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


The following address can be used to access videos of David Mura delivering poetry ("Words on My Tongue," "Internment Camp Psychology," "Letters from Tule Lake Internment Camp," "Minneapolis Public") and performance pieces ("The Oriental Thug," "The Paranoid Asian American Guy"):

Below are examples of Mura's presentations. They can be tailored for the specific needs of educational conferences or corporate meetings.


Mura's readings combine selections from his memoirs, poetry and performance monologues. The result is an intricately textured presentation that explores his Japanese American background, his life as a man of color and a complex portrait of multicultural America.

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 the denial of the realities of race hinder the educational process and the individual's ability to understand themselves and each other? In the first half of the talk, Mura addresses these and other questions from an autobiographical perspective. In the second half, he explores the ways in which our society is in denial about race and suggests that we need a more complex and open way of speaking about the issue.

Leadership: The Three-Act Play & The Limitations of the Good Student

Being a leader or change agent 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. The hero wonders if the task can be completed and if the needed personal capabilities are there. At such moments, Mura says, the hero must not only find the will to continue, but must undergo an epiphany of self-knowledge and self-worth. Mura explains the differences between the good student and the creative individual. This contrast points to both a limitation in our education system and in the ways we approach the task of leadership.

Unleashing the Unconscious: The Age of Creativity

The digital age is not only radically altering the business world, its also opening up new possibilities of politics and social organization. We are living in a new Age of Creativity, but how are leaders and institutions going to unleash the creativity of their workers and constituents? To prepare for a rapidly changing future, Mura posits, we need to change our notions of who we are and 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.

: : :

Mura also does co-presentations with African American novelist Alexs Pate as well as recreations of their collaborative performance piece, Secret Colors, about Asian American African American relations.


Comments on Mura's presentations:

"Your keynote continues to provide foundation for thoughtful and challenging conversations. Many folks from different schools have commented to me about the power and excitement they felt while considering your talk."

-- Peter Berner-Hayes, Pacific Northwest Association of Independent Schools

"All of us at Kalamazoo college would like to extend to you our greatest appreciation for your recent visit to campus. After you left, I continued to hear such comments as 'awesome' and 'fabulous' from students and faculty, and as I mentioned, the little evaluations on the backs of the LAC forms were consistently laudatory....I do hope we are able to invite you back for part of the first-year student orientation next year."

-- Prof. Rose Bundy, Kalamazoo College

"As a poet and essayist, David Mura delves with uncommon depth and vulnerability into the multicultural complexities of his own life.

With startling openness, this third-generation Japanese-American confronts both his middle-class Americanness and his Asian roots, which were obscured when he was growing up in a Chicago suburb with upper-middle-class parents eager to make it in the white world.

Were this simply autobiography, Mura's work would be interesting simply because of his clear thinking and his sometimes brutal honesty. But Mura is first and foremost a poet, a transformer of experience into images willing to live his emotional life publicly. He channels his rage, shame and pain into unexpected verbal pictures--sometimes wry, often ironic, usually limpidly beautiful and therefore startling. His verse makes you see, with clarity, what is complicated and ambiguous and human.

As a poet wrestling with his own life in a cultural, political and social context, Mura has been eager to extend his voice to a larger audience. To that end he's taken his poetic-critical voice into the performance arena. He presented his "performance poetry" for one night only at the Intermedia Arts Gallery in Minneapolis with an extension of his written poetry into visual imagery (projections, video) and an extension of normal poetry reading into theater....

Mura accepts the insults of the culture and the emotional violence of self-denial, and turns them into self-knowledge and compassion. From a yearning to belong, he now celebrates otherness, and he transforms that status into a liquid clarity that both illuminates and heals."

-- Mike Steele, Minneapolis Star Tribune on Relocations: Images from a Sansei


©2016 All rights reserved. Materials may not be reproduced without express permission from the author.