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Joy Kogawa

Joy Kogawa

Hastings St. & Renfrew St., Hastings Park

  • Author: Britt S. Baker
  • Date Posted: Jul 1, 2015
  • Category:
  • Address: Plaque is on lamppost at northeast corner of Renfrew St. & Hastings St.
Joy Kogawa

Photo credit: Province of B.C.


Location: Plaque is on lamppost at northeast corner of Renfrew St. & Hastings St.

Joy Nozomi Kogawa, (nee Nakayama) was born in Vancouver in 1935. She chronicles the internment experience of her family and other Japanese Canadians in Obasan (1981). The novel recalls how the resolute endurance of the narrator’s aunt, Obasan, protected the little girl during the internment years.

‘You have to remember,’ Aunt Emily said. ‘You are your history. If you cut any of it off you’re an amputee. Don’t deny your past. Remember everything.’

From Obasan
Joy Kogawa was not incarcerated in Hastings Park, but was inspired by the letters of Muriel Kitagawa, whose words are immortalized through the voice of Emily Kato in Obasan: “…They say the crowding, the noise, the confusion is chaos. Mothers are prostrate in nervous exhaustion — the babies crying endlessly — the fathers torn from them without farewell — Everyone crammed into two buildings like so many pigs — children taken out of school with no provision for future education…” Joy Kogawa’s family was uprooted to Slocan and later to Coaldale, Alberta. She became a school teacher, writer and poet. She completed six volumes of poetry and wrote two additional novels, Itsuka/Emily Kato and The Rain Ascends, and two children’s books, Naomi’s Road and Naomi’s Tree. Joy Kogawa fought alongside others for the 1988 Federal government apology and symbolic reparation for unjust treatment. Her childhood home in Marpole, which runs tours and author residencies, is now designated the Historic Joy Kogawa House.

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Joy Kogawa was not incarcerated in Hastings Park, but was inspired by the letters of Muriel Kitagawa, whose words are immortalized through the voice of Emily Kato in Obasan: “…They say the crowding, the noise, the confusion is chaos. Mothers are prostrate in nervous exhaustion — the babies crying endlessly — the fathers torn from them without farewell — Everyone crammed into two buildings like so many pigs — children taken out of school with no provision for future education…” Joy Kogawa’s family was uprooted to Slocan and later to Coaldale, Alberta. She became a school teacher, writer and poet. She completed six volumes of poetry and wrote two additional novels, Itsuka/Emily Kato and The Rain Ascends, and two children’s books, Naomi’s Road and Naomi’s Tree. Joy Kogawa fought alongside others for the 1988 Federal government apology and symbolic reparation for unjust treatment. Her childhood home in Marpole, which runs tours and author residencies, is now designated the Historic Joy Kogawa House.

‘You have to remember,’ Aunt Emily said. ‘You are your history. If you cut any of it off you’re an amputee. Don’t deny your past. Remember everything.’

From Obasan

 

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Learn more about Joy Kogawa at ABC Bookworld