Asian Heritage Month in Canada

May 10, 2021

Here, at CanLit, we are proud of all the opportunities we’ve had to promote Asian Canadian Literature. In recognition of Asian Heritage Month, we’ve put together a post that highlights Asian-Canadian experience in Canada.
Having published many critical articles and special editions on a variety of topics that demonstrate the contributions Asian Canadians have made to Canadian culture, we know there are still many ways we need to continue to support, amplify, and up-lift their voices in the face of anti-Asian racism. We hope this post offers a resource for individuals to use to help them learn more about the context of Asian “Canadianess” in Canada and Canadian literature. 
From our archives:
A snapshot of the “multiculturalism” of the 1980s, George Woodcock reviews M.G.Vassanji’s edited critical editions on South Asian identity alongside Bharati Mukherjerr’s Darkness in “Mulberry Bush.” You can download the full issue here. If you’d like to find a variety of material on Asian Canadian literature, you we have a link for you! You can search “Asian Canadian” on our website to discover more.
In our special edition, “Asian Canadian Studies” (2008), we feature the forum “Asian Canadian Studies: Unfinished Projects,” which includes contributions by many well-known authors in the field, such as Chris Lee, Guy Beauregard, Iyko Day, and Roy Miki. And don’t forget the poetry: this issue showcases Asian Canadian poets.
In “Asian Canadian Critique Beyond the Nation” (2015), guest editors Christine Kim and Christopher Lee describe how the categories of South and East Asian Canadians “may be misleading, incomplete, or even complicit in histories of racism” (6). The issue challenges readers to reconsider how Canada defines minority categorization.
Finally (though, there’s much more in our archives), we’ve recently published issue #240 on “Decolonial (Re)Visions of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror” (2020). This special edition, edited by Lou Cornum and Maureen Moynagh, delves into the potential for genre fiction to resist master narratives and shift the conversation. Trust us, it’s worth the read! Purchase your digital copy on our website or hit up your local library for a subscription. 
And the work continues.
From all of us here at Canadian Literature, may you have a thoughtful and thought-provoking Asian Heritage Month.

Verse Forward 2: Poetry on the Front Lines

May 1, 2021

Verse Forward dot Event brite dot C A








We are very excited to announce the second iteration of our Verse Forward poetry reading series!

Join us May 25th at 4:30 pm PDT for a conversation with award-winning poets Liz Howard, Larissa Lai, and Canisia Lubrin.

Following their conversation with emcee Phinder Dulai, the poets will read from their latest books plus share a new Canadian Literature exclusive poem. We’ll wrap up the evening with an audience Q & A. We hope to see you there!

Verse Forward: Poetry on the Front Lines is a new Canadian Literature poetry reading series featuring diverse poets speaking to the urgent themes of home, race, identity, and the environment we live in.

Book your tickets at:


National Poetry Month at CanLit

April 28, 2021

As the “cruelest month” winds down, we’re looking towards poetry for some solace. We are 459 days into the pandemic but have found comfort in the little things.

Many of us have experienced the urge to crawl “into / the deepest of basements, / pressed in by imagination’s // limits,” as Kevin Spenst writes in “The Geology of a Moment” or watch as “Spring goes on without us,” envisioning, as Isabella Wang does, that “It’s getting harder… Can’t tell in this night, where we end, / and the universe begins” (“Hindsight“), where “…you can’t help / but inhale because you wonder how / suffering could have a smell” (from Camille Lendor’s “TTC“). But, we want to resist complacency, the spaces “Where desire’s falling flat and stays so” (uttered on a cooling night in John Barton’s “What We Live For“).

Yet, as Fred Wah’s “Basalt” suggests, the world is constantly in a state of regeneration:

way flow talks that little hidden
fender of itself to measure whatever’s
in the way not a mistake just a fissure
an isolated vent where the water will
find around the rocks intentional waves
an invert floor of floating worlds
another culvert for an old old story

And, as we look towards the future, we seek support, perhaps wondering “…who will / teach us what to call this new feeling?” as Jillian Christmas asks in “a mouth full of useless words” (a fitting title for a poem published during the pandemic?).

Poetry whispers “Romantic or rhapsodic adventures” (from Yuan Changming’s “By Definition of Preposition“) to us, eliciting grins and knowing glances. The days blur together, causing us to watch how, as the narrator in Bill Howell’s “Further Surveillance” utters, the “Polished sand falls through / an ageless hourglass.” Poetry reminds us of what it means to “be young and type lines / on a discarded typewriter” (states the afternoon occupant in Jen Currin’s “The Local“) or to reminisce about the hum of “Garden pinwheels” (as Kenneth Sherman does in “A Walk Along Lakeshore Drive“).

No doubt, during National Poetry month 2021, we need poetry more than ever. Whether it’s to escape or commune in the shared experiences of the devastation the pandemic continues to cause. In 2020, we looked to the words of the Academic of American Poets–“we can rely on poems to offer wisdom, uplifting ideas, and language that prompts reflection that can help us slow down and center mentally, emotionally, spiritually”–and this year, the words still ring true.

From all of us here at Canadian Literature, we wish you a thoughtful and uplifting National Poetry Month.

Laurie McNeill wins 2021 Killam Teaching Prize

April 13, 2021

Congratulations to UBC Department of English’s Laurie McNeill for winning this year’s Killam Teaching Prize!

McNeill is a long time reviewer and contributor to Canadian Literature with a specialization in life narratives and auto/biography. We are pleased to feature some of her writing to celebrate this occasion.

