Wanda John-Kehewin had a goal when she entered The Writers Studio: to write with raw honesty. By speaking her truth, she would give people like her mother a voice and communicate the devastating effects of the colonization of First Nations people.
Today, two years after graduating from the Studio, a published book of poetry suggests that she’s accomplished what she set out to do.
In her book, called In the Dog House, which John-Kehewin describes as a “healing journey,” she uses her own pain and the pain of others to create understanding around the hardships that First Nations people faced. Her poems explore sensitive topics like alcohol addiction, abandonment, religion, and sexual abuse.
John-Kehewin has always been a writer. The first toys she remembers are a pencil and paper, and throughout her life, she’s used writing as a way to process her experiences and understand her pain.
A few years ago, she began to wonder about taking her writing further. She’d shared her work at readings and published a few magazine pieces, but could she write as a career? A reading by Betsy Warland, a local author, gave her an opportunity to find out.
One of Warland’s students handed John-Kehewin a pamphlet for The Writer’s Studio, a creative writing program at SFU that Warland used to direct. John-Kehewin was immediately intrigued, but there was one problem: she had only ten days to produce the 20 pieces of writing she needed to apply. Amazingly, she did it—and was accepted. She completed the program in 2011.
SFU creative writing program took John-Kehewin's work to the next level
During her time in The Writer’s Studio, John-Kehewin took what she describes as her “therapeutic journal writing” to the next level.