies
Short lecture with Q&A

When your story is dull, your characters won’t talk to you, or your writing time is no longer sacred, what can you do Call in your writing buddies!

In this discussion, Jacinta challenges the notion of writing as a solitary pursuit. Shell talk about the magic of having the right writing community, how to find or create it, ways to keep it alive, and tips and tricks to help each other out of writing potholes.

Within each piece of writing lies the edits, input and encouragement of others, whether it’s through being a sounding board, reading the early, clumsy drafts, or simply checking in to make sure you’re still writing. With so many forums, organizations and meet up groups to choose from, Jacinta will share her roadmap for finding or creating a rewarding writing community.
Jacinta Plucinski runs Zoot Publishing and is a founding member of Hackerfarm where she holds writing retreats and workshops. She has over 19 years of experience writing for organizations including Google and Discovery Channel. For South China Morning Post, shes interviewed more than 400 leaders and influencers across Asia, Europe, The Americas, and The Middle East. She was also an Associate Partner, editor, and writer for the social publication, Be Movement. Writing as Cinta, she’s the author of Who Ate The Cake, Lets Play Hide-and-Seek, and Who Made The Mess

John Williams
Adapting Kafkas Trial for the Screen

I will talk about the process of adapting a novel into a screenplay, mostly focusing on my own adaptation (and resetting) of Kafka’s novel in contemporary Tokyo. I will also make reference to the Orson Welles film version. This will be a practical case study. I will not be talking in a highly theoretical way about adaptation but in a very practical way of use to would-be screenwriters. It may be of interest to writers of fiction too, as I will be talking about the differences between novels and film.

John Williams studied French and German Literature at Trinity College, Cambridge. He moved to Japan in 1988 and established the production company, 100 Meter Films to produce his first feature. He has written and directed three award-winning Japanese feature films, Firefly Dreams (2001), Starfish Hotel (2007) and Sado Tempest (2013). He has also produced documentaries, short films, and feature films, and worked with METI and UNIJAPAN to run the J-Pitch Co-Production initiative. He teaches Film Production and Screenwriting at Sophia University. The Trial is his fourth feature.
Hopefully, we will be able to screen the film in Otaru.

Juliet Winters Carpenter
Translating Shiba Ryotaro’s Ryoma ga yuku
Short lecture with Q&A

The talk will delve into some of the challenges and delights in translating Shiba Ryotaro’s most famous work, Ryoma ga yuku dialects, swordfighting and sword nomenclature, avoiding repetition while maintaining some of the newspaper-novel style, deciding on the level of historical detail needed, and more.

Ryoma ga yuku (1963-66) has been a monster best-seller in Japan, with some 24 million copies sold to date. It is a rollicking page-turner with a beloved protagonist, Sakamoto Ryoma–a man who more than most paved the way for the Meiji Restoration. Three translators have split the volumes (Margaret Mitsutani, vols 4-5 Paul McCarthy, vols. 1, 3, and 7 myself, vols. 2, 6, and 8). The first volume of the English translation is now out, and the rest will follow through 2020. In the talk I will discuss challenges such as rendering various dialects (Kochi, Kagoshima, Edo, Kyoto…) dealing with minutiae of kendo and swords translating the various waka that occur in the text coordinating a myriad details with the help of our indefatigable editor, Phyllis Birnbaum trying not to overwhelm the Western reader with too many foreign personal and place names, and generally trying to make the novel as lively and appealing in English as it is in Japanese.

Juliet Winters Carpenter has lived in Japan for some forty-five years and is a prolific, award-winning translator of Japanese literature. Besides Ryoma!, other recent translations include works by Minae Mizumura, Miura Shion, and Nakano Koji. She will retire from Doshisha Women’s College in March 2019.

Kai Raine
Writing Fictional Diverse Characters That Feel Real How Background and Society Might and Might Not Define a Person
Brief lecture with Q&A/discussion

I will discuss the difficulty of writing diverse characters for a very sensitized audience, and my history of doing this as someone with a very complicated and diverse background. After a brief lecture, I will open up the discussion to the audience.

