Friday, June 06, 2008

new website, for real

I'm shifting operations over to Come visit there!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Collaboration Issue of the Cap Review

Poetry, Video, Music -- The Capilano Review launches its Collaboration

The Capilano Review announces the launch of the Collaborations Issue 3.4. Join us at the Western Front on March 28 at 7:30pm. Hear poets Ted Byrne, Larissa Lai and Rita Wong; see and hear an excerpt from the recording of Hadley+Maxwell and Stefan Smulovitz’s “(The Rest Is Missing)” with Turning Point Ensemble; and hear live performances of song room pieces “unselected works” by Viviane Houle, Stefan Smulovitz, Andrew Klobucar; “Occupying Army” by Vanessa Richards, John Korsrud, Chris Derksen; and more.

This issue of TCR represents a cross-disciplinary foray into video, poetry, and music - both composition and performance. Hadley+Maxwell’s video made in collaboration with composer Stefan Smulovitz and the Turning Point Ensemble is featured as a series of still shots. Collaboration is at the heart of the issue which opens with an extended interview with Tom Cone, Vancouver playwright, librettist, lecturer, impresario, curator and promoter of cultural hybrids, and nurturer of the avant-garde. Tom is co-founder of experimental arts projects such as song room - a salon for new song collaborations - and a co-producer for CABINET, Interdisciplinary Collaborations. The issue provides a selection from song room: the first six song room programs and a sample of texts plus a CD of selected archival-quality recordings. Finally, the issue includes poems that explore a variety of collaborative relationships.

Tickets: $5

March 28, 7:30pm
Western Front
303 8th Avenue East
Vancouver, BC V5T 1S1
(604) 876-9343

The Capilano Review

Monday, March 24, 2008

Shiny bits

The big news of the weekend is that I've been selected as a Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies Early Career Scholar. Yeesh, what a mouthful! But the cool thing is getting to work with young profs in other disciplines. The Peter Wall Institute focuses on interdisciplinarity. There will be retreats, talks, gatherings, and I'm hoping lots of cross-fertilization. I'll know two other people going in-- Eric Lagally from the Michael Smith Labs (with whom I'm hoping to develop a course on the science and writing of science-writing), and Jennifer Chun, from Sociology, who works on women and labour, and has become a friend over the course of the past year.

Also, I just got a note from Meredith Quartermain, that Nomados Press will publish my experimental prose poem "Eggs In the Basement" later this year. I'm excited about that. The poem began as a writing exercise done on virtual retreat with Monika Gagnon a few summers ago. I generated a pool of language through an automatic writing exercise, and then recycled it in two permutations of nouns and verbs, reusing them in the order in which they appeared in the exercise until they were all used up. Strangely, it ends up telling the story of Moses and Monotheism! Just in time for the Second Gulf War.

And, the Rachel poems are coming to life again in a class Alessandra Capperdoni is teaching at SFU. Mike Barnholden at LINE Books is reproducing the original chapbook in a very limited edition.

Garry Gottfriedson and Souvankham Thammavongsa gave a great reading last Tuesday for Play Chthonics. There was a very interesting contrast in approach between the two of them-- one articulate and verbose, the other minimalist and reserved. Both extraordinary presences.

Backlogged on papers, blurbs, accounting and grading though. Rita says it gets easier.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Reading Break

"Reading Break" seems such a relaxing concept. I wonder if there ever was a time in the history of the academy when people holed up in a leisurely way to catch up on interesting developments in their fields. I did take a brief break to go to Saltspring Island last weekend. On Friday and Saturday, I did not touch a book. Well, ok, may be I touched one, but I didn't read it. Otherwise-- the rollercoaster. Read the backlog of poetry submissions for Canadian Literature, worked on talks for the upcoming conference Complicated Entanglements, and an invited lecture at Idaho State University in Pocatello. Finished a short essay for the 20th anniversary edition of XCP, about reimaginng the notion of the "cross-cultural" in the new political and economic configuration. Now I have to make sure both courses are on track and select poems for an upcoming issue of Canadian Literature themed "Women in Diaspora." Missed pirate girls Jill Hartman, Cara Hedley and Brea Burton at KSW on Wednesday, rats. Jason Christie and Ken Howe read for Play Chthonics this Tuesday, 7:30 at Thea's Lounge. Don't forget to come.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Beginning the Begin Again

Back in the 'Couv and gearing up for another semester of teaching. Two courses: an undergrad Canadian Literature course in three parts, one on the politics of the anthology, one on recent contemporary poetry and fiction, and one on chapbooks and zines; and then a grad course called "The Subject of the Future."

