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Janis Harper is a BC singer-songwriter, writer, and actor. She also taught writing, literature, editing, and communications at university and college levels in and around Vancouver for many years (mainly at Simon Fraser University and Douglas College), before becoming an expressive arts therapist in private practice. (For more about her therapy practice, Rediscovery Through Expressive Arts Therapy, click on the peacock feather icon above or go to http://rediscovery.me). Originally from Vancouver, Janis now calls Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island, her home.
Janis is a BC singer-songwriter in the lyrical folk-roots tradition. She has been writing songs and playing guitar since she was 9 years old, and when she was 12, she played her original songs on the iconic Kitsilano Showboat and for community events in Vancouver. At 19, Janis was the house musical entertainer at the Sri Galaxy pub in Penang, Malaysia, and later performed on small stages in Sydney, Australia. By this time she had incorporated the Appalachian mountain dulcimer into her repertoire, having been taught by Rick Scott of Pied Pumkin how to play it in his special style. In her late twenties, she performed at Mac’s bar in Hiroshima, Japan, and some of this music is caught live on her first full-length recording (“Letters From Home,” audio tape, 1990). Her Vancouver duo, The Beautiful Losers (with the late great Neal Foisy), featured at coffee houses in the 2000’s. She has also performed in bars, restaurants, and resorts in Palolem and Agonda, Goa, India, including regular house gigs at the upscale H2O Agonda resort and the very popular Fusion bar. She can be seen performing originals and covers on small stages in BC with her duo partner Jane Kalmakoff on accordion and harmony vocals.
“Better This Way” (11 tracks) is a folk-roots album with songs that don’t all sound the same. “This is songcraft at its best: Harper’s lyrics sear into your heart, carried on melodic structures as natural as they come.” Although “Better This Way” is her first CD (2015 release), it is really a retrospective album because it brings together an eclectic selection of songs written and performed over Janis Harper’s long career as a singer-songwriter.
Janis has a Master’s degree in composition theory and rhetoric, and taught writing (academic, business, and practical) for many years in college and university. She has published journalism and scholarship, worked as a professional editor, and seen her playwriting produced. She co-founded two local print periodicals, and her literary prose and poetry have appeared widely in magazines, literary journals, and anthologies, including The Red Wheelbarrow Review, Litro, Ars Medica, subTerrain, Reader’s Digest, Room, CV 2, Tessera, and Lost on Purpose: Women in the City (Avalon/Seal Press, 2005). Her first anthology of creative nonfiction, Body Breakdowns: Tales of Illness and Recovery (Anvil Press, 2007), was selected as “Editor’s Choice” in the September 2010 Reader’s Digest magazine, where it enjoyed a 26-page excerpt, and has been used as a text in several university and college courses. Her anthology of travel memoirs, which she also conceived, edited, and wrote six pieces for, Emails from India: Women Write Home (Seraphim Editions, 2013), is Janis’s love letter to India. She has presented her work across Canada, in the US, and at the 2014 Goa Arts and Literary Festival (GALF) in India (www.goaartlitfest.com).
In recent years, Janis’s writing could be described as “literary philosophy.” Her philosophical-spiritual novel, Jonas and The Mountain: A Metaphysical Love Story, is in the submission stage, as is a hybrid essay-poetry collection about non-dualism, identity, and enlightenment, When Your Head Cracks Open You Stop. She is currently working on a poetry manuscript, Sounding Socrates (Post-Socratic Dialogues). An essay from her essay-poetry collection, re-titled “Knowing Death,” is in the inaugural (Summer 2020) issue of the online journal The Red Wheelbarrow Review. A literary podcast of her piece, “Dear Guruji,” read by herself and from the same collection, is in the online UK magazine, Litro, and “Another Way to Awaken” is in The Closed Eye Open journal. Some of Janis’s work in literary print journals and anthologies may also be found online, in addition to reviews of her books, etc. For example, her creative nonfiction piece “The Good Patient” may be found in the Ars Medica archives, and her story “What Happened” can be found online in the literary journal Tessera‘s archives. Click here for the Tessera link. What Happened. Tessera. Vol.21
Having had a mother (Lily Harper) who helped pioneer professional theatre in Vancouver as a prominent leading lady on the stage (and CBC radio and TV), Janis grew up with theatre. She eventually found her way onto stages in independent theatre productions, and worked for a time for Character Creations, improvising client-social worker situations for the professional development of social workers. She has been trained for theatre and film/TV in various courses and workshops in Vancouver (Carousel Theatre School, Green Thumb Players, Mark Brandon’s Master Class, and others) and has acted on stages across Vancouver, the Lower Mainland, and BC. She has had leading and ensemble roles in “The Black Bonspiel of Wullie MacCrimmon” (Presentation House), “Ladies Who Lunch” (Metro Theatre), “A Rainbow of Sins” (The Cultch), “The Inspector General” (Theatre in the Raw), “Top Girls” (Theatre in the Raw), “12 Angry Jurors” (Theatre in the Raw), “Enter Laughing” (Theatre in the Raw), “West End Stories” (Theatre Positive), and “She’ll to the Wars” (New Play Festival), among others. Reviews of Janis’s acting may be found online. Also available online is the 2009 Hyundai TV commercial “i10 Hyundai Dreams” in which she is a prominent extra acting alongside the famous international movie star, Sharukh Khan, filmed in a Bollywood studio in Mumbai, India.