We live in an age of increasing globalization. In parts of the world, cultural appropriation has become akin to a societal taboo. But the nature of fiction writing is in the weaving of a person other than the self, perhaps in a world other than our own.

There are characters that are inauthentic because they are written without regard to the life and history that comes with their background. Then there are characters that are perceived as inauthentic only because the author didn’t grow up with the background being portrayed.

I will discuss the reactions that some of my queries and works receive from those who are unaware of my background, and how that reaction often changes after I explain my personal history.

After this brief lecture, I will open up the discussion to the audience. I would welcome those writing diverse characters to bring their stories to the discussion.

Cognitive scientist, neurobiologist, and author, Kai Raine writes to question assumptions and the accepted nature of things. Author of the fantasy novel These Lies That Live Between Us and numerous short stories published in anthologies such as Denizens of Darkness and Suddenly Lost in Words. Website at

Kelly Quinn
A Condom Stuffed With Walnuts using character descriptions to confirm genre conventions and advance the narrative
Lecture Discussion

I was quite taken with Peter Mallet’s presentation last year on opening lines and thought to do something similar with character descriptions. What makes a character description effective By looking at some famous examples, we hope to get some insight into how the language of the genre, helps the reader visualize the character and his or her predicament.
This presentation will examine physical descriptions from a variety of genre fiction to research the role the physical description in advancing the plot and reinforcing the narrative elements of the story. We will examine the language used and see that the language used in the physical description of characters and people is not neutral, but has been selected to suit the genre type and expectations of the reader.

Aspiring writers of genre fiction will find insights into improving their own descriptions by maintaining a consistent tone and helping to advance the plot.

Kelly Quinn teaches English and technical writing at Nagoya Institute of Technology. He is the author of several mediocre academic articles and textbooks. His humorous fiction has appeared in Transnational Literature and The Font. His non-fiction Japanese History You Should Know was published by IBC Publishing in 2013.

Lise Goett
Quickness Putting Your Poem on the Train Tracks with the Train Coming
Lecture and Q&A

From Yeats Leda and the Swan to Montales love poems for Irma Brandeis, many great poems embody perfect timing, a quickness suffused with an allusive economy that Italo Calvino identifies as a proximity to death. How does one capture this immediacy?

In his monumental essay, Quickness, Italo Calvino speaks of proximity to death, a quickness, that makes a great poem come alive. How do we as poets access our most essential utterance, this immediacy, and urgency one might call our primal language, and imbue it with a quality of perfect timing Certain forms lend themselves to this essential saying. Poems written as letters, prayers, seductions, aphorisms or even as a single sentence can bring us closer to this more intimate consciousness. Certain forms lend themselves to this essential saying. Poems written as letters, prayers, seductions, aphorisms or even as a single sentence can bring us closer to this more intimate consciousness. How does one stalk this essential lan and bottle it With excerpts from Calvino’s marvelous text, Goett will discuss how to maximize this immediacy and put your poem on the train tracks with the train coming with examples gleaned from contemporary and Modernist poetry for discussion.

Lise Goett’s second book, Leprosarium, was the 2012 winner of the Robert H. Winner Memorial Award in Poetry from the Poetry Society of America and published in February 2018 by Tupelo Press. Her other awards include The Paris Review Discovery Award, The Pen Southwest Book Award in Poetry, the Capricorn Prize from the West Side Y, the James D. Phelan Award from the San Francisco Foundation, and The Barnard New Women Poets Prize for her first poetry collection, Waiting for the Paraclete (Beacon), as well as postgraduate fellowships from The Milton Center and the Creative Writing Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Image, Mandorla, and the Antioch Review.

Loren Goodman
Moist Salvages Generating New, Used Rebuilt Poems from Altered Texts
Craft Workshop

This is an eco-friendly poetry writing/translation workshop in which wethrough subtle and not-so-subtle linguistic alterationreconfigure, recycle and resuscitate a variety of desiccated, dilapidated and abandoned texts both poetic and non-poetic into functional art works of literary and social value.

