Get Your Write On: The Asian American Poetry and Writing Group And The Japanese American National Museum

Thursday, September 04, 2008

So I got word about some great writing workshops that will be going on at the Japanese American National Museum in collaboration with the Asian American Poetry and Writing group, and wanted to post up the information I got sent about it (thanks to Koji who'll also be teaching one of the classes):

An exciting collaboration in the heart of Los Angeles. Award-winning writers. A world class museum.

This Fall 2008 Asian American Poetry and Writing (AAPW) and the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) are proud and excited to offer community-based creative writing workshops for aspiring and emerging writers. Our goal is to create affordable and culturally sensitive classes that allows writers the space to explore craft and theme in their work.

When: October 4, 2008 - November 8, 2008
(Saturday mornings and afternoons)

Where: The Japanese American National Museum
Little Tokyo, near downtown Los Angeles

Cost: $150 for six sessions. $125 for JANM members
(Minimum 5 participants, maximum 12).


1. Stories Make us Real (1pm - 3pm)
Introduction to Fiction with Noel Alumit

In this introductory class, we will read stories and then write our own. What are the elements of narrative? How do we utilize character, point of view, dialogue, plot, setting and tone? Through close reading and discussion, we will examine how others have created powerful fiction. We'll also workshop our own writing, helping each other to dig deeper and unearth the core of our stories and in the process--ourselves.

Noel Alumit's first novel "Letters to Montgomery Clift," has received many awards including the Stonewall Book Award (American Library Association), Violet Quill Award (Insight Out Books), the Global Filipino Literary Award (Our Own Voice), and the Gold Seal (ForeWord Magazine). He has also been nominated for the PEN Center USA West Literary award, the Lambda Literary Award, and the Asian American Literary Award. His second novel "Talking o the Moon" was published in 2007 and went on to become a Los Angeles Times Bestseller. He also teaches for UCLA Extension. He blogs at

2. The World is a Poem (11am - 1pm)
Introduction to Poetry with Neil Aitken

There are moments in our lives that transform us or change the way we view the world around us. Something we see or feel moves us beyond where we've been. Often it's love or loss, the stories of how we got here or where we are going, or maybe just the way that something we've always taken as ordinary reveals itself as extraordinary or beautiful. What makes a poem a poem? How do we set down our thoughts and emotions in a more powerful way? This course will cover essential poetcraft including: imagery and figurative language, rhythm and sound, line and form, and lyric and narrative styles. Some discussion of poetry journals and publishing will also be provided.

Neil Aitken is the author of The Lost Country of Sight which won the 2007 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry and is due out from Anhinga Press in November 2008. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from UC Riverside and is currently pursuing a PhD in Literature & Creative Writing at USC. More information about Neil can be found on his website:

3. Claiming Your Voice (11am - 1pm)
A memoir/personal writing class with Naomi Hirahara

Have you always wanted to write, but are not sure quite how to put your thoughts and experiences on paper? How do you find your written "voice" and how do you nurture and sustain it? Instruction will include writing exercises that allow students to take creative risks in a safe and encouraging environment. Participants will learn how to remove obstacles that keep them from being truly free in their writing. Basic craft skills will also be covered.

* Please note: Naomi's class will run from Oct 4 - Nov 15 with Oct 25 off

Award-winning writer and former Rafu Shimpo editor Naomi Hirahara is a Los Angeles literary treasure. She is the author of the Edgar Award-winning Mas Arai mystery series, which includes Summer of the Big Bachi, Gasa-Gasa Girl, and Snakeskin Shamisen.

4. Lights, Camera, Write (11am - 1pm)
Introduction to Screenwriting with Koji Steven Sakai

For the cinephile who has the next great American Film within them, this six-week course will introduce you to the craft of screenwriting, where students will focus on story structure, scene development and dialogue. From plot-driven action to independent drama, students will write and workshop short scenes, basic outlines and short treatments.

Koji Steven Sakai is a graduate from USC's Masters of Professional Writing program. He co-wrote, Haunted Highway, which was directed by Junichi Suzuki and distributed by Lions Gate DVD. He has held several fellowships, starting with the most recent, which include: Film Independent's Project: Involve (2007), Visual Communication's Armed With a Camera (2006), and Screenwriting Expo 4 New Visions Fellowship award (2005). When he isnt' fighting crime or making movies, he is the Manager of Pubilc Programs at the Japanese American National Museum.

For more information and to enroll online, go to Asian American Poetry and Writing’s home page

Here's also the contact info for the JANM:

Japanese American National Museum
369 East First Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012