Monthly Archives: January 2009

Historic Joy Kogawa House: Writer in Residence – Call for Expressions of Interest

Historic Joy Kogawa House will host a resident author between April 1 and
June 30, 2010, as part of its writer-in-residence program. The aims of the
residency are to foster greater appreciation for Canadian writing within the
Metro Vancouver community, offer members of the community an opportunity to
interact with the resident author, and to provide the space, time and
resources for a Canadian author to write.

The writer-in-residence will provide advice to emerging and other writers
through one-to-one consultations, seminars and school visits. This full-time
position (35 hours per week) requires 25 percent of the author’s time be
spent on public programs or projects, leaving 75 percent of the work week
available for creative writing.

Applicants are encouraged to identify innovative ways their residency would
foster an appreciation for Canadian writing and involve communities not
typically exposed to Canadian literature.

a.. Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada
b.. Minimum of one critically well-received title published
professionally, including a complete work of fiction, short stories, poetry,
drama, or literary non-fiction
c.. Professional teaching or public speaking experience
d.. Comfortable and willing to engage with the public one-on-one and in
group settings
a.. Active participant in the writing community
b.. In the early working stage of a new writing project intended for
book-length publication

a.. $2500 per month, plus free accommodation valued at $1500 per month
b.. Assistance available for travel expenses

Expressions of interest must include 1) a cover letter; 2) a resume with a
history of literary publications, and previous experiences teaching,
conducting writing programs, and facilitating workshops or other forms of
public presentation; 3) contact information for three references; and 4) a
20- to 30-page sample of recent writing along with reviews of earlier works.

Once a short-list of candidates has been determined, the selection committee
will request three letters of reference from each of the short-listed

Application Deadline
a.. Completed applications must be received by midnight (PST) on February
1, 2009
b.. Applications can be mailed, faxed, or e-mailed as a Word document.

Author Residency Selection Committee

c/o Ann-Marie Metten

Historic Joy Kogawa House

1450 West 64th Avenue

Vancouver, BC V6P 2N4
E-mail :

Fax : 604.263-6581

Terms of employment are based on Canada Council guidelines.This position and
length of term are subject to Canada Council funding.

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Sundance Ranch 09

Back in the Saddle 09

Back in the Saddle 09

Jen and I are going back to Sundance Ranch this spring and this time we are taking our friends along. Kathleen is coming from Toronto and Kate from London. Jen and I think we might take some riding lessons before we go, so we won’t be in such pain after a few days riding the range.

This will be our second visit and I think it might become a yearly event. I hope so, anyway. Even though our vacation is months away, I am already excited and even though we booked early, the rooms are filling up. I’m not usually this organized, but it paid off — I got an early bird discount — gotta be the first time that has ever happened to me.


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Update on Miss Julie at the Playhouse

I took my daughter to see Miss Julie last night. It is a one act play, about an hour and a half long and no intermission. From the moment the play opened until the end, we were both riveted by the unfolding story, the intensity of the plot and the ability of the three actors to transport us back in time to a world even more tainted by inequities between gender and race than the one we live in today.

I was thrilled to get the opportunity to talk at some length with the Director and Playwright, Stephen Sachs. So glad I didn’t read his bio first or I would have been totally intimidated by his accomplishments as a creator and would not have approached him at all. Luckily, I didn’t give it a second thought when he mentioned being from the City of Angels and we had a long chat about the sensibilities in his characters so evident in his translation of this play.

I told him all about the Black American Migration from California to Victoria and Saltspring Island, and like everyone else I meet, he was unaware but fascinated by this story – the story that The Freedom of Jenny is based on. Who knows, perhaps one day he’d like to turn this incredible piece of our shared history into a stage production? And if he doesn’t it was still incredible to be able to exchange ideas with him.

All that schmoozing can get to you after a while, but it seemed to me that Stephen Sachs was pleased by the enthusiasm of the audience and somewhat excited about an early morning departure back to the land of sunshine, palm trees and movie star politicians.

Loved to see the playhouse house full. It’s great to be surrounded by people who support the arts. Do your bit. See the play.

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Spoken World Workshop for Teens in Vancouver and Lower Mainland

The Vancouver International Writers Festival and the Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad present two great events:

Spoken World
Spoken word stars from three continents. Featuring Regie Cabico (US), Morganics (AUS), Lemn Sissay (UK) and Kinnie Starr (CAN) and the improvised grooves of Sal Ferreras and his band, Poetic License. Regie Cabico won the 1993 Nuyorican Poets Cafe Grand Slam and top prize in three National Poetry Slams. Morganics is an award-winning Sydney based hip hop artist, performer and director. Lemn Sissay is a performer and playwright and the author of four poetry collections. Kinnie Starr has produced four critically acclaimed records and was nominated for a Juno Award for New Artist of the Year.

