CanLit Author Spotlights

Pandemics: Author Spotlight – Sharon Engbrecht

February 23, 2022

Sharon Engbrecht is a PhD Candidate in Literary Studies at the University of British Columbia. Their dissertation, “Challenging the Scripts of Romantic Love: British and Canadian Women’s Critical-Romance Novels,” focuses on women’s writing as a form of queer knowledge production in response to the “straightening” narratives of romantic love. They are currently an in-house student-staff writer at Canadian Literature.



Verse Forward: A Canadian Literature Poetry Reading Series



This contribution reviews the history of poetry at Canadian Literature, through CanLit Poets and now Verse Forward: Poetry on the Front Lines, a poetry reading series. Looking at the first two Verse Forward events, Sharon brings out the urgent work the poet-activists do, calling on readers to meditate on the multiplicity of meanings in each poem. Drawing from the authors’ conversations with Phinder Dulai, series creator and emcee, Sharon considers how we arrive at alternative connectivities during the COVID_19 pandemic.


Canadian Literature issue 245, Pandemics, is available to order through our online store at

Pandemics: Author Spotlight – Caroline Misner

February 16, 2022

Caroline Misner’s work has appeared in numerous publications in the USA, Canada, India and the UK.  She has been nominated for the prestigious McClelland & Stewart Journey Anthology Prize for the short story “Strange Fruit”; in 2011 another short story and a poem were nominated for the Pushcart Prize.  She lives in the beautiful Haliburton Highlands of Northern Ontario where she continues to draw inspiration for her work.  She is the author of the Young Adult fantasy series “The Daughters of Eldox”.  Her latest novel, “The Spoon Asylum” was released in May of 2018 by Thistledown Press and was nominated by the publisher for the Governor General Award. You can view more of her work at her website:


Her poem “Inside the Lazaretto” can be read on our website at


Canadian Literature issue 245, Pandemics, is available to order through our online store at

Pandemics: Forum Spotlight – Race, Visuality, and COVID-19

February 9, 2022


This forum emerged out of a series of conversations that began as virtual panels in 2020, including a public roundtable, titled “COVID-19 Vulnerabilities: Asian Racialization, Coalition, and Creativity,” that brought together community organizers, artists, and scholars located in North America and Asia, as well as artists’ conversations and screenings of Seoul-based web art duo YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES’ recent artworks, CHARLIE CHAN AND THE YELLOW PERIL and GUNS ‘N ASIANS. With a focus on Asian and Asian North American racialization, cultural production, and migration, this collection of essays moves beyond the question, “How do you solve a problem you can’t see?” and instead attends to the inquiry: How does COVID-19 engender ways of seeing and not seeing racially?


Danielle Wong

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.


Pandemic Racial Visions


Thy Phu

Thy Phu is Professor of Media Studies at the University of Toronto. She is coeditor of Feeling Photography and Refugee States: Critical Refugee Studies in Canada. She is also author of Warring Visions: Vietnam and Photography and Picturing Model Citizens: Civility in Asian American Visual Culture.


Our Masks, Our Selves


Clare Jen

Clare C. Jen, PhD is Director of Women’s and Gender Studies Program at Denison University, where she is jointly appointed as Associate Professor in Biology and Women’s and Gender Studies. Her areas of inquiry are in feminist science and technology studies and critical race and gender studies in public health. She explores oppositional scientific praxes, like biohacking and do-it-yourself/do-it-together (DIY/DIT) science, as feminist, queer and trans enactments of alternative scientific method(ologies). She has published in Feminist Formations, Ethnic Studies Review, Rhizomes, Knowing New Biotechnologies (2015), and Introduction to Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies (2017, 2020) from Oxford University Press.


Our Pandemic Conditions


Neel Ahuja

Neel Ahuja is Associate Professor of feminist studies and a core faculty member of the Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is the author of Bioinsecurities: Disease Interventions, Empire, and the Government of Species (2016).


