We had the good fortune of connecting with Kirsten Imani Kasai and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kirsten, as a parent, what do you feel is the most meaningful thing you’ve done for them?
My goal as a parent has always been to raise resilient children. Kids who are critical thinkers, who acknowledge their fear but move forward despite it. Children with intact, whole spirits. I think that too many kids have their spirits broken by family members or other people in their lives, which leaves them with lasting scars and damage that continues to ripple throughout their lives. Of course, we can’t predict or prevent everything that happens in our lives, but as a parent, I can imbue my kids with a sense of self-worth to help them navigate difficulties as they arise. I raised my kids to trust their instincts, and to know that they are the ultimate authority of themselves and their bodies. I wanted them to know that they have a right to speak up for themselves, defend themselves, to say no, and to express their feelings and opinions. To understand that just because an adult says something, doesn’t make it true. I encouraged them to think critically, to be curious, and to seek answers to their questions. To be kind and caring. To be silly, laugh, create and have fun. To take ownership of their deeds and misdeeds. Mostly, I sought to preserve that bright spark of uninhibited joy that children carry into the world with them. I think if my kids have a genuine capacity for joy, then I’ve done all right.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have a shelf in my office that holds copies of all my work that has appeared in print: my novels, magazines, short story anthologies, and my poetry chapbook. Whenever I get discouraged about my writing career, I look at that shelf. It reminds me that I can do this. I’ve done it before (written and published my work), I can do it again. But progress on my new novel has been really slow. Pandemic life hasn’t been very fruitful for me, creatively. I find it hard to focus, hard to relax into my fictional worlds when the real one demands such vigilance. But 2020 has been a good teacher, in some respects. Reminding me what’s important. Confirming that all we can do is exist in the moment, work toward the future outcome we want while also being detached from that outcome. It’s a balancing act, for sure. And whenever I wonder if I will ever finish another book, I look at my shelf and remind myself that there’s no timeline. Things happen when they happen; just keep doing the work and moving forward with diligence, determination, and hope—one word, one line, and one page at a time.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Karaoke at Redwing Bar and Grill in North Park A day trip to Julian for pie Japanese Friendship Garden Fancy cocktails at Polite Provisions Mole at Cantina Mayahuel Dancing: 80s vs. 90s night at the Whistlestop in South Park Currently, I’d suggest lots of outdoors activities: Cinema Under the Stars, beach bonfire at Shelter Island Park or on the Silver Strand, catching a double feature at the South Bay Drive-In. A visit to the tidepools and lighthouse at Cabrillo National Monument A night of two of camping at Mount Palomar’s Observatory campground or South Carlsbad State Beach.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Michelle Murphy Zive has been an instrumental support to me. We’ve been working together over the past year via a coaching trade to serve as accountability partners and sounding boards for each other’s projects. She makes me laugh, she has amazing insight and she is effortlessly genuine and caring. She pushes me to profound new insights and is a delightful conversational partner, whatever the topic. It has been a true delight to witness her vision, We Are One Rebellion, manifest.
“We Are One Rebellion is a battle cry to voice the change we want to see in the world. Through storytelling, images, and discussions, we strive to create connection and empathy in a space of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. “