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Sally Ito

Sally Ito was born in Taber, Alberta and raised in Edmonton and the Northwest Territories. She studied at the University of British Columbia and completed an M.A. at the University of Alberta. She translated Japanese poetry while on scholarship to Japan. Ito taught at The King’s University College in Edmonton, Alberta but now lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Her family memoir, The Emperor’s Orphans, was published in September 2018 by Turnstone Press.


Alert to Glory

Winnipeg: Turnstone Press, 2011.
PS8567 .T63 A64 2011

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

Whether the focus is on parenting, biblical texts, or on creativity itself, Ito discerns the moment in which the word might become wondrous—moments when the mind-bell is struck dumb, and the hollow fills with shuddering sound, agog with itself.  Ito’s images ring with profundity in clear, fearless language that seeks to connect the reader with the soul’s capacity to sense the divine through gifts of awareness and wonder.

Awards and Honours

2012 Award of Merit for the Canadian Christian Writing Awards


Frogs in the Rain Barrel

Roberts Creek, B.C.: Nightwood Editions, 1995.

Publisher’s Synopsis (from its website)

In the title poem of this extraordinary first book, Sally Ito remembers her childhood in Alberta, when she set frogs in the rain barrel and watched them swim like stars in a “pool of still and nether depths/ whose mirrored surface was all.”
Those imagined depths become a powerful metaphor in these poems, which reflect Ito’s experiences as a young Japanese Canadian living and writing in Alberta, the Northwest Territories, the West Coast and Japan.

Awards and Honours

1995 Milton Acorn People’s Poetry Award (Nominated)


Season of Mercy

Roberts Creek, B.C.: Nightwood Editions, 1999.
PS8567 .T63 S42 1999

Publisher’s Synopsis

This evocative collection charts the passage of the soul through time, from the darkness of despair to the awakening and understanding of one’s own calling and vocation. …
Skilfully drawing on myth, nature, biblical themes, and her own experience as a mother and writer, Ito weaves a philosophic and poetic landscape from which the world can be comprehended with grace and compassion.

Fiction (Short stories)

Floating Shore

Toronto: Mercury Press, 1998.
PS8567 .T63 F56 1998

Publisher’s Synopsis

In the emotional and social distance between emigration and real arrival, between travel and understanding the place one visits, is the floating shore of identity. The stories in Ito’s book explore, from different angles and perspectives, the newness of arrival, and how it can alter personality, vision and lives.

Awards and Honours

1999 Howard O’Hagan Award for Short Fiction-Alberta Literary Awards (Writers Guild of Alberta)(Winner)
1998 Danuta Gleed Literary Prize (Nominated)
1998 City of Edmonton Book Prize (Nominated)

Non-fiction (Memoir)

The Emperor’s Orphans

Winnipeg: Turnstone Press, 2018.
PS8567 .T63 Z46 2018

Publisher’s Synopsis

During the Second World War, approximately 4,000 Japanese-Canadians were “repatriated” to Japan. Among those Canadians sent back to were members of author and poet, Sally Ito’s family. As a Japanese Canadian child growing up in the suburbs of Edmonton, Alberta, Ito’s early life was a lone island of steamed tofu and vegetables amidst a sea of pot roast and mashed potatoes. Through the Redress movement of the late 80s, the eventual Parliamentary acknowledgment of wartime injustices, and the restoration of citizenship to those exiled to Japan she considers her work as an author of poetry and prose, meditating on themes of culture and identity.

Later as a wife and mother of two, Sally returns to Japan and re-lives the displacement of her family through interviews, letters, and shared memories. Throughout her journey Ito weaves a compelling narrative of her family’s journey through the darkest days of the Pacific War, its devastating aftermath, and the repercussions on cultural identity for all the Emperor’s Orphans.



Double Lives: Writing and Motherhood

Ito, Sally. “Mother to Vision.” In Double Lives, edited by Shannon Cowan, Fiona Tinwei Lam, and Cathy Stonehouse. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s, 2008.


Sally Ito page from the Writers’ Union of Canada website

Publisher Harbour Publishing

Publisher The Mercury Press

Publisher Turnstone Press