Visualizing COVID-19 Emergency in India


Melissa Karmen Lee

Melissa Karmen Lee 李林嘉敏 is a visual arts curator and literature scholar and the Director of Education and Public Programs at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Her previous appointments include Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Art, Hong Kong, David Lam Centre, Simon Fraser University, and English Department, Chinese University of Hong Kong. She has published on art and literature including Protest as Polyphony: Raqs Media Collective (ASAP Journal), Hospitality and Chinese Diasporic fiction (Routledge Press), “Diasporic Literature: The Politics of Identity and Language” (Journal of Asian Pacific Communications),  and “The Politics of Fiction: A Response to New Orientalism in Type” (Journal of Multicultural Discourses).




Ivetta Sunyoung Kang

Ivetta Sunyoung Kang (she/her) is a South Korean-born interdisciplinary artist and writer based in Tiohtià:ke/Montreal and Tkaronto/Toronto, Canada. She obtained her MFA at Concordia University in Canada. She works across moving-image-based media, text, participatory and performative work and also writes poetry and fiction. She has internationally presented her work at film festivals and galleries, including Jeon-Ju International Film Festival, South Korea; Chennai International Women Film Festival, India; Leonard Bina Ellen, M.A.I., Canada; SomoS Art House; Germany, Arlington Arts Center, the USA. She is a co-founding member of an artist collective called Quite Ourselves.


Intimacy as Art Practice


Canadian Literature issue 245, Pandemics, is available to order through our online store at

Pandemics: Author Spotlight – D. S. Stymeist

February 2, 2022

D.S. Stymeist’s debut collection, The Bone Weir, was published by Frontenac in 2016 and was a finalist for the Canadian Author’s Association Award for Poetry. He continues to publish widely in both academic and literary magazines. Alongside fending off Crohn’s disease, he teaches creative writing, Renaissance drama, and crime fiction at Carleton University. He grew up as a non-indigenous member of a mixed heritage family on O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree Nation; these formative experiences continue to guide and shape his cultural hybridity. For a number of years, he was president of VERSe Ottawa, which runs VERSeFest, Ottawa’s international poetry festival.


His poem “Last Dance at the Museum” can be read on our website at


Canadian Literature issue 245, Pandemics, is available to order through our online store at

Pandemics: Author Spotlight – JP Catungal & Ethel Tungohan

January 26, 2022

John Paul (JP) Catungal is Assistant Professor in the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice and Interim Director of the Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies at the University of British Columbia. His research, teaching, and community engagement work is broadly concerned with the cultural production and community organizing efforts of migrant, racialized and LGBTQ communities, particularly in the fields of sexual health, social services, and education.


Ethel Tungohan is an Assistant Professor of Politics and a Canada Research Chair in Canadian Migration Policy, Impacts, and Activism at York University. Her research expertise lies in immigration policy and activism, with a specific focus on temporary labour migration and care work. She is a strong proponent of community-engaged research.




Racial Narratives on Repeat: Reflections on Collaborative Research on Asian International Students in COVID Times



This piece, presented in the form of a dialogue, discusses the motivations, methods and contexts that inform our ongoing research collaboration on Asian international students’ experiences and understandings of the COVID-19 crisis in Canada. We focus particularly on the presence, persistence and circulation of narratives—about international students, about Canada, about universities, and about COVID-19—and how they shape Asian international students’ sense of place and experiences in the past year. We note that these narratives produce our research participants as racialized subjects, framing them simultaneously as desirable sources of revenue and evidence of diversity for Canada and the university and as threats to white entitlement to futurity and institutional space. We also situate these racializations in the longer history of anti-Asian racism in Canada. In attending to Asian international students’ articulations of their experiences of anti-Asian racism in COVID times, we also discuss how they mobilize counter-narratives as forms of embodied and felt knowledge. These counternarratives show our participants’ agentive capacities, testify to their lived experiences of racialization, and constitute critiques, not only of circulating narratives about international students but also of well-worn framings of Canada and its universities as sites of tolerance and multiculturalism.


Canadian Literature issue 245, Pandemics, is available to order through our online store at

Pandemics: Author Spotlight – Erina Harris

January 19, 2022

Erina Harris is a Canadian author, scholar and Creative Writing Instructor. Her hybrid writings have been published and awarded internationally. She is a graduate and Fellow of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and recently completed a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Poetics and Pedagogy at the University of Alberta (SSHRC). Her first poetry collection, The Stag Head Spoke was short-listed for the Canadian Authors’ Association Poetry Award (2015). The poem published here is an excerpt from the completed manuscript Persephone’s Abecedarium: An Alphabet Play (An Ecopoetical Adaptation of the Homeric “Hymn to Demeter”), publication date TBA. In 2021, Erina activated the website, and public invitation to the social poetics project The Foster Words Project for collaboration; please visit for your invitation to participate.


