SBP Blog

Defying the Western Narrative — Interview with Janet Pocorobba for DIY MFA

Michael Palmer - Thursday, April 11, 2019

Janet Pocorobba, author of the incredible new memoir The Fourth String speaks with DIY MFA on her new book as well as how to defy writing structures both in the classroom and on the page.


Janet is a former features writer and editor at Metropolis magazine in Tokyo, whose memoirs, essays and reviews have appeared in many notable publications such as The Rumpus, The Writer, and Kyoto Journal.

She is the author of the memoir, The Fourth String: A Memoir of Sensei and Me, which is now available. In the memoir Janet shows the relationship between her and her sensei in the initial years of her apprenticeship learning to play the shamisen, a three-stringed Japanese instrument.


In this episode:

  • Presenting the self in relation to others in a memoir.
  • How training in music gives you structure and form for your writing.
  • The role absence plays in a narrative.
  • Using the practice method to grow your craft.
  • The relationship between the word mind and the content mind.


Listen Here


Like our blog? Please share it!


Subscribe to the SBP Mailing List

New Releases

Amy’s Guide to Best Behavior in Japan

Going to Japan? This unfussy modern guide guarantees you keep it polite and get it right!

China Smart

Essential essays on all things Chinese that inform and entertain travelers, students, and anyone working or living in China

Forty-Seven Samurai

One of the most spectacular vendettas ever: the history and haiku behind the mass-suicide featured in the 2013 film 47 Ronin

Oh, Tama!

A deeply eccentric novel about lives and connections—and a cat of course—in 1980s Tokyo: witty, offbeat, and strangely profound.

Tag Cloud

new release association of jewish libraries nhk forty seven samurai buddhist priest IBPA alan brill how to travel in japan memoir china history book reading buddhist japan travel etiquette asia pacific rim review of books event symbol learning shamisen Christianity in Japan gallery awa a mejiro novel podcast kyoto journal damian flanagan miyazaki literary review WWII Art/Design amys guide to bes tbehavior in japan studio ghibli danica davidson expat in japan Culture Anime/Manga/Comics japanese music performance japanese business japan behavior japan manners internment tomoko aoyama learning instruments in japan doris bargen simba frederik schodt Korea seppuku religion yukio mishima japanese translation japan today international book award Asian Studies japan times koto alan moore hiroaki sato japanese craft understandind china through comics henry kiyama japanese customs the lion king zen monk donald keene wanderlust center of east asian studies monks wife jing liu Children's Books the fourth string a memoir of sensei and me paul mccarthy expert a shameful life lucille cara UCLA Japanese holidays anime death learning in japan sensei bushido how to order in japan nara poet stone bridge press japan guide Chinese New Year travel literature drinking in japan china guide catcher in the rye awards ibpa publishing university gratitude in japan classic literature mark gibeau osamau tezuka Children's Literature Coming of Age Day osamu dazai kyodo news author signing comic history amys guide to best behavior in japan koun travel Japan criterion china smart dazai award will eisner suicide haiku osaka the silver spoon tea garden classic japanese literature japanese classic the millions japanese to english World War Two namethetranslator student teacher tracy franz journal monk janet pocrobba the buddhist swastika japanese instruments non-fiction writing hong kong memior travel to japan society japanese instrument illustration year of zen japanese books in english eastern and western philosophy astrology pulitzer prize 1960's Japan Second World War gaijin pot summer vacation lesley university anne prescott foreword reviews zen monk wife a memoir of sensei and me best behavior in japan the hidden writer author tour visitor chinese literature Chinese Astrology peace otakuusa dark horse PEN AWARD jun hazuki ancient symbols literary prize hitler new york publicity memoir writing Japanese art tea swastika china vacation the inland sea holden caufield wife photography holocaust finalist Travel benjamin franklin award foreigner in japan shamisen literature keanu reeves chinese japan book review 15 years at studio ghibli bookstore film stone bridge cafe frank beyer Olympics buddhist swastika shamisen performance world literature today pottery japanese bath Japan japan memoir japan trip 1960s Korea china book World War II american shamisen no longer human Alexandra Johnson a memoir nova scotia eating in japan new york events foreword indies japanese drunk budhist swastika education about asia four immigrants washington dc japan custom Basho's Narrow Road Poetry frederik green japanese travel evil graphic novels green tea author event do it right and be polite japanese cutlure huffington post traditional japanese instrumenet book blurb t.k. nakagaki behavior zazen the fourth string sharing a house with the never ending man tokyo william f sibley books classic poetry Japanese aesthetics haibun buddhism japan restaurant ripe mangoes book sensei and me Japanese literature The Colorado Review forest gander buddhist symbols japanese books journal of a zen monk's wife japanese book japan ravel takuma sminkey book tour book talk VIZ black jack forewrod reviews indies chapters author peace symbol shun medoruma eli lieberman announcement journal of a zen monks wife in japan Basho purification japanese why we write podcast AAS reviews in the woods of memory History osamu tezuka 47 samurai ningen shikkaku musical hippocampus magazine poetry of consciousness nazi china travel traditional japanese music studying in japan manji the asian review of books japan etiquette my year of dirt and water huffpost book signing kotaku how to Year of the Dog asian review of books luke patitsas kimba the white lion etiquette Spirituality comics gaijin xu xu janet pocorbba blurb japanese culture Shoah Spring Festival interfaith kyoto japanese etiquette ritual oh tama book reviews japan travel guide steve heller nichi bei weekly, naomi hirarahara ex pat literature jungle emperor hiaku min kahng trip japan visitor manga biography living in japan astro boy tk nakagaki japan food Chinese culture Nikolas Bunton what do in japan verticle traditional japanese instrument steve alpert japan culture hitler symbol journal' monks wife disney 2020 Olympics Interview japan travel new books brad hawley expat diymfa kris kosaka author talk hitlers cross gaijinpot benjamin franklin awards lions roar ancient symbol book review bowing in japan rebecca otowa walt disney 2019 rachel manley giajin Translation japanese history japan vacation juddhism welton gaddy japan books japanese people leonard koren traditional bird talk and other stories memoir, tracy franz, zen monk, buddhist book award translators michael emmerich mentorship in japan tourist Korea photography Chiune Sugihara fred schodt travel manners mieko kanai fantasy literature 47 ronin Okinawan literature zen miswest book review shaimsen publishing China diary suehiro maruo hate janet pocorobba amy chavez dirt and water kinokuniya event china where igo hooked cross politics and prose Christianity jared cook monk wife diy mfa Chinese history journal of a zen monk chinese comics fiction donald richie Language memoir in japan japan book zen monks wife' foreword indies award Tokyo Olympics guide Ukiyo-e manners larry herzberg kansuke naka book hoarding review matcha 20th century chinese literature the japan times the japan society state of belief manga zen monk in japan china What You Don’t Know, What You Need to Know— A Past & Present Guide to History, Culture, Society, Language travel etiquette book publicity 4k japanese manners classic tricycle magazine forty seven ronin university of chicago polite controversy