While a poem can mean different things to each reader, the Absolute pleasure (or vodka) of the poem needs to be distilled. Derived from seven years of hemorrhoids, sonic imagery and sailing as a metaphor for insanity, we begin with the premise that within each text is palpitating poetic confection. If we simply drift upon the sea of our own writing, we may never experience the joy of breaking up on others rocks. While this workshop takes place in the woods under incredibly sharp time constraints, at least half will be devoted to proper enunciation, giving hope to participants that they may be able to escape. Such hope is a fig, not a pheasant. What we must do is undermine the patterns of the past in order to see how futures may be found. All participants will be allowed to levitate briefly during the course of the workshop.

Loren Goodman wrote Famous Americans, selected by W.S. Merwin for the 2002 Yale Series of Younger Poets, Suppository Writing (2008) and New Products (2010). Associate Professor of Creative Writing and English Literature at Yonsei University/Underwood International College in Seoul, Korea, he serves as the UIC Creative Writing Director.

Marian Pierce
Finding stories
Lecture and Q&A

Where do stories come from Sometimes you find stories, and sometimes they find you? I’ll differentiate between the two by discussing where some of the stories in my collection Finding Land Stories of Japan came from. I’ll touch on density, vitality, choreography, conflict, and meaning, as well as how to sustain your story into the middle after you’ve expended that initial rush of energy that propels you to begin. If time allows, well also discuss by what means writers engross readers in their fictional world.

Marian Pierce (MFA, Iowa Writers’ Workshop) has worked for NHK radio, backpacked in the Himalayas, and traveled to India four times. Her stories have appeared in Hospital Drive, GQ, Portland Monthly Magazine, Yomimono, Creative Writers’ Handbook, Scribner’s Best of the Fiction Workshops 1997, STORY, The Mississippi Review, Confrontation, and Puerto del Sol.

Mark Austin
Multimedia Journalism a Revolution in Storytelling
Lecture with activity

This will be an introduction to the strengths and weaknesses of the five-plus one media elements text, video, still, photography, audio, graphics, and social media and how they can be combined for effective communication. Participants will watch two documentary videos, by the BBC and SBS, featuring multimedia content, look at an interactive graphic by Italian newspaper La Stampa and do a multimedia storytelling activity.

Mark Austin is a Scottish journalist and academic. He worked for The Yomiuri Shimbun in Tokyo for 13 years before moving to India in 2010 to teach multimedia journalism as a visiting professor at the Indian Institute of Journalism New Media in Bangalore. Back in Tokyo since 2015, he is a script editor at NHK World, a copy editor at Jiji Press and a visiting professor at Tama Graduate School of Business, where he teaches business communication. As well as writing and reporting for The Daily Yomiuri (now The Japan News) and The Yomiuri Shimbun, he has written and reported for newspapers and magazines including The Asahi Evening News, The Independent, The Irish Independent, Scotland on Sunday, Newsweek Japan and The Diplomat. He has lectured on journalism at colleges, roundtables, and forums across India and Japan.

Michael Pronko
Becoming an Indie Writer-Publisher
Lecture with Q&A

The opportunities for independent publishing are vast in this digital age. However, the challenges are complex and intimidating. This talk will focus on my experience of becoming an independent writer-publisher. I will provide details of how writers can set up their own network and present ideas on how and why to accomplish that.

Going indie is not as easy as most writers would hope and depends on a variety of people. The talk will get into the specifics of who is needed and how to work with them. Finding ways to work with assistants, editors, proofreaders, formatters, and designers, among others adds tremendously to the process of writing and post-writing.

The indie mindset differs from those of traditional publishing. Attending to business details, diligently working on the writing, and developing a broad understanding of the complex interconnections between writing and publishing are invaluable to developing productively and creatively.

