Tamai Kobayashi was born in Japan and raised in Canada. She has lived in Calgary and Toronto, and is the author of Exile and the Heart and Quixotic Erotic. Her first novel, Prairie Ostrich, was recently published by Goose Lane Editions. Today she stops by the blog to acknowledge what’s gone unacknowledged.
Acknowledgements are the most curious things. Of my own, (in my novel, Prairie Ostrich), I am drawn to the omissions. Prairie Ostrich is about growing up in rural southern Alberta in the 70s. Here are my alternate, subtextual acknowledgements:
Because Joy Kogawa was the first big Japanese-Canadian novelist who wrote about Japanese-Canadian experiences.
Chorus of Mushrooms
Because Hiromi Goto wrote the novel about growing up Japanese-Canadian on the prairies.
Because Hisaye Yamamoto’s short stories shaped my own.
Green Grass, Running Water
Because Thomas King reminds me I am a settler, even when he makes me laugh so hard my belly aches and my heart breaks.
Twenty-One Love Poems
Because Adrienne Rich was one of the poets I read after I came out but years before I was a fifty-yard dyke.
Kelly in Charlie’s Angels
Because she was the one with the traumatic childhood.
Because Go Tell It on the Mountain is the closest thing that will ever let me touch god, or spirit, or the great whatever.
John Berger’s essays
Because he insists.
Because Nina Simone.
Because Cat People, and not because it was directed by Jacques Tourneur. I saw it during Saturday Night at the Movies with Elwy Yost.
Crystal Blue Persuasion
Because I was a kid during the seventies and I had no idea what the song was about. And it didn’t matter.
New Mutants comics
Because they had a First Nations character.
Because science was cool even if you didn’t understand it – yet.
I do not know where inspiration comes from. I chase after creativity, try to pin it to the page. I look for the owls in Hieronymus Bosch’s painting, The Garden of Earthly Delights. I eat too much chocolate and drink too much coffee. I Netflix. These are distractions, the furthest things from acknowledgements. Sometimes creativity, the work, does not take the straight road. The way twists, the road turns. Sometimes we must catch ourselves unawares.
So if you write, be forgiving. Take it all in. Crystal Blue Persuasion.
Tamai Kobayashi visits the Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, July 9, 2014 — full of beans Coffee House & Roastery, 1348 Dundas St. W., Toronto (7pm, PWYC) — along with S. Bear Bergman, Kirk DeMatas, and Dorianne Emmerton. Come early, too (6:30) for a special talk by literary agent Monica Pacheco, entitled “Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Literary Agents *But Were Afraid to Ask”!
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