E04: Traversing a world of words with Jordan A.Y. Smith

California native (Dr.) Jordan A.Y. Smith talks about his prolific life in Japan as a professor, translator, poet and sometimes rapper, about poetry as an antidote to loneliness, the key to surviving multiple 5,000-mile moves with his multi-cultural family, creating poetry for BBC Radio 4 with three Japanese poets in Mt. Fuji’s legendary Sea of Trees, and some of his new music and poetry.

Check out more about Jordan wordSmith’s work with the Sea of Trees: Poetic Gateways to Aokigahara project at BBC Radio 4 and Tokyo Poetry Journal. Thanks to Jordan for all his time and awesome music and poetry. And to Light Organ Records for letting me use the music of We Need Surgery in each episode. Listen to Jordan’s full songs and other original music featured in Rootabaga episodes on SoundCloud.

And Jordan shared links to some of the Japanese poets he has worked with or been inspired by. Check it out if this episode has made you curious about Japanese poetry.

Yumi Fuzuki catranslation.org & poetryinternationalweb.net
Hiromi Ito poetryinternationalweb.net
Mizuta Norikopoetrykanto.com
Tokyo Poetry Journal

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Music in the podcast:

Fall – We Need Surgery – Light Organ Records

I Want Magic – Lyrics/vocals Jordan A.Y. Smith, Music d. dahlinger

Not the Point of No Return – Lyrics/vocals Jordan A.Y. Smith, Music d. dahlinger

Red Threads and Blue (poem) – Jordan A. Y. Smith, from Sea of Trees: Poetic Gateways to Aokigahara (Smith, et al) originally written for BBC Radio 4

Naked Angels Didn’t Descend – Lyrics/vocals Jordan A.Y. Smith, Music d. dahlinger

Mukūhaku: Clearly Not Merely a Blank Space – Lyrics/vocals Jordan A.Y. Smith, Music d. dahlinger  (originally published in √IC: Redux (Tokyo: ToPoJo Excursions, 2018)

All songs used with permission

Have Skype, can hypnotise

Elaine Chou was working in finance in Beijing when she decided that her true calling was helping people resolve their personal problems. She now practices hypnotherapy for mainland Chinese clients from her home in LA via Skype.

In Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago to interview Dave Sperling of Dave’s ESL Cafe and my old bandmate Paul I was treated to an impromptu interview opportunity when I discovered that my host’s girlfriend was herself an expat and digital nomad with a pretty unordinary job. Originally from Taiwan, Elaine Chou was working in finance in Beijing when she decided that her true calling was helping people resolve their personal problems. After earning her masters degree in psychology in China and training in counseling and hypnotherapy in California she created a niche career for herself counseling clients in mainland China via Skype and using hypnosis as one of her main tools – all from, well, wherever she can access the internet.

elaine pic updated best woot.png

Stay tuned here for our really cool chat with Elaine about escaping an unsatisfying job, the Chinese people’s openness to therapy and hypnosis, and living the laptop job dream.

Shout out to Mario for the couch in LA! And just for fun a little theme music for the post.

No turning back now…

This post is a week after the fact but it really just sunk in today when I got an email from HR confirming my resignation on January 8 from a very comfy salary (at a soul-sucking job) and overinflated job title (assistant vice president/research division at an investment bank!!??) to pursue one crazy idea – a podcast about a bunch of expats who pursued their own crazy dreams to start unusual careers in foreign countries.


I could just wait till the whole thing is finished and drop ten episodes on the world all at once but I thought it would be much more fun to share the whole experience as I ramble and tumble through it. So it starts here.

Shout-out: I would not be to this point at all without the encouragement and ideas of two amazing people that this page won’t let me tag (??) – Murashka at Thumb it up / Hitchhiking around the world , who was with me when the idea sprouted and was an inspiration, sounding board and motivator in the early days and Wendy, whom I’ve known since middle or elementary school and who has not only been a sounding board and motivator but also become a creative and technical contributor and full time partner in the whole damn crazy thing. Thanks y’all!

If you’re interested in this project please follow here or head over to our Facebook page to see the podcast in the making.

Wait for it…..