Kogawa, World Literatures in English
An Interview with Joy Kogawa
Joy Kogawa Talks to Karlyn Koh: The Heart-of-the-Matter Questions." The Other Woman: Women of Colour in Contemporary Canadian Literature. Ed. Makeda Silvera. Toronto: Black Women and Women of Colour P, 1995. 19-41.

Her writing and Ethnic identity  20
Early stage

. . .in the very first years when I was publishing [1960s] I was like the other people of my generation--I had virtually no consciousness, except in a negative sense, of Japaneseness. I would see myself as white. I wrote as a white person. I wrote, in fact, in a male voice initially. In that sense I was a mimic, I read and I wrote what I read.

p. 21--her poetry

the struggles that I had were struggles with questions of love and evil and death, and those are universal questions, so I didn't have any particular consciousness, again then, of race. I didn't associate my suffering as the suffering of a person who was a miniority human being. I simply attached it to all suffering.

the writing of Obasan
But even at that point, I was not thinking particularly of writing about Japanese-Canadians, I was simply writing out of my own life and writing it in some of the way I wrote poetry. . . . When I was at the Archives, though, in Ottawa, that's when I became aware of another voice that I was not conscious of being within me--Muriel Kitagawa's voice. To me, it was a voice from the outside, one that I had never encountered, and one that I could only report on. So Aunt Emily's voice was always outside of me throughout the entire writing of Obasan.

. . . In what I'm writing now the greyness and the fog and the confusion of not knowing very clearly can be a way to survive within a situation where the pain is too great, where the denial is necessary in order not to be blinded by the truth of the sun. So these days I'm doing a much more in-depth exploration of the fog, the mist, the confusion. I've discovered a lot of things. One of the things, I guess, is (laughter) --it's an old adage--but ignorance can be bliss. Not knowing can be a way in which one not just survives but thrives.

the two novels and two voices 30-31

. . . after writing Obasan and in a way being forced into public situations, the Naomi character that was within me, who basically could not talk, and which is really the way I used to be, got more and more transformed, and the Aunt Emily voice came out. I found myself being more like Aunt Emily. And I think in Itsuka I was much more like Emily, but since I was writing in Naomi's voice, I had a problem because I didn't want Naomi to be transformed too suddenly. I ddin't know how to do that anyway because she didn't have a parallel experience to mine. I had had a public kind of attention that helped me to change and Naomi didn't have that. So Naomi had to remain the way that she was, more or less, although she could be changed a little bit through the redress activity. . . It was just that there was a stroy I had lived through, and I couldn't write about it while I was living through it.

knowledge and ignorance 38

...when you don't know what you don't know, it's not so bad. When you're in denial you can go on with your life--it's a great survival tactic, . . .And I look back and i see that I have lived my life in denial and that's what I write about. It enables me to thrive to the extent that I did.

But the fog is denial, the fog is surviving.. . .it keeps us safe, it keeps the sun from coming through and destroying us. The sun is like the truth. I mean the truth is waht enables things to grow.

But too much of it kills us. And so although one wants the sun, one also--...--puts up the show that protects us, that's denial. . . .You have to tear it away and that's the hard part. It means going in directly to the sun and/or into the flame and surviving that. . . .So that's what you do when you're no longer in denial: you go rushing into the thing, you get to the safe place.