CanLit Author Spotlights

Returns: Author Spotlight – Jagjeet Sharma

July 21, 2021

Jagjeet Sharma is a freelance journalist, poet and author. She hosts a weekly radio show in Ottawa along with her team of dedicated volunteers on CKCU 93.1fm. She has three collections of poems to her credit. Nature’s Subtle Seductions, published 2018; Fragments, published 2019. Raindrops, her third collection was launched in June 2020.  COVID 19 Chronicles – Reflections on the 2020 pandemic was published in November 2020. This anthology, a limited edition, was launched in December 2020.

Her Poem “Wind chimes” can be read on our website at


Canadian Literature issue 243, Returns, is available to order through our online store at

Returns: Author Spotlight – Andrea Beverley

July 14, 2021

Andrea Beverley is an Associate Professor at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick. She is cross-appointedto English and Canadian Studies and is the head of the Canadian Studies program. Her research focuses on Canadian women writers of the 1970s and 1980s, particularly in relation to archives, feminism, and literary collectives.


“Uranium Mining, Interdisciplinarity, and Ecofeminism in Donna Smyth’s Subversive Elements


Donna Smyth’s Subversive Elements, published by The Women’s Press in 1986, is a multi-generic, postmodern, ecofeminist, Maritime novel. One of the novel’s narrative threads recounts real-life resistance to uranium mining in Nova Scotia in the early 1980s. The other dominant narrative thread takes place in mid-twentieth century Europe and tells the story of the loves and lives of Beatrice and Lewis. This essay examines the rich intertextuality and heterogeneity of Subversive Elements, analyzing themes of silence, language, and gender in relation to the novel’s ecofeminist stance. Set against the backdrop of late Cold War anti-nuclear activism, Subversive Elements is a compelling addition to literary representations of resource extraction in Atlantic and Canadian literature.

Canadian Literature issue 243, Returns, is available to order through our online store at

Returns: Author Spotlight – Melanie Dennis Unrau

June 30, 2021

Melanie Dennis Unrau is a white settler of mixed European descent living on Treaty One territory in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Melanie is a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and an instructor in the Department of English at the University of Winnipeg. Her current research on Canadian petropoetics expands on her dissertation on Canadian oil-worker poetry. Melanie is the author of Happiness Threads: The Unborn Poems (The Muses’ Company, 2013), a co-editor of Seriality and Texts for Young People: The Compulsion to Repeat (Palgrave, 2014), and a former co-editor of The Goose: A Journal of Arts, Environment, and Culture in Canada.


“Rig Talk and Disidentification in Peter Christensen’s Rig Talk and Mathew Henderson’s The Lease


Although Mathew Henderson’s 2012 poetry collection The Lease has been credited as the first book of insider poetry about oil work, Peter Christensen’s 1981 collection Rig Talk marks the beginning of an overlooked and growing tradition in Canadian literary history. Written during different oil booms and published three decades apart, both books incorporate rough, violent, misogynist, and racist “rig talk” to embody and subvert a toxic masculinity and its seeming opposite, an equally toxic settler-colonial ecopoetics. This article adapts theories of disidentification by Michel Pêcheux, José Esteban Muñoz, and Judith Butler to argue that the ambivalent speakers of both texts use petrocultural disidentification to perform, mourn, and resist the inadequate versions of subjectivity on offer. Considering recent calls for a just energy transition that leaves no one behind, and looking for alternatives to polarization and despair, it considers petrocultural disidentification as a mode for solidarity and resistance.

Canadian Literature issue 243, Returns, is available to order through our online store at

Returns: Author Spotlight – Beatrice Achampong

June 23, 2021

Beatrice Achampong currently resides in Richmond, British Columbia. She immigrated to Vancouver when she was young in the 1980’s with her family. She loves to travel. In her late 20’s she decided to travel across Canada and lived outside of Vancouver for 10 years before returning back in 2018. She loves poetry, fashion, dancing, traveling, dining out, and meeting different people. She earned her Psychology degree at UBC, and in the future she may pursue her Master’s degree in Child Psychology.

Her Poem “The Beauty of Rage” can be read on our website at


Canadian Literature issue 243, Returns, is available to order through our online store at

Emerging Scholars, Redux: Author Spotlight – Forum Authors

June 12, 2021

Vinh Nguyen

Vinh Nguyen is Associate Professor of English at Renison University College, University of Waterloo. His writing can be found in Social Text, MELUS, ARIEL, Canadian Literature, Life Writing, and Canadian Review of American Studies.

