What does it mean to live in this world?

Small and deferred like the tangerine, which is not an orange, never growing “awkward / with limbs heavy, skin thick” (19) might be an answer. Marking time and space with a hand-drawn, imperfect slash might be another. It is to insist that the letter “k” in front of the word “knife” is not silent. Or, to bend through glass like light. At the very least, write oneself into the centre of the story.

For close to two decades, and over the span of five books—Small Arguments (2003), Found (2007), Light (2013), Cluster (2019), and How to Pronounce Knife (2020)—Souvankham Thammavongsa has explored this question, giving Canadian literature and beyond a rich body of work to contemplate and take pleasure in. This forum brings together poets, editors, booksellers, and academics to reflect on the various “scales” of Thammavongsa’s writing, from Canada to the transnational, the natural world to the labouring body, the nuclear family to histories of war and refugee migration, the miniscule to the transcendent. It concludes with a short piece from the author herself. Each of the contributions sheds light on the resonance and continued relevance of a singular voice in Canadian letters.

Small, deferred: always there, unyielding.

Works Cited

Thammavongsa, Souvankham. Small Arguments. Pedlar, 2003.

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