In our issue on Literature and War, McNeill looks at an author’s self awareness—“how her narrative must disappoint, describing a time marked above all by boredom instead of heroics, ‘discomfort’ instead of real pain.” Read her full article “Preforming Genres: Peggy Abkhazi’s A Curious Care and Diaries of War” by downloading the full issue here.

Our special issue on Auto/biography features McNeill’s book reviews entitled “Recovering Women’s Lives” and “Subjects of Empire.” Download the full issue here.

The breadth of McNeill’s knowledge of Canadian life writing and auto/biography is reflected in her reviews published in our special issue on Archives and History.

In her review “Rethinking the Diary,” McNeill writes, “Lejeune’s scholarship has been instrumental in revising such intellectual snobbery (including his own, as he readily admits).” Read the full issue here.

Cheers to a marvellous scholar and professor!

New Issue: Emerging Scholars, Redux #242

March 18, 2021

We are pleased to announce the arrival of Canadian Literature, Issue 242, Emerging Scholars, Redux. Christine Kim writes in her editorial:

Over the past few years, there have been many debates in Canadian literature about the continued marginalization of BIPOC, LGBTQI, and female voices. These questions about power, and perhaps more importantly about empowerment, have continued to demand our attention during these pandemic times. I am interested in looking closely at the multiplicity of emerging voices and forces and asking how they capture the attention of various audiences. Or to put it another way, how do the emergent and its readers come to form a structure of feeling? And for whom? This question of emergent intimacies is especially pertinent given how the imbalances of social power have become even more pronounced over the past year.

– Christine Kim, “On Feeling History and Emerging Otherwise

This issue also features:

  • Articles by Shannon Claire Toll, Orly Lael Netzer, Geoffrey Nilson, and Charlotte Comtois.
  • An Interview with Fred Wah by Nicholas Bradley.
  • A Forum on Souvankham Thammavongsa’s work by Vinh Nguyen, Beth Follett, Anjula Gogia, Bryan Thao Worra, Candida Rifkind, Joanne Leow, Warren Heiti, Guy Beauregard, Denise Cruz, Y-Dang Troeung, and Souvankham Thammavongsa.
  • Poetry by Kevin Spenst, Isabella Wang, Fred Wah, Jillian Christmas, John Barton, Yuan Changmin, Bill Howell, Jen Currin, Kenneth Sherman, and Camille Lendor.
  • Reviews by Cornel Bogle, Nicholas Bradley, Julie Cairnie, Alessandra Capperdoni, Sunny Chan, Patricia Demers, Shoshannah Ganz, Dorothy F. Lane, Christine Lorre-Johnston, Andrea MacPherson, Krzysztof Majer, Dougal McNeill, Neil Surkan, Hilary Turner, Tracy Whalen, and Lorraine York.

The new issue can be ordered through our online store. Happy reading!

Seasons Greetings

December 24, 2020

Happy holidays from Canadian Literature! We hope to see you in 2021 

Verse Forward: Poetry on the Frontlines: Author Spotlight—Jillian Christmas

November 24, 2020

Jillian Christmas is a queer, afro-Caribbean writer living on the unceded territories of the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh, and Musqueam people (Vancouver, BC). She has won numerous poetry titles, notably breaking ground as the first Canadian to perform on the final stage of the Women of the World Poetry Slam. Jillian has presented poetry and theory in a multitude of venues. She is the author of The Gospel of Breaking (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2020).

Come hear Jillian Christmas speak on November 25, 2020 at 7:00p.m. (PST) at the inaugural event of Canadian Literature’s new reading series, “Verse Forward: Poetry on the Front Line.” Register here!

Verse Forward: Poetry on the Frontlines: Author Spotlight—Fred Wah

November 17, 2020

BC poet Fred Wah’s most recent project is Music at the Heart of Thinking: Improvisations 1-170, published by Talonbooks in 2020. Also recently, he has published a collaboration with Rita Wong about the Columbia River, beholden: a poem as long as the river (Talonbooks, 2019), and contributed to the collaboratively created interactive website High Muck a Muck: Playing Chinese, An Interactive Poem ( He lives in Vancouver and on Kootenay Lake.

Come hear Fred Wah speak on November 25, 2020 at 7:00p.m. (PST) at the inaugural event of Canadian Literature’s new reading series, “Verse Forward: Poetry on the Front Line.” Register here!

Verse Forward: Poetry on the Frontlines: Author Spotlight—Isabella Wang

November 10, 2020

Isabella Wang is the author of two poetry collections, On Forgetting a Language (Baseline Press, 2019) and Pebble Swing (Nightwood Editions, forthcoming 2021). Her poetry and prose have appeared in over thirty literary journals and are forthcoming in four anthologies. She is the Editor for issue 44.2 of Room magazine.

Come hear Isabella Wang speak on November 25, 2020 at 7:00p.m. (PST) at the inaugural event of Canadian Literature’s new reading series, “Verse Forward: Poetry on the Front Line.” Register here!

Verse Forward: Poetry on the Frontlines: Author Spotlight–Kevin Spenst

November 3, 2020

Kevin Spenst is the author of IgniteJabbering with Bing Bong, and Hearts Amok: A Memoir in Verse (Anvil Press) as well as over a dozen chapbooks. He teaches Creative Writing at Vancouver Community College and lives in Vancouver on unceded Coast Salish territory with the love of his life Shauna Kaendo.

Come hear Kevin Spenst speak on November 25, 2020 at 7:00p.m. (PST) at the inaugural event of Canadian Literature‘s new reading series, “Verse Forward: Poetry on the Front Lines.” Register here!