Sunday, February 26, 2006

living wood

My life is so full I can hardly bear it. Doors and windows swing open on every stair. Touch wood, kiss wood, become the tree. Not Syrinx escaping unwanted love but the full tree hug, roots, maggots, rough bark, high-reaching branches shudder with every little change in weather. Leaves brush leaves brush leaves, secrets spoken but so soft even the most acute of ears catch only a word here, a syllable there, a long pause.

Bloggable events:

Visit last Thursday to a joint Film Studies/English class at SFU Surrey last week taught by Glen Lowry and Blair Davis. They are teaching Salt Fish Girl and Bladerunner together. I spoke about how BR has influenced my work, and highlighted some of the relationships between the two texts. Fun Q & A afterwards, and later, dinner at Koko's with Glen and Elizabeth.

SFU faculty dinner at Wild Ginger on Friday. Great to hang out with faculty and grad students.

Birthday lunch with my Popo on Saturday-- Shanghainese food in Richmond. It is really great having her live close by. Good to reconnect with aunts, uncles, cousins.

An idyllic trip to Harrison Hotsprings on Sunday with my dear friend Jay Laurendeau, who was visiting from Calgary.

Sad news: The death of Octavia Butler, author of the Exogenesis series, this weekend. She was a real hero of mine. And I almost met her, when I was teaching at Clarion West in Seattle last summer. The science fiction community has lost one of its greatest talents.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

moment to the next

a time of unfolding. paper spreads wings. lacuna shatters thin ice. much but not yet. lotus is manufactured, real as the hands that made it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

bleed heart sleeve

Happy Valentine's Day folks! My heart is bleeding all over the sleeve I wore it on. Sandy Lam sent me a very disturbing cartoon.

On the happy occasions front, two fun class visits yesterday-- one to Roy Miki's huge first year English class (250 students). He's been teaching Salt Fish Girl and talking to students about polticization and critical awareness. A student came up to me afterwards to ask about durian. She grew up in Malaysia, where it is just a part of everyday life. I talked to her about how racial stigma in country so often gets attached to smell. I talked about smell as a hook into buried memory. It's interesting to speak to Asian students who didn't grow up alienated. Of course I understand the historical specificity of my own experience, but her experience in this geography, especially as one that might not be all that uncommon was a strangely unsettling surprise. Not because it is bad-- not at all. Only, how does it mean we might locate ourselves here differently?

An hour later I went to see Steve Collis's creative writing class. Long, and hopefully quite productive discussion about writing practice, its connection to questions of what is ethical. I was asked to talk about how I came to have this practice. Interesting for me to go back to the late 80s early 90s moment of my own politicization/coming to consciousness or whatever you want to call it. And how a broader concerns around language and structure quickly became a part of my writing practice. It was fun to think about the situations (Yellow Peril, Writing Thru Race) and the people who first got me into this stuff(George McWhirter, Jim Wong-Chu, Paul Wong).

Constant-transit-boy Ashok Mathur is in town. So is Leonard Lee, who is back for the next round of shooting for Tailor Made. I had supper with them on Sunday. Ashok got a bunch of lamb skewers and kebabs from Granville Island, some mussels and some arugula. Lenny brought sushi. I brought a chocolate from the Italian bakery down the street. We feasted. Later on, Ashok's roommate Steve Lee came back from skiing on Grouse Mountain. He's a potter, and had a whole bunch of beautiful ceramics on the table waiting to be boxed up for a sale in Michigan. I bought a solid, thick-walled cup.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

flan hour magic

watching the detectives

big crop of consultations this week. enjoying seeing what people are writing. it's such a luxury to teach/share one on one. i feel like i'm making a difference.

went to hear robert majzels read from _apikoros sleuth_ at emily carr on thursday, as part of the on edge series. he's trying to undo the novel, by digging deep beneath the surface of the judeo-christian tradition to its rabbinical roots, in which what's important has something to with core text but way more to do with the outward arcs of commentary that surround, explain and question it.

Friday, February 10, 2006

moon sky blue

if the rabbit's there i can't see it, but the sky is light. too busy leading alice. the truth is down there. you already took the pill. saveur knows taste. apple bites back.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

auspicious start

Had the first big event of my SFU writer-in-residency yesterday at the Segal Building on Granville at Pender. Beautiful space, great crowd. We recognized people from all quarters of the city, and from many communities. Warm welcome from the Department Chair, Tom Grieve, and kind opening remarks from Vice-President John Waterhouse and Associate Dean Alison Gill. Really great introduction from Sophie McCall, who quoted this blog! (Jeez, people read this thing!)I read a little from Salt Fish Girl, and the opening of another new novel tentatively entitled The New Flesh. (May have to change it. Colin Smith says Cronenberg uses it lot in Videodrome. I love Cronenberg. Haven't watched that film in a decade.)Afterwards did a Q & A that I've had lots of positive feedback about. I think it was a successful evening. Roy Miki and Sophie McCall, who put a lot of work and vision into making this event happen, seemed pleased.

There were lots of great people in the audience, from various corners of my travels. My housemates Aimee Sturley and Kevin Lee came, with their respective partners Tim and Evangeline. Shirley Bear and her partner Peter were there, smiling encouragingly from about five rows back. Peter asked a tough question about voice. I was happy to see old friends and fellow cultural workers Fred Wah, Pauline Butling, Marie Annharte-Baker, Haruko Okano, Erin Soros, Garry Gotfriedson, Jordan Scott, Steve Collis, Michael Barnholden, Lorna Boschman, Fiona Lam, Nikki Reimer, Jonathan Wilcke, Kirsten McAllister and Rita Wong. And it seems there is a whole new generation of people who are writing or doing other kinds of political/artistic work. They asked good but hard questions in the discussion period. Afterwards, I had good chats with a few of them. Then to Steamworks for a beer.

Slept right through my alarm today. Later I'll go to the Roundhouse to hear Garry Gottfriedson, Richard Van Camp and Louise Halfe read. After that, if I'm not completely wrecked, Adrian Stimson and Terrence Houle performing at the Wise Hall as part of Full Circle's Talking Stick Festival, at 8.

Friday, February 03, 2006

rainy day fish soup

Some days I have very specific cravings for very specific tastes. Like my mom, I dream up recipes. Nalo Hopkinson does this too, I think. I love her shrimp and avocado salad.

Rainy Day Fish Soup

1/2 onion
1 shallot
2 cloves garlic
1 fennel bulb
handful of green beans
1/2 lb okra
1/2 small kabocha squash
1 tin corn
1 small tin tomatoes
1 lb salmon bones
2 large fillets red snapper
1/2 bunch cilantro
1 stalk lemon grass
2 limes
vietnamese hot sauce
fish sauce
veggie bouillon cube

Chop onions, garlic, shallots. Cut squash, fennel, beans and okra into bite sized pieces. Chop up cilantro stems, save leaves. Cut lemon grass into 4 or 5 pieces. Brown onions, garlic and shallots in olive oil. Add squash and fennel. Stir. Add tomatoes, salmon bones, cilantro stems, a bit of hot sauce, some fish sauce, the veggie bouillon, a litre or 2 of water. Simmer for one hour. Add okra and beans, simmer till they are barely done. Add corn, snapper and juice of 2 limes. Simmer until the fish is just cooked (5 minutes or so.) Add salt and pepper to taste, and may be more fish sauce. Chop cilantro leaves. Serve soup in big bowls, garnished with cilantro leaves. Warn guests about fish bones and lemon grass stalks, which have to be picked out. Bread on the side is good, with or without butter.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

highs and lows of the salt fish tide

_Salt Fish Girl_ is going into a second printing. Yay! My editor, Patrick Crean, just called with the news yesterday.

But on the stupid front, it remains a huge hassle to get SFG in the US (because the American rights were never sold, in spite of my agent's best efforts.) Paul Lai (no relation) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been having a terrible time getting it. With my permission, his institution is able to photocopy it (the whole d-mn novel)! A year or two ago there was a prof at Cornell who had the same problem. I can't remember how we worked it out. I guess that's what happens when you write books that are anti-capital.

Have you heard that in yesterday's State of the Union address, Bush proposed legislation to ban the production of animal-human hybrids? (Thanks Paul, for that tidbit.) Doesn't he know we already exist?