Tag Archives: Kogawa House

Historic Joy Kogawa House welcomes new writer-in-exile Ava Homa

When we started the Historic Joy Kogawa House Society, we asked author Joy Kogawa, what kinds of writers she would like to see at the house.  She answered “Writers of Conscience.”

On May 1st, we will welcome our 5th writer-in-residence, since helping to save Joy Kogawa’s childhood home from impending demolition – A house that was “confiscated” from her family and sold, while her family was locked away in an internment camp for “Enemy Aliens” during WW2.  Joy was six years old at the time, and had been born in Canada. No Japanese-Canadians were ever charged with a crime.

I think that our four writers previously: John Asfour (Montreal), Nancy Lee (Richmond), Susan Crean (Toronto), Deborah Willis (Victoria), have all brought social issues to the forefront.  They have shared their stories, the work of other writers, and have also assisted writers.

Here is the release from PEN Canada:

Historic Joy Kogawa House residency awarded to PEN Writer-in-Exile Ava Homa

TORONTO, April 30, 2013 /CNW/ – Kurdish Iranian author  Ava Homa , a PEN Canada Writer-in-Exile, has been chosen as the next writer-in-residence at Vancouver’s Historic Joy Kogawa House. Homa’s three-month residency, funded by the Canada Council Residency Program and the British Columbia Arts Council, will begin on May 1, 2013, and focus on writing, research and community programs.

The Historic Joy Kogawa House Society is a community-based arts group that supports a writer-in-residence on a volunteer basis. Set in the former home of the author Joy Kogawa , the program seeks to foster a wider appreciation of Canadian literature within the communities of Metropolitan Vancouver. Homa will supervise creative writing workshops, consult with emerging writers and use the time to complete a novel about immigration, displacement and culture shock – themes germane to the fiction of Joy Kogawa and to the mandate of the Historic Joy Kogawa House Society.

Born and educated in Iran, Ava Homa holds an MA in English Language and Literature from the University of Tehran and an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Windsor. In 2010 TSAR Publications published her debut collection of short stories, Echoes from the Other Land, which was subsequently chosen as one of ten People’s Choice finalists in the 2011 Canada Reads competition.

Homa’s short fiction and translations have appeared in several English and Farsi journals and newspapers, including The Windsor Review and The Toronto Star. Homa has been a member of PEN Canada’s Writers in Exile network since 2011 and was the 2012 PEN Lecturer-in-Residence at  George Brown  College

PEN Canada is a nonpartisan organization of writers that works with others to defend freedom of expression as a basic human right, at home and abroad. PEN Canada promotes literature, fights censorship, helps free persecuted writers from prison, and assists writers living in exile in Canada. PEN Canada’s Writers in Exile program helps authors and journalists who have been silenced in their country of origin to establish themselves in Canada.

Historic Joy Kogawa House is situated in the former home of the Canadian author Joy Kogawa (born 1935), where she lived until age six. 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, with the help of The Land Conservancy of BC, a non-profit land trust, managed to purchase the house in 2006.



Aboriginal & Asian-Canadian issue of Ricepaper Magazine successfully launched at Historic Joy Kogawa House

Ricepaper Magazine launch: Aboriginal + Asian Canadian issue

Six writers read at our issue launch for Ricepaper Magazine at Historic Joy Kogawa House. I am pleased to be chair of Historic Joy Kogawa House Society, and on the board of Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop – publisher of Ricepaper Magazine… This is one of the best issues of Ricepaper that I have seen over the 16 year history of the magazine. http://ricepapermagazine.ca/

Harry Aoki – remembered in Globe & Mail: overcame wartime internment to flourish as a musician

I wanted to let you know that Today’s Globe & Mail, features an obituary on Harry Aoki, who passed away on January 24th 2013, at age 91.

Harry Aoki and guitarist-singer Jim Johnson on their 1968 CBC-TV series, Moods of Man.
The character of Steven Nakane in both Joy Kogawa’s Obasan and Naomi’s Road – was partly inspired/based on Harry Aoki.

Joy Kogawa first heard of Mr. Aoki while listening to CJOC radio from Lethbridge, during her own internment.

“They had an annual talent show,” she recalls. “And Harry always placed second to the pianist Dale Bartlett. I remember him playing his harmonica and feeling so proud that here was a Japanese-Canadian with so much talent.”
They met years later and, when writing her celebrated novel, Obasan, Ms. Kogawa thought of Harry the wonderful musician and made the character Stephen a composite of him and her own brother.
He was 80 when he started the monthly world music get-together, First Friday Forum, bringing together musicians from all cultures and disciplines to play and talk. The monthly jam attracted musicians from around the globe – it was not uncommon to find artists from Russia, Mexico, Indonesia and India jamming away. Among them were African drummer Tembo Tano, Celtic violinist Max Nguen and Japanese flautist Chieko Konishi-Louie.
He was active in the campaign to save the Vancouver childhood home of Ms. Kogawa, as well as the Powell Street Festival, the annual celebration of Japanese-Canadian culture. He was also involved in Vancouver’s annual celebration that fuses Chinese New Year with Robert Burns Day (Jan. 25), Gung Haggis Fat Choy
– photo Deb Martin
For the first Open House event, September 2006, after the saving of Historic Joy Kogawa House, from the threat of demolition….Harry performed on his double bass, myself on accordion, his friend Masako Watanabe on guitar…. with Jessica Cheung, opera soprano, who performed the role of Naomi – for the Vancouver Opera Touring Ensemble of “Naomi’s Road.”

– photo Deb Martin

On March 1st, Friday, 6-10pm  – There will be a Celebration of Life musical tribute for First Friday Forum – held at St. John’s College, UBC, for Harry Aoki.