I’ve published three award-winning books on Tokyo life. My mystery, The Last Train, also won numerous awards, with the follow-up, The Moving Blade out this year. I’ve written for Newsweek Japan, The Japan Times, Artscape Japan, and my website, Jazz in Japan. I teach American Literature at Meiji Gakuin University.

Peter Marsh
Authentic Dialogue

This workshop will allow participants to develop their ear for authentic dialogue that is to say, for making their characters speak like real people, and using dialogue to display and develop character.

The presenter will give an entirely personal (i.e. deeply considered, but unresearched) take on the elements of dialogue writing. The rules of punctuation of direct speech will be covered, as will the use of dialogue tags, but the rude mechanics will not be dwelt upon. The main purpose of the workshop will be to get people to compose dialogue in voices distinct both from one another and from the narrator. Samples of excellence from both narrative and dramatic writing will be examined for imitable tropes and techniques. Exercises will be then set in which a dialogue presented in received English is to be rewritten as if it occurred between, say, a brash sports coach and a shy professor of philosophy, or an arrogant plumber and a sleazy investment adviser. The dialogues will be read in a neutral tone, and the audience invited to guess the identity of each character.

Peter Marsh lives in Yokohama, and is a regular member of the Tokyo Writers Workshop. His stories have been published most recently in The Font, The Lowestoft Chronicle and Fabula Argentea. He has recently completed a musical, of few of the songs from which were performed at the last JWC. Peter has noticed that it is often the quietest people who have the best ear for dialogue.

Rosey Chang
Exploring Mindful Writing Practice
Experiential workshop

In this hands-on workshop, participants will be led through a short, mindfulness meditation, and experience a mindful-writing activity.

The presenter will briefly discuss understandings of mindfulness — drawing from contemporary contemplative science and long-standing traditions of Zen arts practice. She will focus on frameworks that are relevant to creative writers and related practitioners, including what John Daido Loori Roshi calls the still point in creative practice. Inspired by Jon Kabat-Zinns observation that Mindfulness can only be understood from the inside out, participants will be invited to take part in a short, mindfulness meditation. Participants will also engage in a mindful-writing activity, drawing from the work of Natalie Goldberg, Dennis Palumbo, and Bonnie Freedman. There will be time for participants to discuss their reflections.
Bring writing materials.

Rosey’s short story, The Girl who Drew Cats appeared in Victorian Writer. She has also published in TEXT, Peril, and Research Whisperer. Roseys Ph.D. research at Monash University, Melbourne, explores creative writer’s experiences of writing practice through the lens of mindfulness. She is developing a middle-grade novel.

Sara Kate Ellis
Its the Story, St#pid What Fic Taught Me about Writing
Short lecture with craft workshop and sharing

Much-maligned and misunderstood, fanfiction or fic enjoys a tremendous following among readers and writers, providing the chance for both newbie and veteran alike to venture away from creative comfort zones and receive immediate audience feedback. In contrast to IRL or even online writers workshops, fic platforms also offer up an ever-present and easily accessible readership, one often engaged with story logic, emotional clarity, and characterization over but not necessarily at the expense of craft. This presentation is not about the merits or lack thereof of fic vs. the writer’s workshop, but focuses on how one can leverage the benefits from both to take risks and improve your writing while staying motivated and yes!having fun. In this workshop, I’ll discuss what I’ve learned from a year of playing in the fic sandbox, after which participants will write and share their own mini-fics. Please bring your own pens and mass-market characters!

Sara Kate Ellis was a 2011 Lambda Emerging Writers Fellow and is a Milford Science Fiction Workshop Alum. Her stories have appeared in Ideomancer, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Crossed Genres, and AE-The Canadian Science Fiction Review. Her story Liarbird also won the 2015 Defenestrationism short fiction contest. She lives in Tokyo.

