What are you working on right now, Sally Ito?

Right now, I’m writer-in-residence at the University of Manitoba’s Centre for Creative Writing and Oral Culture. It’s a great gig, designed to help you write and help other writers write, and is a switch for me from the creative writing teaching I do regularly in the academic year at the Canadian Mennonite University. The pleasure for me in this position is having access to the University’s vast resources including their libraries, their faculty, their state-of-the-art technology and yes, their parking lot. I can’t stress to you how important the free parking is.

What am I writing now? Well, as usual, I have my fingers in several different pots of honey, to use a Winnie-the-Pooh metaphor. I’ve been working steadily on a family history which has involved writing and translating work. I spent the last few years translating my late grandfather, Toshiro Saito’s memoir, with the help of various family members and others, and have been publishing sections of it on such on-line journals as The Winnipeg Review, The Tyee and the print journal, The Malahat Review. I’d like to publish the memoir someday and am shopping it around to publishers. Unfortunately, small presses in Canada that are government funded must adhere to a policy whereby a book must be of 50% Canadian creator content and I’ve been told by some publishers that translations do not qualify. As the Canadian translator of this document, I find this policy egregiously colonial and limiting, and welcome any publisher who might challenge it by being the first to offer me a contract!

I write poems whenever the fancy strikes me, and it still does, so I always have a few kicking around that I like to work on or revise as I have time. Sometimes, a short story insinuates itself into the mix, and I’ve started a couple just recently. Where they will go, I have no idea. This summer, I went back to working on an old novel about a Canadian woman who goes to Japan to study paper-making, and have suddenly found myself re-immersed in the wonderful world of Japanese craft. And then I write blog, so to speak. For a few years as a paid blog contributor to the multicultural childrens’ literature blog and website, PaperTigers, I enjoyed writing about what I love – that is, about books, and it’s kind of hard to shake the habit. Well known dance choreographer, Twyla Tharp, has a book out called The Creative Habit where she talks about creativity being a habit that one must cultivate and integrate into one’s daily life. Blogging is my creative habit. I enjoy the diary-like way one can play with words, thoughts and ideas in the brief bubble of text as it were, that constitutes the blog post. I love to write posts and love to read them, too. Having said that, you might check out my new blog gig at the CCWOC blog: Sally Blogs the University.

Sally Ito is a poet and fiction writer. She was born in Taber, Alberta, and currently lives in Winnipeg. She has published three books of poetry, Frogs in the Rain Barrel, A Season of Mercy, and Alert to Glory, as well as a collection of short stories called Floating Shore. Ito has also studied in Japan, and has done translations of contemporary Japanese poetry. She teaches creative writing in Winnipeg and is a former blog contributor to the multicultural children’s literature blog and website, PaperTigers.

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