Click below to see some great video footage of the reading. Video by Liz Martinez.My Book Launch Party for my new, speculative novel THE HOPE STORE was a smash, hosted by Women & Children First bookstore. There were over 50attendees. Sold 35 books. I read short excerpts from the novel with piano music as underscoring. Here is some of the Q&A. https://youtu.be/GLQ9hwzcvPg
Above are links to CROSSING WITH THE LIGHT which is my poetry book. This book includes "In Response to Executive Order 9066," one of the most anthologized poems on the internment camps for Japanese Americans. Many of these poems are regularly reprinted in textbooks and anthologies.
THE HOPE STORE, my new magic realist/science fiction novel.I was named an "Author to Watch" by the Best Indie Book Awards in 2017. This book is about the first store in the world to sell hope over the counter, the people who created the store, and the customers who were transformed by it. It's also about the controversies that follow.
THE PROSPECT OF MY ARRIVAL is my debut sci-fi novel which was a finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest (and is also represented by Affirmative Entertainment for possible movie deals).
I've gotten some requests for a bio from students writing about my work. So here's my life in snapshot. I'll try to keep it short and sweet but we writers tend to like words.
I was born and raised and continue to live in Chicago. I started writing poems in first grade because I found it too hard to write compositions. My brother Clyde Okita is a photographer. My late, great parents include Patsy Takeyo Okita and Fred Yoshio Okita. Mom was the unflappable optimist & queen of resilience, and Dad was the armchair philosopher & would-be anthropologist. They were both interned in camps during the war. Going out to the movies with my family with always a big treat. I remember once as a kid going to see "Doctor Zhivago" which was very, very long. I recall going out to the lobby to get candy and sit by a decorative water fountain for a while.
Some of the demons in my life revolve around the various anxieties and moodswings that have haunted me. I've been greatly helped by Buddhist chanting, an openness to pharmacology and alternative healing modalities including therapeutic cuddling. And I've been blessed to have a good circle of friends and colleagues. The friends have been there when romantic love was not.
After a love-hate relationship with writing, I now like it quite a lot. I have much more confidence in choosing which topics to explore. I like to write about the beauty and brutality of life as I and others have experienced it. I look for the funny things because the sad things will turn up sooner or later. Poetry was my first love and will forever color what I write and how I see the world.
I believe everything happens for a reason. When I became Buddhist, I learned that blaming people and things for my unhappiness was stupid because it never made anything better. I only have control over changing myself. If I change, my shadow must also change, and then maybe the world too.
Some novels I've loved include: The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker, Incendiary by Chris Cleave, Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, and various works by Haruki Murakami, J.D. Salinger and Etgar Keret. Poets I've loved include: Carolyn Forche, Naomi Nye, Li-Young Lee, Larry Levis, Adrienne Rich.
Favorite movies: Anomalisa, Loving Vincent, Silver Linings Playbook, Safe, A Single Man, Atonement, Bridesmaids, Brokeback Mountain, Eternal Sunshine, The Big Sick, 50/50, Steven King's It, Sixth Sense, The Hours, Trainwreck, Being John Malkovich.
MEN WHO CUDDLE
On March 31, 2018 -- we had one of the largest turnouts for our meetup group MEN CUDDLING MEN. There were 17 attendees with many first-timers and many who were thirty-something. I love to see we are drawing younger crowds too lately. It's a gay consciousness raising. A great time was had by all. Photo below by Matt Koziel. https://www.meetup.com/Men-Cuddling-Men
Work-in-progress. BEFORE I DISAPPEAR.
In this novel, I get to confront my feelings about the possibility
of reincarnation, and my hope for an end to the gun violence epidemic.
Frank Ikura doesn't get out much since his soulmate was shot to death on their balcony.
And his belief systems are fiercely challenged when he comes face-to-face with a man claiming to be the reincarnation of his dead lover. For vetting purposes, he enlists the help of a shaman who specializes in soul retrievals, soul departures, reincarnation walk-ins, and cuddle therapy.
In his hometown of Chicago, life goes on under a spray of bullets.
Who knew that love and death and gun control were so complicated?