Shannon Osaka

Shannon Osaka headshot


I'm originally from San Jose, California and am pursuing a Creative Writing certificate in poetry. I'm an independent major in Environmental Science and Environmental Studies – so I will be writing 2 theses in my senior year. My non-creative thesis will be examining social responses to climate change through weather attribution and the role of climate models as hypothetical (and yet scientific!) forms of world-building. I'm also interested in political ecology, science and technology studies, and ethnography.

In poetry, I am fascinated by the idea of the metaphysical "I", as it is called by Dorothea Lasky - a narrator or speaker that can both evoke and surpass the writer, that can be its own "cool animal". I enjoy poetry that rejects a firm narrative but is tied together by a first-person viewpoint that can shift and metamorphose. I also enjoy poems that obliquely or overtly reflect the environment and our numerous indoor and outdoor experiences. My favorite poet is perhaps Arda Collins.

At Princeton, I am involved in the Princeton Sustainable Investment Initiative and chair the Undergraduate Student Government Academics Committee. My past interests have included rock climbing, unicycling, and hiking.

My poems have been published in Alice Blue Review and Forklift, Ohio, and I have studied at both the Tin House Writer's Workshop and the Sewanee Writers' Conference. I am extremely grateful to be a part of Princeton's wonderful CWR department.

I was lucky enough to have a lot of family and educational support for my interest in creative writing throughout my childhood in high school. However, I did not fully appreciate the place of poetry in my life until I developed a chronic pain syndrome after my graduation from high school. I had to take 2 years off, much of which I spent on bed rest. I wrote poems to keep myself occupied and to feel engaged with the world.

Arriving at Princeton, I wanted to pretend that the experience and subsequent disabilities had never happened to me. It was only once I started to use my poems to explore the life of my mother, who had cancer, that I began to understand that poetry can have a cathartic role in my life. I became interested in writing poems about fragility of bodies, and how my life and my mother's life were fundamentally changed by our medical circumstances.

As a peer mentor, I'm eager to support students who are working to align their work more with their personal lives, facing and confronting experiences that are neither comfortable nor safe. Those forms of radical honesty can be difficult to achieve but can open new pathways for artistic expression.

As a student halfway between the sciences and the humanities, I am also happy to work with students who are trying to focus on their art form despite having a major that emphasizes a different form of thought.

Class of '17

Program in Creative Writing

Residential College


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