Shivaji Das
Why Just be a Traveller Be a Travel Writer! – Travel Writing Workshop
Workshop with Exercises

The workshop will cover the essentials of travel writing in our current age, with tips on getting published in various online and print platforms. Interactive exercises will be given to participants to demonstrate the techniques. The workshop is aimed at beginners as well as budding travel writers.

You love traveling. Then why not share your travel experiences with a wider world The workshop will aim to answer the following questions How can I write a great travel story What should I include and what should I exclude How do I structure the flow of my writing What kind of pictures and multimedia can I use to enhance my story What else do I need besides a pen and a camera Who should I approach for publication How should I write the pitch How do I create and sustain my brand as a travel writer.

Shivaji Das is the author of three travel memoirs and photography books. His latest book is Angels by the Murky River Travels Off the Beaten Path. Shivajis work has been featured in TIME, Economist, BBC, Asian Geographic, etc. He is the conceptualizer of Migrant Poetry Contests in Singapore and Malaysia.

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI)

Join SCBWI Members and those interested in writing for children and young adults for a lunchtime meet-up and informational gathering. Bring a bento lunch. SCBWI Japan Regional Advisor Holly Thompson will lead this gathering.
The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators ( is an international professional organization for authors, illustrators and translators of books for children and young adults. The mission is to support the creation and availability of quality childrens books in every region of the world. Through awards, events, and publications, SCBWI aims to give established writers, illustrators and translators the tools and resources to manage their careers, as well as educate those just starting out. SCBWI is also proud to serve as a consolidated voice for its members within the publishing industry. Membership in SCBWI is open to anyone with an active interest in childrens literature, from picture books to young adult novels. There are active SCBWI regional chapters throughout the world including Japan (

Suzanne Kamata
The Truth about Writing Contests
Short lecture with Q&A

I will describe various kinds of writing contests, the pros and cons of entering said contests, and give advice on how to improve an entrant’s chances of winning.

There are many contests for writers. Some may think that it’s not worth the time or the cost of the entrance fees. After all, many contests get hundreds of submissions, and judging is often somewhat subjective every reader has different likes and dislikes. However, thanks to winning or placing in writing competitions, I have received plane tickets to Paris, Sydney, and Columbia, South Carolina (from my home in Japan). I’ve also been awarded cash, medals, trophies, and plaques and shiny prize stickers for my books, not to mention bragging rights and prestige. A contest win can also be an excuse for a burst of publicity. Contests may lead to recognition, getting an agent or publisher, and book sales. So how do you decide which contests to enter How do you win In this session I will share my expertise as a frequent contest entrant, sometime winner, and occasional judge.

Suzanne Kamata has won many awards for her writing including a grant from SCBWI for her forthcoming novel tentatively titled Indigo Girl (GemmaMedia 2018), a grant from the Sustainable Arts Foundation for her as-yet-unpublished mother/daughter travel memoir Squeaky Wheels, the Paris Book Festival Grand Prize for Gadget Girl The Art of Being Invisible (GemmaMedia 2013), and an IPPY Silver Medal for her most recently published novel The Mermaids of Lake Michigan (Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing 2017).

Suzanne Kamata and Wendy Jones Nakanishi
Introducing The Best Asian Short Stories anthology
Panel discussion with Q&A

Contributors Suzanne Kamata and Wendy Jones Nakanishi will discuss The Best Asian Short Stories 2017 anthology and other projects from Kitaab, an independent Singapore publishing house. Kitaab Publisher Zafar Anjum will also talk via video about other anthologies in the works and publishing opportunities for Japan-based writers and translators in Singapore.

Suzanne Kamata is the author or editor of ten published books including, most recently Screaming Divas (Simon Pulse, 2014), The Mermaids of Lake Michigan (Wyatt-Mackenzie Publishing, 2017) and A Girls’ Guide to the Islands (Gemma Open Door, 2017). Her story “Mon-chan” was selected for inclusion in The Best Asian Short Stories 2017 anthology. She is an Associate Professor at Naruto College of Education.

