Author Sharon Butala mesmerized the packed audience at historic Joy Kogawa House on Friday night. The Order of Canada author talked how she helped
established a writer in residence program at Wallace Stegner's childhood home in
Butala is giving a weekend writing workshop about memoir writing at Kogawa House, marking the start of turning the historic literary landmark into a true writers-in-residence program for the City of Vancouver and the Canadian literary and writing community.
Butala read from her Governor General award nominated memoir book, The Perfection of the Morning: An Apprenticeship in Nature, and her new book Lilac Moon: Dreaming of the Real West
She also talked about the CBC Fifth Estate documentary she inspired and was a part of: CBC: The fifth estate – Death of A Beauty Queen – which investigated the unsolved 1963 murder of Butala's former high school friend.
She answered a few questions, some about her writing, and some about how she helped create a writers-in-residence program in Eastend SK. Then afterwards, she signed copies of her books and chatted with the audience members.
For this past month, Butala has been living as a guest at Joy Kogawa's Vancouver appartment, while Kogawa lives in her primary residence in Toronto. On Feb 3rd, Butala attended the Vancouver opera production “Voices of the Pacific Rim” with members of the Joy Kogawa House Society, and was introduced to some of the singers who had performed the Naomi's Road opera, based on the children's novel by Joy Kogawa.
Sharon Butala and Historic Joy Kogawa House seem like a perfect fit. This house where the 6 year old Joy Kogawa grew up in, and remembered through years of internment during WW2, and for years afterwards became realized in a memoir of sorts, the award winning novel Obasan. Butala and her husband Peter, are also nationally recognized conservationists. In 1996, they donated their 13,100-acre (5,300 ha) ranch near Eastend
to the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) to establish The Old Man on
His Back Prairie and Heritage Preserve (OMB). It was in 2006, that Joy Kogawa House was purchased by The Land Conservancy of BC, to become Vancouver's first literary and historical landmark.
As a member of the Joy Kogawa House Society, I know that we are deeply appreciative of Sharon's work to help us develop a writer's-in-residence program for Historic Joy Kogawa house. We thank Sharon for her wonderful spirit and commitment to our project.