Eaton Hamilton

the problem with being trans is cis people. The problem with being queer is straight people. The problem with being disabled is abled people. The problem with being Black is white people. In other words, prejudice.

Tag: Shut Up and Write

Shut Up and Write sessions in Canada: do you have a location to share?


I’m sitting in the library on a sunny Tuesday in Shut Up and Write session. SUAW sessions originally formed in San Francisco before being brought to Canada by Tom Cho when he was writer-in-residence at Kogawa House in Vancouver. I kept them going after Tom moved to Toronto, and even though I later moved away from the city, they are still on-going Wednesday mornings in central Vancouver. There’s a FB page. Here we do them in person Tuesdays, but we’ve added several remote sessions most weeks, where one writes alone at home with one of us sending along the timing using FB message. Using the Pomodoro Method we write with each other for 25 quiet minutes, break for 5, and repeat three times before taking a 20-minute break. At the end of that, we do another 2 25-min sessions.

For someone like me who writes seven days a week, SUAW is a terrific means to cut off hours and write efficiently. Check to see if there’s a SUAW where you live, and if there isn’t, start one! Download a timer like Focus Keeper, find a location, invite folks and you’re ready to go!


Shut Up and Write, Salt Spring Island


photo by Lee Massey

L-R:  Jane Eaton Hamilton, Sophia Faria, Kat Kosiancic, Gail Meyer, Derek Capitaine, Mary Rose Maclachlan.

Shut Up and Write sessions have become an enduring part of BC culture since AU writers Jackie Wykes and Tom Cho brought them to Vancouver during their writers-in-residency stint at Historic Joy Kogawa House. They now run at Artigiano Café on Main and 24 Wed from 2-5 and will soon be offered through VPL as well. Here on Salt Spring, a group now assembles and writes together for 3 hours in 25-minute stints with breaks. People say they get a lot accomplished. I co-host with Salt Spring Island Public Library, a beautiful and generous facility that’s offered us writing space 3-4 times a week. You can find out more about the sessions in Vancouver or on Salt Spring by joining the FB pages at Shut Up and Write Vancouver and Shut Up and Write Salt Spring Island.



The Rain Ascends by Joy Kogawa

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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.


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

Shut Up and Write

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photo: Tom Cho, 2015

Tom Cho and Jackie Wykes have brought Shut Up and Write back to Vancouver! (I didn’t even know it pre-existed here…) They are the writers-in-residency at Kogawa House, and most Sundays until the end of the year, they’ll be hosting an afternoon writing session. All are welcome to join–they’re putting up a FB page for it.

One thing I learned today? Unlike a lot of young people now, I write by myself and haven’t done much co-writing however defined. Today I understood that I usually write out loud, going over dialogue for my characters, hearing fumbles, arguing with myself about construction, reading text aloud. Staying silent was about as weird as writing without internet. And I also understood that I’m usually kinetic while I write, scratching my head, tapping my fingers etc. Best thing? Socializing and getting so much work done so quickly. 5000 words edited. Worst thing? My body acting up due to being hit by a fire truck recently.

Another (though coincidental because I just brought the current project) weirdness was that ‘The Lost Boy,’ the novel I’m working on, takes place in an internment camp during WWII. Naturally Kogawa House would be the perfect place to work on it, as Tom Cho noted. And I’d completely forgotten Joy Kogawa donated an “artwork” I made for her during our time in Sex, Death and Madness, our then-writing group, to the house, or that I’d donated Joy K’s dad’s 1904 Encyclopedia Brittanica set, minus one volume–those books spent many years in my dining room up on the top of bookshelves gathering dust. I always hoped the kids would want to use them for school projects, but they pronounced them anachronistic.

Best things? Meeting everyone and getting so much work done.

Why I Write

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Agni, so great. Jeffrey Tomson, nice job on this. Good reminders for Vancouverites headed to Shut Up and Write at Kogawa House on the weekend.


Shut Up and Write

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