Conversation with Poet and Martial Artist Daryl Muranaka

Back in May, I had the pleasure of interviewing Daryl Muranaka for Spry’s Briefs blog. Daryl is a poet and martial artist who has, in his words, “lived as a minority, as part of a majority, and also as a foreigner.” In the interview we talked about the craft of writing poetry, the dance between his poetry and martial art practices, and difference.


You’re a longtime practitioner of martial arts. How do your martial arts practice and your writing practice speak to (or spar with) each other?

My various practices are surprisingly symbiotic. They are all, in their own ways, physical and sensual, but rather than competing, they meld and inform each other. Weird, I know, and very hard to explain. Writing is physically taxing as well as mentally and emotionally challenging. It’s about translating experience from physical to imagistic and then back to physical again. Tai Chi Chuan is all about balance, not just physical, but also mental and emotional balance, being grounded in your here-and-now experience. And aikido while doing the same thing, is also about spontaneous expressions of creativity at the advanced levels. My martial arts are also surprising in that both arts are about using and strengthening your joints, not your muscles, and depend on suppleness and flexibility to generate power and stability. They are about pushing (moving forward) more so than pulling (moving backwards). In this way, they are exactly like poetry and writing. I find the practices to be really invigorating for my writing, supplying me with a lot of fresh energy and a constant source of physical sensations.

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