This last weekend I joined the Japan Writers Conference at Tokushima University. An annual event, about a hundred educators, journalists, poets, writers, and hangers-on like myself gather at a host university and spend two days giving and participating in presentations, panels, workshops, and readings. It all started on Friday night with a dinner party at a local brewery, the Awa Brewery, which had the best beer on tap that I think I’ve ever had in JP.
About a third were poetry related. This is not my thing. But I’m really glad I was exposed to it. I like interesting turns of phrase. I suppose I didn’t recognize that going into it, but I came out understanding it. I’m drawn to prose-like poetry, or poetic prose. There was a poetry reading at dinner on Saturday, and the one I liked the best was the poetry slam-like reading.
Among the many great presentations was the excellent Susan Spann, author of a series of Japanese historically based detective stories. Hers was perhaps the most practical advise, and the most engaging presentation. Writing is a process, get it on the page, ensure you haven’t broken the rules of your genre, then rework it again and again till it’s done. Others I enjoyed were discussions on violence in fiction and plotting short stories.
I came away with a couple of short story ideas, and plenty of inspiration for the coming month of NaNoWriMo.