Naoko Fujimoto: Reprise

Naoko’s graphic poems kept appearing in my facebook newsfeed and I got curious about what was happening over there in her world since our last interview (which took place four years ago…has it really been that long?!). Here is an up-to-date interview with graphic poet Naoko Fujimoto. You can find more of her work on her blog and instagram account: @graphic.poetry.trans.sensory.

What do you write? 

I am currently translating my poems into graphic poems. My project is called Graphic Poetry = Trans. Sensory. My entire collection will be published by Tupelo Press in the near future under the title “Glyph: Graphic Poetry = Trans. Sensory”. I am currently finishing up some of my works. My progress can be seen in my Homepage, Blog, or Instagram.

Recently, I published five graphic poems in Tupelo Quarterly Issue 13. 

Can you share a little about your project process? Continue reading


Underrated Grasslands

IIMG_6773‘m pleased to share with you my poem “Prairie” published in The Other Journal today, but which I started just after I heard Wendell Berry and Wes Jackson speak at IU, more than four years ago. And I’m still learning about the wonders of the grasslands and savanna ecosystems. Did you know that the grasslands is one of the only ecosystems that does not have a national park associated with it the U.S.? National Parks favor great changes in altitude (think Yosemite Valley to the peak of Half Dome). Though the prairie be humble, this rich ecosystem is still worth appreciating and thanking for its bounty. There are a few swatches left. Here are two I recently heard about: a patch in a st. louis cemetery and a restoration project in Iowa, with bison!

Two Feet In

Last post I spoke about the prospect of internships. It seems internships are infinitely easier to get interviews for than jobs. It turns out nonprofits doing good in the world are looking for qualified and excited free labor. I am now interning at two nonprofits aimed at bettering the lives of children. At Open Books, I will be a site coordinator for a reading buddies program at an elementary school, combating the literacy crisis in Chicago, one book, one buddy at time. The other internship is with Starlight Foundation, which is an org that aims to improve the quality of life for sick and hospital-bound children. At this org, I will be a researcher and grant writer. All the while, still writing test prep cirriculum to help pay the bills. Check out my blog post at Open Books.

So if you are in the Chicago area, and you want to volunteer to read or write creatively with students in elementary or high school, OR if you work for a corporation that looking to give money away to good causes: let me know!!

Jacarandas and JCL

Before embarking on my journey to midwest and MFAs, I lived with a good friend, JCL. One night she asked me to write a poem about jacarandas (amazing trees that bloom lavish periwinkle sticky) and I did. When I got to MFA school, I was nervously turned it in for my first workshop. Since then it has changed here, there, and back again. The poem, left in a drawer for many months,  was rediscovered and reburied. It came out from hiding long enough to find residence in a small Canadian lit journal whose clean layout caught my eye. Poems like people are always on the move. Currently, JCL is living in South Africa, I’m in Chicago and the poem is home in Canada. [Update: the Canadian Magazine is now defunct, and the poem lives here]

Jacarandas Bloom
for Jen Chi Lee

On 8th Street,
where the legless & drug-addicted

mumble pleading eyes
for the change in your pocket.

On Raymond Avenue,
where a teen shotandkilled

sparked retaliation gunfire & prayer,
we fast-forward to exhale:

gnarled branches set loose a purple-blue.
The sidewalk luminous with

this syrup, this bubble wrap. A water-
fall clipped to the trees,

who have not
forgotten it is Spring—

wring us out,
old dishrags, cleaned.

Prayer Flags

I was fortunate enough to come into contact with talented artist Gatis when I brought in Fine Art students to make broadsides for a poetry reading Indiana Review held last year.  He created a broadside for a Curtis Bauer poem.  After the event Gatis and I met up for coffee; I shared some of my poems with him and he sketched out ideas.

Later I visited the printing press, where artist and machines were buzzing away. It was fascinating to see the printing press at work. There is something more permanent about a poem when its words have hand set in metal typeface, and thin sheets of rice paper are lined up and ready to be hand-cranked through the press.

Gatis’ other work can be found at his website: