Georgia Straight: Joy Kogawa House is the “Best new place to get writing done”

When I joined the “Save Kogawa House” campaign in September 2005, I just knew it was something that had to be done. Three years later we now have our first writer-in-residence program with the arrival of Madeleine Thien and a grant from the Canada Council.

The House was purchased by The Land Conservancy of BC in May 2006, and we have since had readings by Ruth Ozeki, Shaena Lambert, Sharon Butala, Heidi Greco, Marion Quednau, and Vancouver’s poet laureate George McWhirter, as well as Joy Kogawa herself.  We have also had musical performances by opera soprano Heather Pawsey, flutist Kathryn Cernauskas and pianist Rachel Iwaasa.

It’s an amazing story that this house has survived not only the WW2 Internment of its previous owners but also rising real estate prices and the threat of demolition. It was a vision that we had to create a home for writers, to both recognize the accomplishments and life of Joy Kogawa, as well as to provide a place for them to hone their craft, and hopefully inspire them to their own greatness.

Check out page 77 of the Sept 18-25 / 2008 issue of the Georgia Straight. Kevin Chong writes that “Madeleine Thine will take up residence at a retreat dedicated to Joy Kogawa”.

Now that Joy Kogawa’s childhood home has been purchased and saved from the wrecking ball after years of struggle, it’s set to become a writer’s retreat for visiting authors, starting in 2009. (The first author to arrive in the house, located in leafy, sleepy Marpole, will be Madeleine Thien.) Hopefully, the house, which celebrates the contributions of one of B.C.’s best-known authors while reminding us of a regrettable episode in our nation’s history—the internment of Japanese Canadians during World War II—will inspire new books in the years to come. (Page 77)