Author of Turning Japanese, Where The Body Meets Memory,
The Colors of Desire, After We Lost Our Way,
and Angels for the Burning


David Mura is a poet, creative nonfiction writer, critic, playwright and performance artist. A Sansei or third generation Japanese American, Mura has written two memoirs: Turning Japanese: Memoirs of a Sansei (Anchor-Random), 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).

Mura's second book of poetry The Colors of Desire (1995, Anchor), won the Carl Sandburg Literary Award from the Friends of the Chicago Public Library. His first, After We Lost Our Way (Carnegie Mellon U. Press), won the 1989 National Poetry Series Contest. He has also written the chapbook, A Male Grief: Notes on Pornography & Addiction (Milkweed Editions). His book of critical essays, Song for Uncle Tom, Tonto & Mr. Moto: Poetry & Identity, was published by the U. of Michigan Press in its Poets on Poetry series in 2002. His third book of poetry, Angels for the Burning, was published by Boa Editions Ltd. in 2004.

Along with African American writer Alexs Pate, Mura has created and performs a multi-media performance piece, Secret Colors, about their lives as men of color and Asian American-African American relations. This piece premiered for the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (1994) and has been presented at various venues throughout the country. A film adaptation of this piece, Slowly, This, was broadcast in the PBS series ALIVE TV in July/August 1995. Mura has also been featured on the Bill Moyers PBS series, The Language of Life.

Mura's other performance pieces and plays include, "Relocations: Images from a Sansei" (1990), "Silence & Desire" (1994) and "After Hours" (1995; in collaboration with pianist Jon Jang and actor Kelvin Han Yee). Mura's stage adaptation of Li-Young Lee's memoir, "The Winged Seed," premiered at Pangea World Theater in Oct. 1997. His play "Internment Voices," co-written with Esther Suzuki, received a CLPEF grant and premiered with Theater Mu in June, 1998.

Among his awards, Mura has received a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writers' Award, a US/Japan Creative Artist Fellowship, two NEA Literature Fellowships, two Bush Foundation Fellowships, four Loft-McKnight Awards, several Minnesota State Arts Board grants, and a Discovery/The Nation Award.

Mura has a B.A. from Grinnell College and an MFA in creative writing from Vermont College. He has taught at the University of Minnesota, St. Olaf College, the Loft, Hamline U., the U. of Oregon and the Voices of the Nation Association writers' conference. He co-founded the Asian American Renaissance, an Asian American arts organization and served as its artistic director. He teaches at Hamline University, VONA (Voices of the Nation Association), and the Stonecoast MFA program.

Mura lives in Minneapolis with his wife, Dr. Susan Sencer, and three children, Samantha (15), Nikko (11) and Tomo (9).


"Slowly, This"--written & featuring David Mura & Alexs Pate; dir. by Arthur Jafa; produced by the PBS Series ALIVE TV.

"Relocations"--written and performed by David Mura; dir. by Mark Tang (four selections from the performance piece, Relocations: Images from a Sansei).

Selected articles on race & multiculturalism:

"Minnesota: Through One Poet's Eyes," in These United States: Original Essays by Leading American Writers on their State Within the Union, ed. John Leonard (Thunder's Mouth Press/Nation Books, 2003).

"Secret Colors" in Some of My Best Friends: Writings on Interracial Friendship (ed. Emily Bernard), HaperCollins (forthcoming 2004).

"In the Realm of the Senses," Nerve (on-line magazine), Feb. 2000.

"Explaining Racism to My Daughter" in Racism Explained to My Daughter, Tahara Ben Jelloun & others, The New Press, 1999.

"How America Unsexes the Asian Male," New York Times, Home Section, Aug. 22, 1996.
"Secrets and Anger," Mother Jones, Sept/Oct 1992; reprinted Contemporary Issues In Interpersonal Communication.

"Strangers In The Village," The Graywolf Annual V: Multi-Cultural Literacy, ed. Scott Walker and Rick Simonsen, Graywolf Press 1988.


"The Facts & Fictions of Autobiography" by David Mura in Contemporary Authors , Vol 209, pg. 296 (Gale, 2003): An autobiographical essay by the author on his life and the process of writing his memoirs.

Interview in The Language of Life, edited by Bill Moyers & James Haba (Doubleday, 1995; audio and video tape also available)

"David Mura's Poetics of Identity" by Zhou Xiaojing, MELUS, fall 1998.


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