Beth Follett

Beth Follett is the founder and publisher of Pedlar Press, a Canadian literary house. Her first novel, Tell It Slant (Coach House, 2001), a retelling of Djuna Barnes’ 1936 novel Nightwood, was met with critical acclaim. Her second novel, Instructor, will be released by Breakwater Books in 2021. Follett’s poetry, prose, and non-fiction work have appeared in Brick, Best Canadian Poetry 2019, and elsewhere. She lives in St. John’s, NL.

Anjula Gogia

Anjula Gogia is events coordinator at Another Story Bookshop. She is the former co-manager of the Toronto Women’s Bookstore, and has worked at Between the Lines, PEN Canada, and Amnesty International. She loves to read, cook, and hang out in the sun.

Bryan Thao Worra

Bryan Thao Worra is the Lao Minnesotan Poet Laureate and holds a Joyce Award, an NEA Fellowship in Literature, and over twenty other distinctions for his creative writing. An internationally published author of nine books, he serves on the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans in addition to numerous community roles in Southeast Asian refugee resettlement and the arts. His current book of poetry is Before We Remember We Dream from Sahtu Press.

Candida Rifkind

Candida Rifkind is Professor in the Department of English at the University of Winnipeg, where she specializes in graphic narratives and Canadian literature. She is co-editor of Documenting Trauma in Comics: Traumatic Pasts, Embodied Histories, and Graphic Reportage (Palgrave, 2020); Canadian Graphic: Picturing Life Narratives (Wilfrid Laurier UP, 2016), which won the 2016 Gabrielle Roy Prize; and a special issue of a/b: Auto/Biography Studies on “Migration, Exile, and Diaspora in Graphic Life Narratives” (2020). Her monograph, Comrades and Critics: Women, Literature, and the Left in 1930s Canada (2009), won the 2010 Ann Saddlemyer Prize.

Joanne Leow

Joanne Leow lives as a guest on Treaty Six Territory and the homeland of the Métis. She is Assistant Professor of decolonizing, diasporic, and transnational literatures at the University of Saskatchewan. Her most recent research is in positions: asia critique, Verge: Studies in Global Asias, University of Toronto Quarterly, and Journal of Asian American Studies. Her first book manuscript theorizes the relationship between cultural dissidence and urban planning in Singapore. Her essays, fiction, and poetry have been published in Brick, Catapult, The Goose, ISLE, The Town Crier, and Ricepaper Magazine. Her ecocritical SSHRC-funded project “Intertidal Polyphonies” is archived at

Warren Heiti

Warren Heiti lives in Nanaimo where he teaches in the Departments of Philosophy and Liberal Studies at Vancouver Island University. He is the author of Hydrologos (Pedlar, 2011) and co-editor of Chamber Music: The Poetry of Jan Zwicky (Wilfrid Laurier UP, 2015).

Guy Beauregard

Guy Beauregard is a Professor at National Taiwan University and an Associate Member of Simon Fraser University’s Institute for Transpacific Cultural Research. His work over the past decade has appeared in Amerasia Journal, Canadian Literature, Concentric, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, Studies in Canadian Literature, Tamkang Review, and West Coast Line. Most recently, he has co-edited The Subject(s) of Human Rights: Crises, Violations, and Asian/American Critique (Temple UP, 2020).

Denise Cruz

Denise Cruz is an Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. Her research documents and explores national, regional, and global dynamics in Asian North American, Filipinx, and US literature, culture, and history, with special attention to gender and sexuality. She is the author of Transpacific Femininities: The Making of the Modern Filipina (Duke UP, 2012).

Y-Dang Troeung

Y-Dang Troeung is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of British Columbia. She specializes in transnational Asian literatures, critical refugee studies, and global south studies. She is currently completing a book manuscript on the afterlife of the Cold War in Cambodia. At UBC, she is a faculty affiliate of the Asian Canadian Studies and Migration Program (ACAM), an Associate Editor of the journal Canadian Literature, and a 2020 Wall Scholar at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies. Her recent publications can be found in Canadian Literature, Brick: A Literary Magazine, Amerasia Journal, and Inter-Asia Cultural Studies.

