Perspectives is an on ongoing series of interviews and check-ins with recipients of our Artist Research and Development Grant (ARDG). Today we speak with 2015 ARDG recipient Jia Oak Baker of Peoria.

Jia Oak Baker teaches writing at Paradise Valley Community College, serves on the editorial board for the community-based literary publication Four Chambers Press (Phoenix, AZ), and works as a literary teaching artist for the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture. She is also the author of two chapbooks of poems, Crash Landing in the Plaza of an Unknown City (Dancing Girl Press, 2015) and Well Enough to Travel (Five Oaks Press, 2015).

Baker recieved an Artist Research and Development Grant in 2015 from the Arizona Commission on the Arts in support of research related to her book-length poetry manuscript titled Radius. The work incorporates histories of pre- and post-war Korea as told from the perspective of three generations of women, all immigrants to America. It is a story of war, survival, immigration, and family that has influenced Baker’s entire life. Baker represents the third generation, fusing the stories of mother and grandmother together with a voice containing the empathic imagination for understanding and forgiveness in the face of loss, betrayal, exile, and assimilation.

Her research has taken her from Los Angeles, California to Busan, South Korea, allowing her to experience for herself the landscapes of her family’s history. At each place she has visited, Baker has acquired copies of documents and artifacts that will corroborate her narrative and add authenticity to the manuscript.

Baker recently returned from South Korea, and while her work on the manuscript continues, she was kind enough to share with us the video below, featuring images of her journey.

For more information about Jia Oak Baker and her work, click here.

For more information on Artist Research and Development Grants, including eligibility requirements and application guidelines, click here.


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