Ryka Aoki

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Ryka Aoki
Alma materCornell University
Literary movementtransgender

Ryka Aoki is a Japanese American[1] author known for her poetry collection Seasonal Velocities and her novel He Mele a Hilo.[2][3] Seasonal Velocities was a finalist for the award for transgender nonfiction in the 25th Lambda Literary Awards in 2013.[4] Her book Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul was a finalist for the 28th Lambda Literary Awards.[5]

Aoki earned her MFA in creative writing from Cornell University, and won the Academy of American Poets' University Award.[6] She was honored by the California State Senate for her work with Trans/Giving, a Los Angeles performance series for trans and gender queer individuals.[7]

Aoki, a transgender woman, has said that she strives not to write just for other transgender readers, but for their family, and other people in general. Her book He Mele a Hilo was meant to chronicle the common Hawaiian experience. In a addition to her book Aoki also wrote a piece for the Publishers Weekly. She hopes that through writing for a general audience instead of only trans people, that she can help others see transgender people as human, she wrote: "If a trans musician can make the audience cry by playing Chopin, how else, but as a human, can she be regarded? And if a book written by a queer trans Asian American can make you think of your own beaches, your own sunsets, or the dear departed grandmother you loved so much and even now find yourself speaking to, then what more powerful statement of our common humanity can there be?"[3]

An interview with Aoki was featured in the 2014 book Queer and Trans Artists of Color: Stories of Some of Our Lives, by Nia King, which was named one of Advocate.com's Best Transgender Non-Fiction Books of 2014.[8]

Aoki teaches English at Santa Monica College and gender studies at Antioch University.[9] She holds a black belt and has been head judo coach at both Cornell University and UCLA.[7]


  • Seasonal Velocities Ryka Aoki, 2012, ISBN 978-0-9851105-0-5
  • He Mele a Hilo Topside Press, 2014, ISBN 978-1-62729-007-4
  • Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul biyuti publishing, 2015, ISBN 978-0-9919008-5-5


  1. ^ Lee, Elizabeth (2012-04-23). "Front Row: Ryka Aoki". ALINE Magazine (2012–04–23).
  2. ^ Jax, TT (January 6, 2013). "The Fruits of Winter: Ryka Aoki's "Seasonal Velocities"". Lambda Literary. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
  3. ^ a b Aoki, Ryka (May 22, 2015). "Why I Write: Ryka Aoki". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
  4. ^ Griffith, Nicola (March 6, 2013). "25th Annual Lambda Literary Awards Shortlist". Retrieved October 2, 2015.
  5. ^ "28TH ANNUAL LAMBDA LITERARY AWARD FINALISTS". Lambda Literary. 2016-04-11. Retrieved 22 March 2019.
  6. ^ "Ryka Aoki". Topside Press. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
  7. ^ a b "Ryka Aoki". Trans-Genre. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
  8. ^ Kellaway, Mitch (November 5, 2014). "The Years 10 Best Transgender Non-Fiction Books". Advocate.com. Retrieved October 9, 2015.
  9. ^ Reyes, Gabrielle (November 11, 2014). "Ryka Aoki speaks as part of Trans Week". The Brown Daily Herald. Retrieved October 9, 2015.

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