Joy Kogawa & Friends – Emotionally and Truthful reading at Chapters on Robson, Saturday Feb 11

Joy Kogawa & Friends – Emotionally and Truthful
reading at Chapters on Robson, Saturday Feb 11

Authors Joy Kogawa,
Daphne Marlatt, Ellen Crowe-Swords, Heahter Skydt (TLC), Todd Wong
(Save Kogawa House) and Roy Miki at Chapters bookstore on Robson for
“Joy Kogawa & Friends.” – photo Deb Martin.

It was a surprisingly emotional and appreciative audience that thanked
each of the readers on Saturday Feb 11th at Chapters on Robson St.

Roy Miki started by reading segments from his book REDRESS: Inside the
Japanese Canadian Call for Justice.  Miki read passages that set
the tone and described how the government used language to euphemize
and downplay the confiscation of property, the massive uprooting and
tearing of social fabric, and the internment of Japanese Canadians,
labeled as “enemy aliens.”

Daphne Marlatt read from her book of poetry “Steveston”, a collection
of poetry about the Japanese Canadian community in of Steveston in
Richmond BC.  She verbally painted a picture of the community and
its loss.

Joy Kogawa shares a story with the audience while Daphne Marlatt and Roy Miki watch – photo Todd Wong

Ellen Crowe-Swords created a poignant moment when she set the time of
her story, as the 2nd week in December 1942.  She set a 6 year old
Joy Kogawa playing in her cherry Tree, herself as a week old baby,
Daphne Marlatt as new child immigrant to Canada, and Roy Miki as a
“twinkle in your father's eye” as Miki was born after internment while
his parents were relocated on a beet farm.

Joy herself, spoke about the challenges of the recent house
campaign and read from Emily Kato – a reworking of Itsuka.  She
commented that she rewrote Itsuka to try to make it a better book – but
unfortunately it has been very difficult to find.  This is
incredulous because of all the attention that Joy and her works have
been recieving with 2005's One Book One Vancouver program at the
Vancouver Public Library, Vancouver Opera's Naomi's Road touring
production, and now the Save Kogawa House campaign which has gone

Joy Kogawa and Ellen Crowe-Swords listen attentively – photo Todd Wong

When questions from the audience arose, several people thanked the
readers and many had tears in their eyes because the talk and the
experience was so emotional releasing.  Joy had spoken about the
need to overcome the darkness and find the light in redress for both
Japanese Canadians and Chinese Canadians.  She had also read a
letter from a Japanese Canadian person who had grown up as an internee
housed in not a shack, or a stable, but a chicken coop – with fleas.

One Chinese Canadian woman said she had been involved in the CC redress
in Montreal, but hadn't been able to find a sense of community and
like-minded individuals in Vancouver.  She apologized for crying,
saying she didn't know how bad it was for the Japanese Canadians, as
people kept telling her that you cannot compare JC redress to CC
redress.  But while 62 years of legislated racism affected each
group differently (Roy Miki's book Redress points out that Canada had a
“gentleman's agreement” with Japan to limit emmigration from Japan to
Canada), Both were affected very much by the very strong anti-Asian
resentment in Canada at the time, which certainly resulted in the 1907
riots where the Anti-Asiatic League attacked both Chinatown and

Joy will next be giving the keynote talk at the “Order of Canada / Flag
Day” luncheon organized by The Canadian Club.  Feb 15, 2006 at the
Four Seasons Hotel.  This is a very prestigious event that
acknowledges BC's newest Order of Canada recipients.

Joy will give a public reading at the Vancouver Public Library on Feb
27th.  This is to be the Vancouver launch for her book Emily Kato
(reworked Itsuka) which follows Naomi's journey to Toronto to work with
Aunt Emily on the Japanese Canadian redress campaign.

The TLC display for “Save Kogawa House” campaign – photo Todd Wong

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