During my residency, I will be primarily editing my novel manuscripts as well as picture books. I will be running workshops and presenting in Vancouver and Victoria. On August 15, I look forward to celebrating the release of my sixth book, one that I began seven years ago, A LIKKLE MISS LOU: How Louise Bennett Coverley Found Her Voice, just in time for the 100th anniversary of this Jamaican poet. I also have some important decisions to make about my writing career.
Being a writer in residence at the Historic Joy Kogawa House is kind of like living in a museum. There are tours and visitors on occasion. I look around at framed photographs, paintings, and plaques. I wash dishes and brush my teeth in a kitchen and bathroom from which a family was forced to flee long ago. I try to imagine the chatter of Joy and her family going through daily routines like getting ready for school and then the imminent silence in 1942. I imagine there are a great number of stories that each wall and corner of this 1912 house may hold. I wonder if the Marpole railroad tracks along the nearby Arbutus Trail which may have led to train stations crammed with Japanese-Canadians clinging on to their wares, anxiety in the air, trying to make sense of their lost livelihoods and sense of dignity.
Being at the Historic Joy Kogawa House aligns with my interests in social justice education, community-building, and, undoubtedly, writing. And besides these, let’s face it. Vancouver is gorgeous in the summertime. (The last time I was here it was a chilly damp December in the early 2000s.) I have taken the gondola and chairlift up to Whistler and Blackcomb peaks, swum in the Kitsilano saltwater pool, watched the steam pour from the Gastown clock, visited the Starbucks roastery and Pike Place Market in Seattle, marveled at the effortless diversity of leaves, trees, and vibrant flowers each day. I am finding my way in this great city.