Her poem “UNWARDS, The Printing Press in Hell: Testimony II (Spoken by Hades)” can be read on our website at


Canadian Literature issue 245, Pandemics, is available to order through our online store at

Pandemics: Author Spotlight – Clint Burnham

January 12, 2022

Clint Burnham was born in Comox, British Columbia, which is on the traditional territory of the K’ómoks (Sathloot) First Nation, centred historically on kwaniwsam. He lives and teaches on the traditional ancestral territories of the Coast Salish peoples, including traditional territories of the Squamish (Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw), Tsleil-Waututh (səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ), Musqueam (xʷməθkʷəy̓əm), and Kwikwetlem (kʷikʷəƛ̓əm) Nations. Clint is Professor of English at Simon Fraser University; his most recent books are Lacan and the Environment (Palgrave, co-edited with Paul Kingsbury) and White Lie (Anvil, fiction).


The Plague of Orientalism: Reading Kevin Chong in the Pandemic


Reading Kevin Chong’s 2018 novel The Plague in the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, this article argues that historical conditions, including white supremacy in Canada and liberal democratic anxieties regarding same are rendered in the novel both through representative scenes (a political figure visits patients in a pandemic ward, a protest featuring anti-immigrant and anti-racist participants devolves into a riot) and through such speech acts as trigger warnings and land acknowledgments. An intersection of historicist and psychoanalytic interpretations warn against both simply ascribing textual scenes to a literal writing of the Real, and seeking to cordon off the text from the social.


Clint Burnham Interviews Kevin Chong


In this interview, Kevin Chong discusses his 2018 novel The Plague. He discusses its relation to the Camus novel from 1947, what he thought he “got right” about the novel once the 2020 pandemic started, and what it means to write from the privileged perspective of a settler immigrant. Chong also discusses Camus’ humour, the importance of writers of colour expanding the canon from Tolstoy and Camus to Toni Morrison and Kamel Daoud, and why hate crimes still take place in an Asian city like Vancouver. Chong also opens up about his own complicated history of arrival in Vancouver, being both fourth-generation and first-generation Chinese-Canadian.


Canadian Literature issue 245, Pandemics, is available to order through our online store at


Photo Credit: Chris Brayshaw

Pandemics: Author Spotlight – Josh Stewart

January 5, 2022

Josh Stewart is an ESL instructor, martial artist, and writer. He has authored two poetry chapbooks, Temptation as a Technical Difficulty (Anstruther Press, 2015) and Invention of the Curveball (Cactus Press, 2008). His work has appeared or is forthcoming in literary journals such as Canadian Literature, Vallum, The New Quarterly, Grain, The Antigonish Review, Descant, Into The Void, Carousel, Prairie Fire, CV2, Existere, Clover & White, and others. He was shortlisted for Into the Void’s Fiction Prize, longlisted for the Descant/Winston Collins Poetry Prize, and awarded first place in the Norma Epstein Competition in the fiction category. Josh is also an experienced Karate instructor, holding his Yondan (4th degree) in Koryu Uchinadi Kenpo Jutsu and his Nidan (2nd degree) in Shotokan/Chito Ryu. His martial arts articles have appeared in Black Belt Magazine, Shotokan Karate Magazine, and USA Dojo. His blog is called The Martial Poet ( Josh lives in Milton, Ontario.


His poem “During the Pandemic” can be read on our website at


Canadian Literature issue 245, Pandemics, is available to order through our online store at

Pandemics: Author Spotlight – Katherine McLeod

December 29, 2021

Katherine McLeod is an Affiliate Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Concordia University. She is writing a book that is a feminist listening to recordings of women poets on CBC radio. She has co-edited the collection CanLit Across Media: Unarchiving the Literary Event (with Jason Camlot, McGill-Queen’s UP, 2019), and her most recent publication is a chapter in the book Moving Archives (edited by Linda Morra, Wilfrid Laurier UP, 2020). She produces the monthly series ShortCuts for The SpokenWeb Podcast and she is the 2020-2021 Researcher-in-Residence at the Concordia Library.



