Laurel Nakanishi was raised in Alewa, on the island of O'ahu, Hawaii. She is the author of the award-winning poetry book, Ashore and the chapbook, Mānoa|Makai. Her poetry and essays have appeared in national magazines, such as Orion, Gulf Coast, Fourth Genre, Black Warrior Review, Bayou, and Western Humanities Review among others. She has been fortunate to receive grants from the Fulbright Foundation, the Japan-US Friendship Commission/ National Endowment for the Arts, the US embassy in Nicaragua, and the Greta Wrolstad Foundation.
Laurel has taught poetry writing to children in Hawaii, Nicaragua, Montana, and Miami. In 2012, she founded a community arts organization in Nicaragua, NicaArts, which she continues to direct. Focusing on the intersections between teaching, writing, and community organizing, Laurel collaborates with non-profits and schools in her home state of Hawai’i to bring creative writing opportunities to underserved children and young adults.
Laurel has presented her writing at the International Poetry Festival in Granada, Nicaragua, the International House of Japan, Montana Festival of the Book, Reading Queer Miami, and the University of British Columbia. Laurel received her MFA in poetry from the University of Montana and her MFA in creative non-fiction from Florida International University. She lives with her family in Honolulu, Hawai’i.