Sawako Nakayasu

Massachusetts, United States

Member Since: 03/02/2012

Sawako Nakayasu is an artist working with language, performance, and translation – separately and in various combinations. She has lived mostly in the US and Japan, briefly in France and China, and translates from Japanese. Her books include Pink Waves (Omnidawn, forthcoming), Some Girls Walk Into The Country They Are From (Wave Books), Say Translation Is Art (Ugly Duckling Presse pamphlet), The Ants (Les Figues Press), Texture Notes (Letter Machine Editions), and Hurry Home Honey (Burning Deck).

Her translations include contributions to Yi Sang: Selected Works (Wave Books, co-translated with Don Mee Choi, Jack Jung, and Joyelle McSweeney) and to Factory Girls by Takako Arai (co-translation, Action Books), as well as The Collected Poems of Sagawa Chika (Modern Library), Tatsumi Hijikata’s Costume en Face (Ugly Duckling Presse), and Mouth: Eats Color – Sagawa Chika Translations, Anti-translations, & Originals (Rogue Factorial), which is a multilingual work of both original and translated poetry. Her translation of Takashi Hiraide’s For the Fighting Spirit of the Walnut (New Directions, 2008) received the 2009 Best Translated Book Award from Three Percent. Nakayasu’s translations have been supported by fellowships from the NEA and PEN, and selections of her Chika Sagawa translations into English have then been translated into Galician, as well as two editions in Chilean Spanish, and have inspired a number of musical compositions.

Sawako Nakayasu has also appeared on Japanese television as a poetry judge, made numerous performances and one short film, performed in a re-enactment of Yvonne Rainer’s Grand Union Dreams (dir. Yelena Gluzman) and Cornelius Cardew’s Paragraphs 4 & 7 from The Great Learning (dir. Tomomi Adachi), and is Assistant Professor in the Department of Literary Arts at Brown University.


Twitter Username: @sawakonakayasu


  • Pink Waves , Omnidawn (October 1, 2022)
  • Say Translation Is Art , Ugly Duckling Presse (December 15, 2020)
  • Some Girls Walk Into The Country They Are From , Wave Books (2020)
  • The Ants , Les Figues Press (2014)
  • Texture Notes , Letter Machine Editions (2010)


  • Assistant Professor at Brown University (July 2017 - )


  • Bachelor of Arts in Literature -- Writing from UC San Diego (June 1997)
  • Bachelor of Arts in Music Composition from UC San Diego (June 1997)
  • Master of Fine Arts in Literary Arts from Brown University (May 2002)

Genres of Interest

Fiction, Creative nonfiction, Poetry