Souvankham Thammavongsa

Souvankham Thammavongsa is the author of four acclaimed poetry books—Small Arguments (Pedlar, 2003), winner of the ReLit prize; Found (Pedlar, 2007); Light (Pedlar, 2013), winner of the Trillium Book Award for Poetry; and Cluster (McClelland & Stewart, 2019)—and the short-story collection How to Pronounce Knife (McClelland & Stewart, 2020), a New York Times Critics’ Choice and winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Her stories have been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, won an O. Henry Award, and appeared in Harper’s Magazine, The Paris Review, The Atlantic, and The Believer. She has been in residence at Yaddo and performed her work at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. She was born in the Lao refugee camp in Nong Khai, Thailand, and was raised and educated in Toronto, where she now lives.

Introduction by Vinh Nguyen

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.


Photo Credits:

Bryan Thao Worra by Snap Pilots; Souvankham Thammavongsa by Sarah Bodri

Emerging Scholars, Redux: Author – Kenneth Sherman

June 9, 2021

Kenneth Sherman has published several books of poetry, including the highly acclaimed long poems Words for Elephant Man and Black River. He has also published three books of prose, including the memoir Wait Time, which was nominated for the 2017 RBC Taylor non-fiction prize.

His poem “A Walk Along Lakeshore Drive” can be read on our website at

Canadian Literature issue 242, Emerging Scholars, Redux, is available to order through our online store at

Emerging Scholars, Redux: Author – Jen Currin

June 5, 2021

Jen Currin has published five books, most recently Hider/Seeker: Stories, a 2018 Globe and Mail Best Book, and School, a finalist for three awards. A white settler of mostly Western European ancestry, Jen lives on the unceded ancestral territories of the Qayqayt, Musqueam, and Kwantlen First Nations (New Westminster, BC), and teaches writing at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

Jen’s poem “The Local” can be read on our website at

Canadian Literature issue 242, Emerging Scholars, Redux, is available to order through our online store at

Emerging Scholars, Redux: Author – Geoffrey Nilson

June 2, 2021

Geoffrey Nilson is an MA student in English at Simon Fraser University and the author of four poetry chapbooks. Recent publications have appeared in filling Station, Hamilton Review of Books, CV2, and Sweet Water: Poems for the Watersheds (Caitlin, 2020). He is the BC-YK Regional Representative for the League of Canadian Poets.


“‘It was always what was under the poetry that mattered’: Reading the Paratext in Once in Blockadia by Stephen Collis”


Once in Blockadia by Stephen Collis is poetry of direct action, a book of revolutionary record where the speaker is a participant in the protest. Collis radically challenges traditional uses of form, breaking the bounds of the poem and asking the reader to engage more deeply with his text. The organizational metaphor of the barricade connects with the poetry’s social and political aspirations but also showcases a blockade of normative reading, one where the text is a contained entity. Guided by literary theorist Gérard Genette, structural analysis of Once in Blockadia allows a comprehensive picture of its intertextuality. An active reading—from covers and epigraphs to interviews, legal transcripts, and news reports, in what I call a critical literary praxis of ‘reading the notes’—provides unique understandings of poetry that highlights the complexities of interacting with a text that is forever unfinished for both the writer and the reader. The active nature of this paratextual writing and reading challenges the dominance of the author or publisher over a text, opening the closed poem to a democracy of voice, content, and meaning. For Once in Blockadia, every context is a paratext and every paratext becomes, granularly, part of the text itself.

Canadian Literature issue 242, Emerging Scholars, Redux, is available to order through our online store at

Emerging Scholars, Redux: Author – Bill Howell

May 29, 2021

Bill Howell, one of the original Storm Warning poets, has had a literary career spanning five decades. He has five collections, and his work appears regularly in literary journals and anthologies across Canada, in the UK, Australia, and the United States. Born in Liverpool, England, he grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and has lived in Toronto for more than half his life. Bill was a network producer-director at CBC Radio Drama for three decades. Ranging from the lyrical to the ironic, his poetry deploys colloquial language, deliberate narrative, and a sharp sense of the focused moment.

His poem “Further Surveillance” can be read on our website at

Canadian Literature issue 242, Emerging Scholars, Redux, is available to order through our online store at

Emerging Scholars, Redux: Author – Camille Lendor

May 26, 2021

Camille Lendor is a queer Black poet. She is pursuing her BA in English at the University of Toronto and lives in Toronto, Ontario. Camille is currently working on her debut poetry collection.

Her poem “TTC” can be read on our website at

Canadian Literature issue 242, Emerging Scholars, Redux, is available to order through our online store at