7:30 pm February 18 & 20
Performance Works
1218 Cartwright Street, Vancouver

Tickets: $20/$18 students & seniors (Vancouver Tix surcharges will apply). Tickets available through Vancouver Tix: 604.629.8849 or online. More information: Writersfest special events

Spoken World workshop
A one day spoken word workshop for students in grades 9 – 12 with Regie Cabico, Morganics, Lemn Sissay and Kinnie Starr.
9 – 4:30 pm, Saturday February 21
$35 (lunch included)
Register today!
Registration: 604 681 6330

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Margriet Ruurs’ on Jenny

Positive peer reviews always make me feel really great about being a writer, so I was thrilled when Margriets Ruurs’ posted her thoughts on The Freedom of Jenny on her blog.

It isn’t always easy for writers to get their books reviewed in traditional media in Canada. I have been lucky in that most of my novels, for better or for worse have received attention from newspapers and magazines across Canada and I am thankful for that. Still, when a respected and talented writer like Ruurs recommends one of my books it is especially satisfying.

I have a big smile on my face today!

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Miss Julie — Freedom Summer

Tomorrow night The Vancouver Playhouse’s latest performance “Miss Julie: Freedom Summer” opens and I am going to attend with my daughter. On these long dark days of winter when we all are stricken with cabin fever, why not step away from the TV/cooking dinner or whatever other mundane distraction you’ve been employing to forget about the cold and go and soak up some live theatre.

Interested? Here’s a little info about the play:

Max Reimer, Artistic Managing Director
A new version by Stephen Sachs, from the play by August Strindberg
Directed by Stephen Sachs
Starring Caroline Cave, Kevin Hanchard, and Raven Dauda
A co-production with The Canadian Stage Company

This play promises to be engaging from the second the curtain rises. “Critics Choice: The tension in the original – in which a young, upper-class woman and her servant sexually cross the class divide – is multiplied by adding the racial divide. Miss Julie is white, and the servant is her father’s black chauffeur. For American audiences, the play is much more harrowing than usual.” Los Angeles City-Beat

Support other creators. Go see a live performance. You won’t regret it.

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OMG — Gmail Has Crashed

I have no less than five email accounts and they are all gmail. For some reason I have always believed gmail to be crash-proof. I have been proven wrong…I can’t access any of my accounts or more importantly, my docs and this makes me realize how vulnerable I am. Honestly, if gmail was down for days on end, I couldn’t work. What do the rest of you gmailers use to back up your gmail?

If I wanted to dominate the world, I’d hack into gmail and sit back and laugh while global confusion ensues. Somehow this makes more sense than “Old Fashioned War.”Spiralling down


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Snow Car You Tube — Bet this is a Vancouver Scene — Funny

Another reason why it is better to take transit or walk when it snows on the Wet Coast.

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Writing Life

Now that Christmas is behind me, I am back to the writing life and happy to be here again. I have a few projects on the go besides my work as an editor at (always looking for writers, by the way). Besides working on my new book, I am writing a treatment for The Freedom of Jenny. I have never done this before and have found the Internet to be really useful in providing tips on how to create this document. I have completed the first draft, and will put it down for a few days before reworking it. If you are also working on a treatment, check out Storm Force Pictures — found it to be intuitive and clear in its instructions.

The biggest problem for me is that I feel as if I am skipping over so many details — both historical and those integral to the book. I suppose a treatment is just a snapshot of the characters, plot and themes, but as the original author of the story, it is difficult to decide what to include and what to leave out. I am only allowed ten pages, so I have to be very specific in what I think will be important to the producer and what will not. I think I might include a historical time line, just to keep the story in context. I am not sure if this is done or not, but I really think it will help those less familiar with African-American history understand why the characters behave the way they do.

Because a script writer will eventually be the one developing the story, I really want him or her to have a full understanding of the historical context. I am not sure if I will ever have the chance to meet with the scriptwriter, but if I do, then I can write less and engage in more of a verbal exchange. This is all new to me, but I am loving the writing.

As a writer with more than one project on the go, one of my biggest challenges is how to divide up my time so that each project gets the attention needed. I have tried to do this in two hour segments, given that I have approx six hours a day to work with, but this method does not work well for me at all. The problem is, once I really sink my teeth into something, I find it impossible to switch gears. Rather than forcing it, I plan to continue to give my mornings to editorial work and my afternoons to working on my novel, doing research and other writing. If the words are flowing, I will stick with that project, but when I get blocked, I’ll move on to something else. I think this will work better than the two hour increments, but if it doesn’t I will try something else. Because I have more work this year than I used to, I have to become more organized and avoid burnout.

And what will I do for distraction? Well, as long as there is still snow on the ground, I think I will focus on Rock Band, but I look forward to walking on the beach or in the woods again. Never underestimate the importance of a good creative break!

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