Jane Eaton Hamilton

"At the bottom of the box is hope." – Ellis Avery.

Tag: Historic Joy Kogawa House

Summer

buckJEH2016

Photo: Jane Eaton Hamilton, 2016

It’s a warm day on Salt Spring Island with my ailing, aged cat, where, for the most part, summer never came. These days, I stay in a ’68 school bus under a double roof that ensures it stays dark and no sun reaches it (both a loss and a gain, depending). The bus is both sanctuary and trial–come dark, rodent armies are let loose, and, alas, the cat dispatched a baby shrew. At first, I banged the walls for deterrence but lately I’ve noticed that human voices are more effective–leaving a TV running might convince them, if I had one. The cat seems to really love it here, though she’s alone a lot–she doesn’t have this kind of exterior access at home. Here, I see Puppy flopped in the sun having a dust bath; she sprawls across the steps; she curls up under a shrub or in the shade of the bamboo. I see her stalk dragonflies. Though there are no beasts to speak of, but something treed her on top of the metal outhouse roof last week on a day I was gone ten hours.

It was a fairly intense June. I did a writer’s residency at Historic Joy Kogawa House and ran near daily Shut Up and Write sessions. My novel WEEKEND came out to some hoopla. I co-hosted a launch at Kogawa House, had dental surgery, and befriended some crows in a particularly meaningful way.

102 Latinx and black people were shot in Orlando, 49 of them fatally, and I, like most queers, was crushed. Every one of us had to some degree cut our teeth in nightclubs like Pulse, and some of us had personal ties to the victims, to Pulse, to Orlando, to Florida. We grieved and still grieve.

I could not work out how to hold this brutality next to my personal joys.

At the end of June, I travelled to Ontario to blitz through a book tour in Toronto, Cobourg, Peterborough and Ottawa, meeting a lot of writers whose work has been important to me, and convivial, welcoming audience members, and taking in Toronto Pride. There was a lot of scooting from town to town (on trains, on which I get quite ill) and loads of bad eating. Meeting Facebook friends IRL was a great thrill–and seeing old friends likewise.

I’m here to help my child with her children. I spend long hours at her cabin pitching in. The big girl is a year and a half; the little one will be four months soon. They are what babies and children are–all-consuming, loud, messy, demanding, adorable, persnickety, touching, sweet. I don’t have any stamina. Ever since I had open heart surgery I fatigue in all the usual, draining ways, but also suddenly, in a second, with the kind of overwhelming fatigue that greets a post-surgical patient up walking for the first time.

But everything people say about grandparenting is true–one can’t get enough.

My older granddaughter has acute hearing. Out-of-doors, she says, “Wazat wazat wazat?” She’s made me understand I regularly tune most of the world’s noises out. And jiminy, there are a lot! Now I hear planes, dragonflies, bees, hummingbirds, sawing, trucks, cars, the croak of a great blue heron, tree frogs, thrushes, robins, chickadees. Sometimes, a pileated woodpecker chortles. Along the driveway, fledgling flickers try out their calls. In the trees, crows and ravens tell their stories. Crickets chirrup and tree frogs complain.

What do I hear now? The wooden bus door slapped shut, knocking, the little metal latch jangling. The slurp of my coffee. The cat’s purr. The riffle of the breeze through the maple leaves. The hum of electricity. My spoon against my ceramic bowl of yogurt and Granny Smith apple. The computer keys. The fan.

Just now, from bed, I heard a loud buzz and looked up to a hummingbird in front of me. She flitted around a bit, hovered near a window, then turned tail and flew back outside.

Launch!

WEEKEND’s a go, babios.

 

Jane and Susan Safyan June 2016

Jane Eaton Hamilton and Susan Safyan, editor, launching WEEKEND June 2016

 

-1

S’mores and more…

-14

Even gluten free s’mores…

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 11.55.51 AM

-10

A lovely evening for a low-key, cottage-y outdoor launch at Historic Joy Kogawa House where I am writer-in-residence. Perfect weather.

-11

-9

-8

-5

Launch Anne and Jane 2016

-3

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 11.57.58 AM

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 11.58.25 AM

Anne Fleming reading

Anne Fleming reading from POEMW.

-2

 

Meg+Mom2016

Me with my kid, Meghann.

peonies

 

 

 

WEEKENDandPOEMWLaunch_Evite2

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 5.32.22 PM

Publication Day!

Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 1.13.02 PM

Screen Shot 2016-04-23 at 6.26.17 PM

Always an exciting day for a writer–publication day when we first see our new book! WEEKEND is out! I’m so happy to be launching at Historic Joy Kogawa House, where I’ll be writer-in-residence, on June 6. My special guest is author Anne Fleming and, yes, their new poetry book POEMW and their banjo, which I hear will be plunking out some campfire songs. Sharpen your marshmallow sticks, kids. Price of admission is a ghost story. Here’s hoping somebody will tell one about the ghosts of frogs we pithed in high school!

WEEKEND, the launch! POEMW, the celebration!

Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 1.13.02 PM

Screen Shot 2016-04-23 at 6.26.17 PM

Bring your queer selves out to Historic Joy Kogawa House June 6, 2016, to help Jane Eaton Hamilton, the writer-in-residence, celebrate the launch of their first novel, WEEKEND, and Anne Fleming celebrate their first collection of poetry, POEMW!

All these firsts!

I’ve heard tell there might be s’mores on offer, and I know for sure Anne is going to take to her banjo for some campfire songs. Special MEC gift certificate draw for campers who buy books. Bring your guitars, banjos and a ghost story!

The Rain Ascends by Joy Kogawa

Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 2.00.58 AM

This haunting, elegiac novel by famed novelist Joy Kogawa, author of “Obasan,” pulls us into the world and the heart of a middle-aged woman learning that her beloved but aged father, an Anglican priest, has been a pedophile with 300 male victims. What is the capacity of one human heart? Can a lifetime of her father’s familial tenderness and community good deeds co-exist with his malicious, malignant sexuality?

“The Rain Ascends” is the story of the torment of one woman’s soul told in rendering, poetic language.

Joy Kogawa and I are friends. I briefly knew her father and had his Encyclopedia Brittanicas, 1904 edition, on my shelves for many years. We shared a long-lasting writing group during the years she was writing “The Rain Ascends.” Notwithstanding that, and the historical importance of her masterwork “Obasan,” I’ve always believed “The Rain Ascends” is Kogawa’s most brilliant work.

Today, after attending a “Shut Up and Write” session at Historic Joy Kogawa House on the weekend, I picked the novel up 20 years after first reading it to find it easily measured up to my original stunned appreciation.

Until last weekend, I’d been to Kogawa House only once before, but, unable to tolerate the fact that Joy’s dad had lived and likely abused children there, I left quickly; this visit I stayed and wrote about the feelings that arose in me as someone well acquainted with the harms of child rape.

Notes:

I understand Joy Kogawa has revised “The Rain Ascends” since the edition was published.

Joy Kogawa has since spoken to the press and her community about her father’s pedophilia. The Anglican Church, this year, offered an apology to the victims of his many crimes.

Historic Joy Kogawa House

%d bloggers like this: