CanLit Author Spotlights

Issue 247 Author Spotlight – George Elliott Clarke

June 22, 2022

The inaugural E.J. Pratt Poet/Professor, of Canadian Literature, at the University of Toronto, George Elliott Clarke hails from Black Nova Scotia (Africadia). He has served as Poet Laureate of Toronto (2012-15) and Parliamentary Poet Laureate (2016-17).

His poem “IX—Jones/Baraka” can be read on our website at https://canlit.ca/article/ix-jones-baraka/.

Canadian Literature issue 247 is available to order through our online store at https://canlit.ca/full-issue/?issue=247.


Issue 247 Author Spotlight – Pamela Bedore

June 15, 2022

Pamela Bedore is Associate Professor of English at the University of Connecticut, where she teaches courses in American literature and popular culture. She is author of Great Utopian and Dystopian Works of Literature (The Great Courses, 2017), Dime Novels and the Roots of American Detective Fiction (Palgrave, 2013), and several articles on detective fiction, science fiction, and writing program administration. She is the book review editor for Clues: A Journal of Detection, and is currently working on a new book: Canadian Crime Fiction (Routledge).

Article

The Aesthetics of Utopian Imaginings in Louise Penny’s A Trick of the Light

Abstract

It is difficult to find successful utopian writing in our cynical, anxiety-prone twenty-first century, especially after the devastating critique of the genre put forward in Ursula K. Le Guin’s metafictional 1973 short story, “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas.” I argue that Louise Penny’s Armand Gamache detective series addresses the points against utopia raised in Le Guin’s story: the contempt for joy, the need for contrast to make happiness visible, the inherent exploitative cost structure, and the lack of art. Using the genre of detective fiction to move between Montreal and the imaginary bucolic town of Three Pines, Québec, Penny undertakes a complex utopian project that is viable commercially, philosophically, and aesthetically. This article analyzes A Trick of the Light, the seventh novel of the series, to show how Penny uses works of art, real and fictional, of various kinds—paintings, poems, new media—to address and overcome the key challenges of contemporary utopian writing.

Canadian Literature issue 247, is available to order through our online store at https://canlit.ca/support/purchase/single-issues/.


Refugee Worldmaking: Canada and the Afterlives of the Vietnam War : Forum Spotlight

June 11, 2022

Worlds Lost and Found: on the Poetics of Hoa Nguyen

 

Authors

Y-Dang Troeung, Bronwen Tate, Claire Farley, Fred Wah, Joseph Ianni, Kim Jacobs-Beck, Michael Cavuto, Paul Tran, Stephen Collis, and Sydney Van To

 

Forum Abstract

Hoa Nguyen is the author of several books of poetry including Red Juice: Poems 1998-2008 and Violet Energy Ingots, which was nominated for a Griffin Poetry Prize in 2017. Her 2021 book, A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure, is a poetic meditation on historical, personal, and cultural pressures pre- and post-“Fall-of-Saigon” with a verse biography featuring the poet’s mother, Diệp Anh Nguyễn, a stunt motorcyclist in an allwomen Vietnamese circus troupe. She teaches at Ryerson University (which is currently in the process of changing its name), in Miami University’s low residency MFA program, in the Milton Avery School for Fine Arts at Bard College, and in her own long-running private poetics workshop. Her poetry has been recognized with a 2019 Neustadt International Prize for Literature nomination and a Pushcart Prize. Born in the Mekong Delta and raised and educated in the US, Hoa lives in Tkaronto with her family.

Bios

Y-Dang Troeung is a mother, researcher, writer, and Assistant Professor in the Department of English Language and Literatures at the University of British Columbia. She is also a 2020/2021 Wall Scholar at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies. Y-Dang grew up in a small town in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. She lived in Hong Kong for six years before beginning her position at UBC in 2018. As a graduate student, she published her first scholarly essay in Canadian Literature in 2010 and is now happy to be affiliated with the journal as an Associate Editor.

Worlds Lost and Found: on the Poetics of Hoa Nguyen

Bronwen Tate is the author of the poetry collection The Silk the Moths Ignore (Inlandia Institute 2021), National Winner of the Hillary Gravendyk Prize. Midwinter Constellation, a poetry collaboration, is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press. A citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, Bronwen earned an MFA in Literary Arts from Brown University and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Stanford University. Her poems and essays have appeared in publications including CV2, Bennington Review, The Rumpus, and Contemporary Literature. Bronwen teaches poetry, creative nonfiction, and creative writing pedagogy in the School of Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia.

Sounding the Archive

Claire Farley is a doctoral candidate in English Literature at the University of Ottawa. Her research focuses on contemporary documentary poetics in North America. She is the co-founder of Canthius magazine.

Ghost in the Nerve: Hoa Nguyen’s Sonic Archive

Fred Wah studied music and English literature at the University of British Columbia in the early 1960s, where he was one of the founding editors of the poetry newsletter TISH. His past works include Diamond Grill (1996), a biofiction about growing up in a small-town Chinese-Canadian café, and High Muck a Muck: Playing Chinese, An Interactive Poem, available online (http://highmuckamuck.ca/). Recent books include is a door (2009), Scree: The Collected Earlier Poems 1962-1991, and beholden: a poem as long as the river, a collaboration with Rita Wong (2018). Music at the Heart of Thinking was published by Talonbooks Fall 2020.

Dear Hoa

Jo Ianni is an independent student of contemporary poetics as well as an artist who works with poetry.

In the Living Room with Hoa

Kim Jacobs-Beck is Professor of English at the University of Cincinnati Clermont College, where she teaches British literature and composition. She is the author of a chapbook, Torch (Wolfson Press). Her reviews can be found in Constant Critic/Fence, The Rumpus, Los Angeles Review, Gigantic Sequins, Crab Creek Review, Barrelhouse, Drunk Monkeys, anddrizzle review, among others. Some of her poems can be found in West Trestle Review, Nixes Mate, Gyroscope, Apple Valley Review, SWWIM Every Day, and roam literature, among others. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Milk & Cake Press.

Hoa Nguyen’s “Languageless” Poetics

Michael Cavuto is a poet and doctoral candidate in the English Department at Duke University whose research interests involve transcultural modern and contemporary poetics in the American hemisphere. His first book, Country Poems, was published in 2020 by Knife Fork Book, Toronto. After six years in New York City working closely with visual artists, he recently relocated to Durham, North Carolina. With Dale Smith and Hoa Nguyen, he edits the Slow Poetry in America Newsletter, a regular pamphlet series featuring one poet per issue. Along with the poet Tessa Bolsover, he publishes small-run chapbooks and broadsides through auric press.

A Note on Hoa Nguyen’s Diasporic Lyric

Paul Tran is the author of the debut poetry collection, All the Flowers Kneeling, forthcoming from Penguin in February 2022. Their work appears in The New Yorker, The Nation, Best American Poetry, and elsewhere. A recipient of the Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Prize, as well as fellowships from the Poetry Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts, Paul is a Visiting Faculty in Poetry at Pacific University MFA in Writing and a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University.

A Lighthouse to Shore: Patterning and Lyric Discovery in Hoa Nguyen’s Poetry

Stephen Collis is a poet, editor, and professor. His many books of poetry include The Commons, On the Material (awarded the BC Book Prize for Poetry), To the Barricades, and (with Jordan Scott) DECOMP. He has also written two books of literary criticism, a book of essays on the Occupy movement, and a novel. In 2014 he was sued for $5.6 million by US energy giant Kinder Morgan, whose lawyers read his writing in court as “evidence,” and in 2015 he was awarded the Nora and Ted Sterling Prize in Support of Controversy. His forthcoming book is Once in Blockadia; he lives near Vancouver, on unceded Coast Salish Territory, and teaches poetry and poetics at Simon Fraser University.

On Daring and Hoa Nguyen’s Seriality

Sydney Van To is a PhD student in the Department of English at UC Berkeley, with research interests in Asian American literature, critical refugee studies, and crime fiction. He was the co-founder of The Foundationalist and is currently the deputy editor of diaCRITICS. He has a forthcoming chapter titled “Refugee Noir” in the Routledge Handbook of Refugee Narratives.

Altars and Archives

Canadian Literature issue 246, Refugee Worldmaking: Canada and the Afterlives of the Vietnam War, is available to order through our online store at https://canlit.ca/support/purchase/single-issues/.


Refugee Worldmaking: Canada and the Afterlives of the Vietnam War : Author Spotlight – erin Khuê Ninh

June 8, 2022

erin Khuê Ninh is an Associate Professor in the Department of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is the author of Ingratitude: The Debt-Bound Daughter in Asian American Literature (NYU Press; recognized for Best Literary Criticism by the Association for Asian American Studies in 2013), and more recently, Passing for Perfect: College Impostors and Other Model Minorities (Temple University Press, 2021). With Shireen Roshanravan, she edited the special issue of the Journal of Asian American Studies on sexual violence, entitled #WeToo: A Reader (2021).

 

Article

Refugees and Other Impossibilities: Imagining Apocalypse

 

Abstract

In its final form, this will be a piece of autotheory, reflecting on refugee affect at two different points in time: one in the immediate aftermath of the Trump election, the other four years later, but still in the timeline rerouted/revealed by that event. The essay asks what refugee as ontology means in a historical present in which environmental catastrophe comes for us all, but political catastrophe presents an erratic menace.

In its first round, the essay asks: Which genre is this unfolding? When do affective systems primed by the Vietnam War resilient vs. maladaptive? Will we know when it is time, again, to go?

In its second, sifting the accretions of fifteen hundred days of headlines, the questions have not abated but morphed and grown: What is Canada to this new American vision of the self? Four years in, are those of us still here inured or recommitted? As settler refugees, what is our duty to this land? As BIPOC allies, what is our duty to those communities whose apocalypse has been here for generations, and who have stayed?

 

Canadian Literature issue 246, Refugee Worldmaking: Canada and the Afterlives of the Vietnam War, is available to order through our online store at https://canlit.ca/support/purchase/single-issues/.


Refugee Worldmaking: Canada and the Afterlives of the Vietnam War : Author Spotlight – Lindsay Diehl

April 20, 2022

Lindsay Diehl is Assistant Professor in the Department of English, Theatre, Film & Media at the University of Manitoba. Her work has appeared in Postcolonial Text, English Studies in Canada, Canada & Beyond, and Rupkatha. She is currently working on a book entitled Asian Canadian Literature, which is part of a Routledge series on Canadian literature edited by Lorraine York and Robert Lecker.

Article

Journey to Hội An: The Theme of Return in Philip Huynh’s The Forbidden Purple City

Abstract

This paper examines the intricate theme of “returning home” in Philip Huynh’s short story “Toad Poem.” It argues that this story, with its focus on a character who enacts a return visit to Vietnam, allows for a greater appreciation of the active and ongoing connections between Vietnamese Canadians, their homeland, and its complicated history marked by Western imperialism. Importantly, these connections work to disrupt the discourse of the “grateful refugee”—a discourse formulated by the Canadian nation-state that suggests the refugee’s war-torn past has been resolved and replaced by a peaceful and prosperous present. Alternatively, “Toad Poem” suggests how Vietnamese Canadians can remain haunted by losses incurred during the Vietnam War. Diem has not simply left a “communist” Vietnam to flourish in a “free” Canada; rather, his memories and thoughts of the past continue to shape his decisions. Thus, his return to Vietnam denotes a movement back in time, as well as a passage across the Pacific Ocean, to reveal what has been excised from Canada’s state-sanctioned discourse.

Canadian Literature issue 246, Refugee Worldmaking: Canada and the Afterlives of the Vietnam War, is available to order through our online store at https://canlit.ca/support/purchase/single-issues/.


Refugee Worldmaking: Canada and the Afterlives of the Vietnam War : Author Spotlight – Jason Coe

April 13, 2022

Jason G. Coe is Assistant Professor in the Academy of Film at Hong Kong Baptist University. His research interests include transpacific, Asian/ American, and sinophone film and media, cultural memory, and feminist theory. He focuses on understanding how film and media forms interact with cultural politics. He has published in peer-reviewed journals including Journal of Cinema and Media Studies, Journal of Chinese Cinemas, and Asian Cinema. He has appeared in media programs including TEDxTinHauWomen, New Books in Asian American Studies, RTHK’s The Pulse, and RTHK3’s Agender Cafe.

