Writer, Poet & Performance Artist
Writer, Poet & Performance Artist
David Mura is a poet, creative nonfiction writer, fiction writer, critic, playwright and performance artist. A Sansei or third generation Japanese American, Mura has written two memoirs: Turning Japanese: Memoirs of a Sansei (Grove-Atlantic), which won a 1991 Josephine Miles Book Award from the Oakland PEN and was listed in the New York Times Notable Books of Year, and Where the Body Meets Memory: An Odyssey of Race, Sexuality and Identity (1996, Anchor/Random). His novel Famous Suicides of the Japanese Empire (2008, Coffee House Press) was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award, the John Gardner Fiction Prize and Virginia Commonwealth University Cabell First Novelist Award. Mura most recently published his new book on creative writing titled, A Stranger's Journey: Race, Identity & Narrative Craft in Writing (U. of Georgia Press).
How We Talk (Or Don’t Talk) About Race: Identity in a Changing America
How do children learn about their racial identity and their relationship to others of different races? How does a denial of the realities of race hinder the educational process and students’ ability to understand themselves and each other?
The first half of my talk addresses these and other questions from an autobiographical perspective It is a frank and honest examination of my own struggles with identity and race, and my own discoveries of internal and external racism. Interspersed through the talk are excerpts from my writings—memoir, poetry, performance—which help dramatically illustrate the stages of my own journey.
In the second half I explore the ways in which our society is in denial about race and suggest we need a more complex and open way of speaking about this issue. I also address a frequently asked question: As a single individual what can I do in addressing the problems of race? What is my task?
Leadership: The Three Act Play & Limitations of the Good Student
Being a leader or change agent, especially in the field of diversity, can often be a difficult journey. The process of leadership often resembles the classic three act play. In particular, there is the crisis of faith that inevitably occurs in the second act, when the hero wonders if she can complete her task and doubts both her abilities and the nature of the task. At such moments, the hero must find not only the will to continue, but must undergo a reenvisioning of herself and her relationship to the task.
The workshop will also explore the differences between the good student and the creative individual. These differences point to both a limitation in our educational system and in our approaches to the task of leadership.
Finally, I will suggest ways in which the arts, in particular my specialty creative writing, can be used as a tool for learning, leadership, and exploring the issues of diversity.
Unleashing the Unconscious: The Age of Creativity
This talk starts with the premise that digital age is changing our notions of human potential, of the human spirit, opening up new possibilities of politics and social organization, and bringing about changes in the structures of thought through which we perceive the world. In short, we are living in the Age of Creativity. The question is how are leaders and institutions going to unleash the creativity of their workers, students or constituents? How are we going to prepare for a future whose very nature will be of increasingly change, destruction and creation?
To fully prepare and adapt to such a future, we need to change our notions of how we educate and train people. We need to understand that creativity comes out of a very different mindset than that of the usual methods of management or bureaucracy. We need to look to revolutionaries in the arts and sciences for models and examples. We need see how such revolutionaries tap into the unconscious and reverse conventional notions of success and failure. We need to understand that creativity often comes out of what some may consider the weirder or even the more aberrant areas of our psyche and yet, paradoxically, is part of the psyche’s struggle to achieve a more complex and mature whole. In other words, how the Age of Creativity calls all of us to develop more fully our human potential.
"How wonderful it was to have you lead us in exploring our hearts and minds together at the January Deeper Change Forum. It was an amazing day! Thank you. I particularly appreciated how much you shared from your personal life and the parallels to the work that we must do on societal levels. I can’t imagine a more powerful example than the life and learning that you shared so generously."