Pandemic Listening: Critical Annotations on a Podcast Made in Social Isolation



We no longer sound the same to each other, and we listen to the world differently than we did before. This co-written article presents a series of reflections upon the implications of the increasing dominance of audiovisual telecommunication environments for how we have been listening to each other and to the world around us during the COVID-19 pandemic period. The reflections explored in this article were first articulated within a media production: the podcast episode, “How are we listening, now? Signal, Noise, Silence,” as part of The SpokenWeb Podcast produced by Camlot and McLeod during the first months of the pandemic. “Pandemic Listening” revisits questions posed in the podcast episode about the implications of our increasingly pervasive Zoom-based methods of communication, and the connection between how we are listening and how we are feeling, individually and collectively. In revisiting these discussions as they are transcribed and at a temporal distance from the early days of social restriction when the podcast was produced, this article unpacks discoveries about signal and noise made performatively within the podcast, and theorizes pandemic listening as a condition of sonic instability and attunement that opens opportunities for reflection and transformation of systemic, habitual listening practices.


Canadian Literature issue 245, Pandemics, is available to order through our online store at

Sensing Different Worlds: Author Spotlight – Forum Authors

December 15, 2021


“Reading and Teaching Canadian Auto/biography in 2021: On Eternity Martis’ They Said This Would Be Fun: Race, Campus Life, and Growing Up and Samra Habib’s We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir



This forum is an edited version of a conversation recorded on February 12, 2021. We decided to do this book review as a conversation, because we are the co-authors of the forthcoming Routledge Volume on Auto/biography in Canada, the first volume to be written about different forms of life writing in what is currently called Canada, also known as Turtle Island. Doing the work for the volume has made us very aware of the role we have as editors—and as teachers—not only to think through the importance of personal non-fiction in Canada, but also to consider carefully the role auto/biography plays and has played in struggles against racism and colonialism. Since we work as a collective, and because we don’t think the same way about everything, we also feel that it is important to bring multiple voices into conversation; after all, there is more than one way to read the story of Canadian non-fiction. Because we are located in four different time zones, from the Pacific to the Atlantic coasts, this conversation took place on Zoom. We transcribed and then collaboratively edited the resulting text.


Sonja Boon

Sonja Boon is Professor of Gender Studies at Memorial University. Passionate about stories and storytelling, she has published on a variety of topics, from considerations of gender, embodied identity, and citizenship in eighteenth-century medical letters, to breastfeeding selfies and virtual activism, autobiographies of infanticide, auto/ethnography and the embodiment of maternal grief, and craftivism in the feminist classroom. Her literary work appears in ROOM magazine, The Ethnic Aisle, and Geist, as well as in edited collections. She is the author of four books, most recently Autoethnography and Feminist Theory at the Water’s Edge: Unsettled Islands (co-authored with Lesley Butler and Daze Jefferies, Palgrave 2018), and What the Oceans Remember: Searching for Belonging and Home (Wilfrid Laurier University Press 2019). In October 2020, she was awarded the Ursula Franklin Award in Gender Studies by the Royal Society of Canada.


Laurie McNeill

Laurie McNeill is a Professor of Teaching in the Department of English Language and Literatures at UBC. Her research in auto/biography studies focuses on the production and reception of life narratives and testimony in digital and archival spaces. She is co-editor (with Kate Douglas) of Teaching Lives: Contemporary Pedagogies of Life Narratives (Routledge, 2017), and, with John David Zuern, Online Lives 2.0, a special issue of the journal Biography (2015). Her most recent articles and chapters have been published in the journals a/b: Autobiography Studies and English Studies in Canada and in the collection Inscribed Identities (Routledge, 2019).


Julie Rak

Julie Rak holds the Henry Marshall Tory Chair in the Department of English and Film Studies at the University of Alberta, Canada. Her latest book is False Summit: Gender in Mountaineering Nonfiction (2021). She has written many other books, collections and articles about auto/biography, life writing and other nonfiction, popular culture and print culture.


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.


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