Article

Regenerative Remembering: Reconciliation and Recuperation in Transpacific Cambodian Documentary

Abstract

This essay examines examples of transpacific Cambodian cultural memory in The Roots Remain (2015) and Daze of Justice (2016) that approach the afterlife of the Cambodian Genocide with mutual affection, commemoration, and creative adaptation. The stakes of memory in these two documentaries are different than in the Cambodian documentary films of Rithy Panh (S21The Missing Picture) or Thet Sambath (Enemies of the People) that bear witness to trauma in order to resist forgetting through the testimony of victims and perpetrators. These films also differ from Asian American documentaries about 1.5 generation SE Asian refugees resettling in North America such as AKA Don Bonus (Spencer Nakasako/Sokly Ny, 1995), Kelly Loves Tony (Nakasako, 1998), or returnee documentaries about subjects uncovering family memory in order to understand and reshape their own identifications as seen in Refugee (Nakasako, 2003). Both Daze of Justice and The Roots Remain are not fact-finding missions like their predecessors in New Cambodian Cinema and Asian American film and media. Through a process of reconciling and recuperating collective memory that I describe as regenerative remembering, the Cambodian Canadian and Cambodian American subjects of these films work to restore communal relations severed by generational difference, transpacific migration, and silence.

Canadian Literature issue 246, Refugee Worldmaking: Canada and the Afterlives of the Vietnam War, is available to order through our online store at https://canlit.ca/support/purchase/single-issues/.


Refugee Worldmaking: Canada and the Afterlives of the Vietnam War : Author Spotlight – Timothy K. August

March 23, 2022

Timothy K. August is an Associate Professor of English at Stony Brook University. His latest publications have appeared in MELUS, LIT: Literature, Interpretation, Theory; and The Oxford Encyclopedia of Asian American Literature and Culture. He also co-edited a special issue of the Canadian Review of American Studies titled, Vietnam, War, and the Global Imagination. His book The Refugee Aesthetic: Reimagining Southeast Asian America (Temple University Press, 2020), addresses why a number of Southeast Asian American authors have recently embraced the refugee identity as a transformative position.

Article

The Refugee, Recently: Souvankham Thammavongsa, Philip Huynh, and the Aesthetics of Heterogeneity

Abstract

In this article I will be identifying uses, techniques, and goals of Southeast Asian Canadian refugee aesthetics in the present moment. Looking specifically at Souvankham Thammavongsa’s How to Pronounce Knife and Philip Huynh’s The Forbidden Purple City I show how each piece leverages what Ming Tiampo has called, the “aesthetics of heterogeneity” to articulate how refugee collectivities exists beyond state designations. While Thammavongsa and Huynh write from and about different Southeast Asian communities, as well as belonging to differing immigrant “waves,” both texts are similar in how they present a plurality of voices, with various interests, perspectives, and drives. This approach contrasts with the singularity that has positioned Southeast Asian Canadian refugees as the stable exemplary subject needed for Canadian national mythologies to be formed. I propose that a contemporary aesthetic of heterogeneity intervenes in the imagining of the Canadian social milieu, where refugee authors illustrate the different structures of knowledge created by refugee lives without having to represent and give up to the reader exactly what the refugee life is.

Canadian Literature issue 246, Refugee Worldmaking: Canada and the Afterlives of the Vietnam War, is available to order through our online store at https://canlit.ca/support/purchase/single-issues/.


Refugee Worldmaking: Canada and the Afterlives of the Vietnam War : Author Spotlight – Wesley Attewell and Danielle Wong

March 16, 2022

Wesley Attewell is a visiting scholar at the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at New York University. He works at the intersection of geography, Asian/Pacific/American studies, and history to map the spatial dimensions of US empire-building from the Cold War on. His first book, Developing Violence: Disassembling the USAID Complex in Afghanistan, will appear from the University of Minnesota Press in 2022. He is currently working on a second book project entitled The Lifelines of Empire: Logistical Life in the Decolonizing Pacific.