Wendy Jones Nakanishi, an American by birth, has been a resident in Japan for the past 34 years, employed at a private Japanese university. She has published widely in her academic field of English literature and also writes creative non-fiction as well as short stories, with her work appearing in, for example, The Kyoto Journal, Transnational Literature, The Mom Egg, and Tales from a Small Planet. Under the pen name of Lea OHarra, she has recently published three crime fiction novels Imperfect Strangers (2015) Progeny (2016) and Lady First (2017) with Endeavour Press (UK). She has work forthcoming in The Best Asian Crime Fiction from Kitaab.

Tara McIlroy and Gregg McNabb
Publish or Perish One Story of How to Begin and Operate an Academic Journal
Short lecture with Q&A

The presenters describe the processes of starting up and running a relatively new academic journal. The Journal of Literature in Language Teaching was started in 2012 and is published twice-yearly. The two presenters describe the different aspects of journal publishing, including managing submissions, reviewing, editing, open source publication and publicity.

Tara McIlroy and Gregg McNabb will share with the audience their experiences of running the Journal of Literature in Language Teaching, and the knowledge gained through their involvement in the academic publishing process. The Journal was set up in 2012 to provide members of the JALT Literature in Language Teaching SIG with a quality periodical in which to publish articles featuring their research and views on using literature in the language classroom. Among the topics discussed will be the creation of submission guidelines attracting submissions managing the double-blind peer review process ways of providing constructive feedback to authors publishing options (opting for online open source over hard copy) and publicity outreach. We will also share the ongoing story of how the journal has received more interest from overseas readers and writers, leading to professional connections across continents. The talk will be of interest to attendees who find themselves involved in any stage of journal publishing on either side of the desk – including as submitting writer, as reviewer, as vetter or as overseeing editorial staff.

Tara McIlroy, M.A. PGCE, is an associate professor at the School of Global Japanese Studies, Meiji University in Tokyo. Her interests include literary reading, investigating uses of creative texts and world literature in the language classroom. She is a co-coordinator of the Literature in Language Teaching SIG in JALT.

Gregg McNabb, M.A., B.Ed., MATESOL Originally with concentrations in French literature and language, I moved to Japan where Ive taught university students in Kyoto and Shizuoka for over 25 years. My focus has been on reading skills and writing (reading) textbooks, but increasingly moving towards mentoring junior educators.

Tim Knight and Alan Meadows
Dispatches from the Frontline by Two Authors of University Textbooks Working in different ways with different styles of Japanese publishers
Short Lecture with Q&A

This presentation will compare and contrast the experiences of two authors of university textbooks working with different sized Japanese publishers. One author has largely worked alone with a small company. The other has worked with a co-author and a larger company. Tips and potential pit-falls will be revealed.

Textbook writing has often been a way for writers, and teachers who aspire to writing for an audience, to get published in Japan. The textbook market is becoming more of a challenge, though, as more teaching materials become available online, and fewer children being born means publishers are chasing a declining pool of sales. However, publishers are still successfully releasing a wide variety of textbooks in English for the university market.

This presentation will compare and contrast the experiences of two authors of university textbooks working with different sized Japanese publishers. One author has largely worked alone with a small company. The other has worked with a co-author and a larger company. They will explain the advantages and disadvantages of the two approaches. Various tips and potential pit-falls will be revealed about how much freedom there is, what extra materials need to be written, payment arrangements, etc.

Tim Knight is Associate Professor at Shirayuri University in Tokyo. He worked as a journalist in the UK before coming to Japan and gradually moving into university teaching. He has published several textbooks focusing on Britain and on media English, mostly with Tsurumi Shoten.

Alan Meadows is Associate Professor at Seitoku University in Chiba. Born in the UK, he has taught English in Japan for over twenty years. He has published two ESP textbooks through the Japanese publisher Nanun-do Co., Ltd Speaking of Nutrition and Speaking of Nursing.

Tom Baker
Anatomy of a Book Review
Short lecture with Q&A

Anatomy of a Book Review will explain how a book review is structured and what elements it should include. The key is to not merely indulge in one’s own reaction to a book, but to focus on being an informative and trustworthy guide for other readers.

