A Blog of Seattle Arts & Lectures

Five Questions with Amy Hirayama

In a new initiative at Writers in the Schools, our WITS writer corps is being joined by two apprentices, Amy Hirayama and Brian Dang, who will further their K-12 creative writing education skills with direct experiences in WITS classrooms. Amy and Brian will additionally be working as WITS Writers-in-Residence this school year—Amy at Evergreen High School and Brian at Hamilton International Middle School!

Get to know Amy below! Amy uses writing as a way to explore her mixed-race Hapa identity, imagine spaces of belonging for herself, and connect across difference. Amy is a UW Bothell Creative Writing & Poetics M.F.A. candidate who is currently working on her thesis. She is also a former middle school teacher who worked in South Seattle for seven years and a 2021-2022 Imagining America PAGE Fellow. Her poetry can be found in the fall/winter 2021 issue of Strait Up magazine, as well as the forthcoming chapbook Hariboetry.

What’s your ideal Sunday?

My ideal Sunday contains a combination of the following:

  • Waking up to my internal alarm clock.
  • Going for a walk in Hamlin Park, then immediately writing when I get home.
  • Coffee.
  • A hot breakfast with the perfect balance of savory and sweet elements.
  • A living room dance party with my daughters.
  • Cooking a Japanese comfort food meal (curry udon and omurice are two of my current favorites).
  • Reading uninterrupted until sated.

What’s on your desk?

My grandfather built my desk, and I love feeling that connection to him when I write, even though he passed away several years ago. The desk has two bookshelves, four drawers, and four slots for organizing papers. It is stuffed with too many layers of my writing life to list every item.

A few notable objects include:

  • My MLA Handbook from high school.
  • Several ceramic bowls and vases filled with pens, paper clips, unlabeled USB drives,
  • Sharpies and other stationery miscellanea. I made the bowls in a ceramics class at Shoreline Community College.
  • A pincushion shaped like a blue turtle with a tiny red fascinator hat that belonged to my grandmother.
  • An unopened set of Pilot Hi-Tec-C 0.3 needle tip black pens.
  • Basil and lavender roll-on Head Aide essential oil.
  • Disco ball glitter nail polish.
  • A very thick coaster knitted from rainbow yarn that makes my coffee mug wobble, which my four-year-old daughter made for my birthday.

Who are your north stars of writing?

Ruth Ozeki, Kazuo Ishiguro and Lee Tonouchi.

Would you like to tell us about your writing life? What projects are you working on?

I see my writing life as divided into two parts—my brain writing and my actual writing. During the day, I am rarely able to sit and write, but I can find little interstitial moments to imagine. Every day is uncertain—will I remember any of those great ideas by the time my daughters are asleep and I can put them down on paper?

I like to give myself prompts and parameters for new projects. I recently completed a series of poems where each piece was inspired by the name of a Haribo gummy candy. I have a small writing group with a couple of friends and we take turns giving each other prompts to play with. I am in love with Edward Hirsch’s A Poet’s Glossary, and I like picking a random page and writing something based on that page. (The ballade supreme is tough!)

One of the projects I’m most excited about is a small business I’m starting with three friends and former public school teachers. It is a business designed to support educators through workshops and retreats where we offer the space for them to flex their creativity, rest, reflect and connect to other educators. I want my writing to be a tool for positive change and this project gives me the opportunity to use it in a way that is meaningful to me.

What’s your hidden talent?

I know all the lyrics to the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Jesus Christ Superstar.

Thank you, Amy!

Posted in Writers in the Schools