Jackie Sakura is my name, though I go by many others including Sakura, “Cherry Blossom,” and 재키 (Romanized as “Jaeki” from Korean). I am an Asian American poet & grad student based in San Francisco.
I began quietly publishing my poetry online back in 2013 when I was an undergraduate in San Francisco and actually began venturing around the blogosphere and cataloguing points of interest via Tumblr as “pryrhnds etmlgst.” Back then I was obsessed with bold colors and loud imagery – chaos bred inspiration. For a generation that grew up on the Internet in many parts of the world, we often overlook the immense influence that the web has had on our individual and collective artistic tastes.
Artistic expression has also been a guiding theme in my life growing up. I am a node surrounded by a global network of diverse family members and friends who produce and celebrate art across a spectrum of mediums – painting, photography, portraiture, dance, song, poetry. Growing up transculturally in a diplomatic family in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Central Europe and the Pacific also shaped my aesthetic lens. In high school, I presented a senior project on street art across Europe, based on two weeks of fieldwork in cities including Barcelona, Paris, Nimes, Rome, Florence and Monaco. Later in college, I had an incredible internship opportunity that allowed me to research, write a paper, and build a website on Asian American heritage tattoos and their connections to early tattoo traditions in China, Korea, and Japan.
Mental illness was also a major part of my young adult life for a time, and while I lived in Washington, D.C. at age 20, I coped with anxiety by going out on solo photography journeys and gallery hops around the city. I also benefited from the immeasurable privilege of serving an internship at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, surrounded by nourishing art, culture, scholarship and people. These experiences, coinciding with a taste of California’s punk music scene and interwoven with some deeply influential reads of Henry Rollins and Patti Smith’s works, grew my love for art in ways that shaped my core. I have loved and learned from many people along the way.
In addition to visual art and personal/collective expression, language has played a driving force in my pursuit of creative learning. In college I gravitated towards linguistics, and later sociolinguistics, while studying Mandarin Chinese and political science. Hearing many languages and dialects growing up, and with international friends who were 80% multilingual, I realized how central language is to bridging humans. My own repertoire, aside from English, is a mosaic of Arabic, Spanish, French, Russian, Pidgin, Mandarin, Korean and Japanese. Diplomatically, these skills have demonstrated the ability to shorten wars, as well as to re-center nonviolent conflict resolution in situations that otherwise edged on bloodshed. Language is also a tangible preservation of culture, and today many languages have already become extinct or are verging on extinction. Having lost a command of the Japanese language in my family over multiple generations, largely due to the experiences of WWII, has motivated me to rediscover and redefine a connection to my Japanese (and Korean) heritage. Along this agenda, I have gained tremendously from an interdisciplinary program in graduate school, in which I consider my primary “field” to be History. No history, no self.
Beyond these bridges between my art and my learning, my desire to step up my online creative presence has been deeply influenced by a budding class of strong, talented, unapologetic female bloggers, icons, and lifestyle movers – particularly hapa-identifying artists – who are infusing the entire media landscape with new, multicultural possibilities.
With that, I hope you enjoy seeing more of the work that comes out of this context in the posts to come. Happy reading, happy blogging, and keep blooming.
xo Jackie Sakura
What makes you bloom?