Historic Joy Kogawa House announces new writer-in-residence

Mohawk/Tuscarora poet Janet Rogers is dedicating her time as the Historic Joy Kogawa House writer-in-residence (April 1 to June 30, 2018) to publishing a new collection of legends inspired by the original Legends of Vancouver penned by Mohawk poet E. Pauline Johnson, Tekahionwake, in 1911 as told to her by Chief Joe Capilano, Sa7plek. The original book was a publishing project by the Vancouver Women’s Press Club and the Women’s Canadian Club meant to supply Johnson with funds to pay her medical bills after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Pauline died two years later, on March 7, 1913, three days before her fifty-second birthday.

The New Legends of Vancouver anthology will feature new writings of freshly unearthed Vancouver-based legends with poems and commentary by Rogers and artists of note from both the Mohawk and four host nations in the Vancouver region. The updated collection of legends will provide a marker in time from an Indigenous perspective, through creative voices. As a means towards the New Legends publication, Rogers and the Historic Joy Kogawa House Society are hosting events which the public can attend. Information about E. Pauline Johnson, Chief Joe Capilano, their collaborations and histories will be shared by artists, scholars, historians, and family descendants. Check the Kogawa House website and social media pages for details.

Sunday, April 22
Alice MacKay Room, Lower Level
Vancouver Public Library Central Branch

Sunday, May 6
Historic Joy Kogawa House, 1450 West 64th Avenue, Vancouver

About Janet Marie Rogers

Victoria, British Columbia, Poet Laureate 2012–2015
University of Northern British Columbia Writer in Residence 2015/2016
OCAD Indigenous Visual Culture NIGIG Visiting Artist 2016
Northern Comma Writer in Residence September–October 2017
Gushul Artists Residency November 2017
Historic Joy Kogawa House Residency April–June 2018

Janet is a Mohawk/Tuscarora writer from Six Nations. She was born in Vancouver, British Columbia; lived in Stoney Creek, Hamilton, and Toronto, Ontario; and has lived as a guest on the traditional lands of the Coast Salish people (Victoria, British Columbia) since 1994. Janet works in the genres of poetry, spoken-word performance poetry, video poetry, and recorded poetry with music. Janet is also a radio broadcaster, documentary producer, and media and sound artist.

Her literary titles include Splitting the Heart, Ekstasis Editions 2007; Red Erotic, Ojistah Publishing 2010; Unearthed, Leaf Press 2011; Peace in Duress, Talonbooks 2014; and Totem Poles and Railroads, ARP Books 2016, as well as a forthcoming title Between Spirit and Emotion, Bookland Press Fall 2018. She produced and hosted Native Waves Radio on CFUVfm from 2007–2017. Her music column Tribal Clefs was part of CBC Victoria’s programming from 2008–2016. Her radio documentaries “Bring Your Drum: 50 Years of Indigenous Protest Music” and “Resonating Reconciliation” won Best Radio at the imagineNATIVE Film and Media Festival in 2011 and 2013.

Janet Rogers and Ahkwesase Mohawk poet Alex Jacobs make up the poetry collective Ikkwenyes, which produced the poetry CD Got Your Back and won the Loft Literary Fellowship Prize in 2014. The 2Ro Media Collective is a production company she and Mohawk media artist Jackson 2bears own and operate, and which produced the short experimental documentary NDNs on the Airwaves about CKRZfm Six Nations Radio. 2Ro Media also developed the multiple media project titled For This Land presented as multi-channel media installations in several galleries and public venues. Janet produced a six-part radio documentary series titled NDNs on the Airwaves focused on the current history of native radio in Canada, launched in February 2016.

About Historic Joy Kogawa House

Historic Joy Kogawa House is the former home of the Canadian author Joy Kogawa (born 1935). It stands as a cultural and historical reminder of the expropriation of property that all Canadians of Japanese descent experienced after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. Between 2003 and 2006, a grassroots committee fundraised in a well-publicized national campaign and managed to purchase the house in 2006.

Together with Joy Kogawa, the various groups decided that the wisest and best use of the property would be to establish it as a place where writers could live and work. Following the models of the writer-in-residence programs in place at the Berton House Writers’ Retreat in Dawson City, Yukon, and Roderick Haig-Brown House in Campbell River, BC, the Historic Joy Kogawa House writer-in-residence program brings well-regarded professional writers in touch with a local community of writers, readers, editors, publishers, booksellers, and librarians. While in residence, the writer works to enrich the literary community around him or her and to foster an appreciation for Canadian writing through programs that involve students, other established and emerging writers and members of the general public.

Since 2009, the Historic Joy Kogawa Society has hosted more than 20 writers to live and work in the house, some on a paid basis. Funding is provided through the Frank H. Hori Charitable Foundation, the BC Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts, and through donations and memberships from the general public.

The City of Vancouver purchased the property in November 2016 and leased it back to the Historic Joy Kogawa House Society at nominal rent to help support hosting writers-in-residence there. Restoration work in the living room and sun room was undertaken this past winter with support from the Province of British Columbia through the British Columbia | Canada 150: Celebrating B.C. Communities and their Contributions to Canada grant program and through the City of Vancouver Cultural Infrastructure Fund. Restoration work now in place expands the performance area and returns original woodwork and floor plans to these rooms. Come see!