Danielle Wong is Assistant Professor in the Department of English Language and Literatures at the University of British Columbia. Her research and teaching interests are at the intersections of race, empire, and technology. Her current book project, Racial Virtuality: The New Media Life of Asianness, traces a genealogy of the “virtual” in racial capitalist, settler-colonial logics, and examines how everyday experiments applications of virtuality are entangled with Asian diasporic and Asian North American racialization and labour.

Article

Donut Time: Refugee Place-Making in 24/7 Afterwar

Abstract

By analyzing Duffin’s Donuts in East Vancouver as a temporal-spatial landscape of afterwar, we suggest that refugee place-making entails racial taste-making—the labour and pleasures involved in producing sensorial, culinary, and aesthetic tastes that constitute the everyday experiences of imperial haunting. We argue that the donut shop’s 24/7 temporality indexes such a haunting: On the one hand, it marks the long duration and unrelenting conditions of labour exploitation under racial capitalism and transpacific imperialism, and, on the other, it fragments and suspends the linear chronology of multicultural inclusion and capitalist success. We conduct a close reading of the restaurant’s spatial aesthetics, signage, and menu in order to consider how the readymade—as a genre of art objects and as instant meals—traces lineages of transpacific imperialism and makes apparent the limits of neoliberalism’s promises of seamless production. We situate the intersection at Knight Street and 41st Avenue within the global circuits of supply chain capitalism. In doing so, we tell an alternative story of the Cambodian donut shop—one in which Duffin’s serves as a hinge that links East Vancouver to larger, ongoing projects of just-in-time Empire, and allows us to see the possible survival strategies of, and opportunities for solidarities through, refugee place-making.

Canadian Literature issue 246, Refugee Worldmaking: Canada and the Afterlives of the Vietnam War, is available to order through our online store at https://canlit.ca/support/purchase/single-issues/.


Refugee Worldmaking: Canada and the Afterlives of the Vietnam War : Author Spotlight – Y-Dang Troeung

March 9, 2022

Y-Dang Troeung is a mother, researcher, writer, and Assistant Professor in the Department of English Language and Literatures at the University of British Columbia. She is also a 2020/2021 Wall Scholar at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies. Y-Dang grew up in a small town in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. She lived in Hong Kong for six years before beginning her position at UBC in 2018. As a graduate student, she published her first scholarly essay in Canadian Literature in 2010 and is now happy to be affiliated with the journal as an Associate Editor.

 

Article

On Refugee Worldmaking (Editorial)

 

Abstract

“While seared into the memories of most survivors who lived through the war first-hand, audiences here in Canada likely remember experiencing the last days of the Vietnam War from a distance, as they watched the scenes of frantic helicopter refugee evacuations in Southeast Asia flood the news. As I write this editorial for the special issue on Refugee Worldmaking: Canada and the Afterlives of the Vietnam War, these scenes of wartime upheaval, refugee evacuations, and people left behind in the ruins and ravages of war to fend for themselves are with us once again—not from Cambodia, Vietnam, or Laos this time, but from Afghanistan.”

 

Canadian Literature issue 246, Refugee Worldmaking: Canada and the Afterlives of the Vietnam War, is available to order through our online store at https://canlit.ca/support/purchase/single-issues/.


Pandemics: Author Spotlight – Liz Howard

March 2, 2022

Photo Credit: Ralph Kolewe

Liz Howard’s debut collection Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent won the 2016 Griffin Poetry Prize, was shortlisted for the 2015 Governor General’s Award for poetry, and was named a Globe and Mail top 100 book. Her second collection, Letters in a Bruised Cosmos, was published by McClelland & Stewart in June 2021. Howard received an Honours Bachelor of Science with High Distinction from the University of Toronto, and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Guelph. She is of mixed settler and Anishinaabe heritage. Born and raised on Treaty 9 territory in northern Ontario, she currently lives in Toronto.

 

Her poem “JEANETTE BRAIDS HER HAIR INTO MINE” can be read on our website at https://canlit.ca/article/jeanette-braids-her-hair-into-mine/ as part of our Verse Forward 2 poetry reading series.

 

Canadian Literature issue 245, Pandemics, is available to order through our online store at https://canlit.ca/support/purchase/single-issues/.