Karen Parrish

Karen Parrish

Writer-in-residence at Historic Joy Kogawa House from October 1 to November 30, 2023.

Karen Parrish is a poet and grief group facilitator with the Lower Mainland Grief Recovery Society. She holds a certificate in fine art techniques from Emily Carr University and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and literature from Syracuse University; she graduated cum laude in English and American Literature and Languages from Harvard University.

In October 2019 she ceased being a partner in a lifelong relationship and became a single person navigating disbelief, confusion, and deep sorrow. In her loss she turned to literature, and as a poet, she looked to poetry to make sense of suffering, undertaking a daily ritual of walking in Pacific Spirit Park, and writing haikus on her iPhone.

Karen Parrish edited more than 1,500 grief haikus to publishable size while in residence at Historic Joy Kogawa House from October 1 to November 30, 2023, and presented two public programs during the residency.

Not Just Seventeen Syllables: Expressing Grief Through Haiku

How writing haiku helped in navigating grief’s strong emotions, how the small form could express the largest of feelings. Participants were encouraged to bring their own grief haikus to share and discuss with the group, and we wrote grief haikus as well.

The event was held on Sunday, October 15, 2023, from 3:00 to 4:30 pm, in the living room at Historic Joy Kogawa House.

Two Sides of the Heart’s Coin: Beauty and Transformation in Grief Poetry

In this workshop, we explored poems that illustrated the duality of grief by showing how trauma, disbelief, and sadness could balance with a new creative engagement with the world and a heightened compassion for self and others.

The workshop took place on Sunday, November 19, 2023, from 3:00 to 4:30 pm, in the living room at Historic Joy Kogawa House.