A book review is like a book in miniature. It must grab the reader’s attention at the beginning, hold their interest through the middle, and leave them feeling satisfied to have spent their time on it by the end. But what goes into each of those parts and how do you put them together.

Anatomy of a Book Review will pin several reviews to the dissecting table to look at what parts they include and what function those parts serve. Vital organs include a catchy lead, facts about the author, and at least a sketch of the context in which the book appears.

Reviews of fiction and nonfiction will be compared. For any type of book, reviewers, of course, want to express their opinions. This presentation will focus on doing so in a way that fulfills the reviewer’s mission to be a concretely helpful guide for other readers.

Tom Baker has written and published hundreds of book reviews over the past 20 years. He edited the Books page of The Daily Yomiuri, which is now The Japan News, where he edits the Bound to Please column. He was the ACCJ Journals book columnist for two years.

Wendy Jones Nakanishi
Why Writers Write a Short Overview
Short lecture with Q&A

I will provide a short overview of the motivations writers express or won’t admit to for writing. Writing is a lonely, difficult enterprise rarely awarded by fame or financial gain. I will look at a few representative authors mostly ones from America and Britain from the seventeenth up to the twenty-first century.

Writers are fond of repeating Samuel Johnson’s remark that No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money, a sentiment he would elaborate by saying he wrote not for love or desire of fame but for want of money, which is the only motive to writing that I know of. The irony is that these assertions are implicitly disproved by their context. They appear in Boswell’s Life of Johnson, a work Boswell began at the age of twenty-two, upon first meeting Johnson in London when he would begin noting down their conversations in journals that would later serve as the basis for what has been described as the greatest biography of all time. What motivates writers Arguably Boswell first began noting down dialogue and anecdotes because he recognized Johnson’s greatness and wanted it recorded for posterity. That is one reason for putting pen to paper. Earlier writers such as Rochester were proud of their amateur status as authors, producing works as jeux desprit. Others, like Dryden or Swift, wrote works intended to serve a political cause. Romantic poets would assert they write as a form of self-expression other writers of different ages, that literature offers a form of consolation to themselves and to their readers. This survey of writer’s intentions is intended to remind us of why we write and how our motivation probably influences the kind of work we do.

Wendy Jones Nakanishi, an American by birth, has been resident in Japan for the past 34 years, employed at a private Japanese university. She has published widely in her academic field of English literature and also writes creative non-fiction as well as short stories, with her work appearing in, for example, The Kyoto Journal, Transnational Literature, The Mom Egg, and Tales from a Small Planet. Under the pen name of Lea OHarra, she has recently published three crime fiction novels Imperfect Strangers (2015) Progeny (2016) and Lady First (2017) with Endeavour Press (UK).

Yolanda Yu Miaomiao
A Tender Giant Inside Our Heart – Fairytales in the City
Writing workshop

Cities are the most unlikely places for fairy tales, and yet can be the best places for that. Fairy tales are not exclusively for children, they can be a source of happiness and healing for adults living in the modern society. Yu will share her observation and well as techniques to create fairy tales with a setting in day-to-day life.

What do Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Rene Margritte, and Hayao Miyazaki have in common Yolanda Yus short story A Giant’s three wishes was featured at the Singapore Writers Festival 2015. In her workshop she will share her observation in the evolution of fairy tale genre across cultures and examine the core elements of fairy tales settings and inner logic, characters, and morale (or lack of it). You will also have an opportunity to create your own fairy tale from day-to-day life. Hope you will enjoy the mystical journey.

Yolanda Yu, poet and novelist, she has received multiple literature awards, including Singapore Tertiary Chinese Literature Award, Golden Point Award 2017 and 2015. Her work has been published in anthologies, and magazine newspapers such as New York Times Travel Magazine, Guangxi Literature Magazine in China and Singapore Lianhezaobao.

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