I've just come back from holidays (and work, sigh!) in Toronto. Caught up with many old friends, though missed many as well. I'm not the only one married to the grindstone, it seems. In cool news, Emily Cheung and Gein Wong of Little Pear Garden want to make a multi-media theatre piece out of Salt Fish Girl. I met with them briefly, and they are lovely, and come from my planet.

The Play Chthonics blog is the Blogspot doghouse as suspected spam. Hopefully it will be unlocked soon. Come to our reading with David Chariandy and Anne Stone at the Green College Coach House at 7:30 pm, January 23.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Went to a dim sum lunch for Grandma Liu Mian Huan, a "Comfort Woman" survivor from the Japanese occupation of China during WWII. There's an extraordinary movement afoot to demand restitution from the Japanese government. Heard much testimony-- from Grandma Liu herself, and on video, from both soldiers and victims. Today, thinking much about the use of testimony. Politically it makes sense. And psychically, for the individual in question? Psychoanalysis would say moves the subject out of repression, into mourning, or "working through." In relationship to the survivors-- the women-- that makes sense to me. But one of the testemonials was from a former solider, recounting what he and his compatriots did. When is the articulation a reproduction of the violence, and when is it "working through"? What if it is both?

In the evening, wonderful readings and discussion from both Wayde Compton and Lee Maracle for the Play Chthonics series. Wayde read from a short story about mixed-race conjoined twins attempting to understand their father's history. Lee read from Daughters. Lots of discussion about writing, the confluence of history, biomythography and a double-headed snake.

Monday, December 03, 2007


... the passing of Jane Rule. There's a good obituary in the Globe.

Braved the snow to make the West Coast Line launch at 1067 Granville on Saturday, and afterwards went to Richards on Richards to see Les Savy Favs, and help my friend Sandra celebrate her birthday. Energetic art rock gets to the gut of masculinity.

Late night stroll home over the Granville Street bridge. There was a jeep, speeding and swimming all over the road. It lost control and went flying up onto the sidewalk. And then climbed back down on it's fat, indestructible wheels. Afterwards the bridge was so quiet. Granville Island below, covered in Xmas lights and snow-- still, pretty and muffled.

Come to the Coach House at Green College (UBC) tonight for Lee Maracle and Wayde Compton. 7:30.

Friday, November 30, 2007

new website

I've been converted to the mac side...
I have a new website. I may change the host, but for now it's here.

research needs

For those of you with research needs, I've just posted a biobliography page, as a separate blog.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

catching up is hard to do

Haven't posted in ages. I'm just winding up my first semester of full-time teaching--holy rollercoaster! It's been a lot of work. All that expectant human presence inside a highly bureaucratic structure has been intense to say the least. I feel like I'm moving things, and making people think. I suppose student evaluations will tell.

There are a lot of smart interesting people out there on the Point-- writers, translators, critics, historians and scientists. And right now, a great deal of interest in and encouragement for interdisciplinarity. I'm excited by that. I'm still getting my sea legs. It feels like I'm always running, and yet the big things move very slowly.

Cool stuff I've participated in in the last bit: The Anniversaries of Change Project, TransCanada 2, the Play Chthonics reading series (come see Lee Maracle and Wayde Compton on December 3!) and a couple of issues of West Coast Line (one, guest-edited by Anne Stone and Amber Dean on the missing women of the Downtown Eastside, and one memorial issue for Nancy Shaw-- the Ham poems are in there if you're at all interested). Last week I went to a meeting at the Michael Smith Laboratories, where they are trying to set up a program to get school kids writing and thinking about science (and "truth" and method). Dave Ng from the Michael Smith Labs is organizing with members of the Creative Writing Department, including Rhea Trebegov, whom I've just met.

I'm diggin' the noon hour talks that occasionally happen at the Chan Centre. Early in the term, heard a very moving talk about surviving torture, and the logic of extraordinary rendition, from Maher Arar. And a couple of days ago heard Alisa Smith and James McKinnon talk about challenges and fruits (so to speak) of the 100-mile diet. It's pretty astonishing what they did, and also what a movement seems to be afoot.

So I'm swimming in the possibilities of this new life. Also pretty darn tired and overwhelmed. And not writing. See you on the next lungful.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

historic dates and personal updates

It's been a pretty action-packed weekend. I spent Thursday and Friday at a symposium called Redress Express, organized by Alice Jim for Centre A in Vancouver. It gets its title from the train trip surviving Head Tax payers took across the country earlier this year to hear Stephen Harper apologize for that nasty piece of racist legislation that forced Chinese immigrants to pay ever increasing amounts of money to enter the country between 1885 and 1923, before the government passed legislation that excluded us altogether. Redress Express, the symposium, is happening in conjunction with a range of activities dubbed Anniversaries of Change, which marks the 1907 Anti-Asiatic Riots in Vancouver, the 1947 repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act, the 1967 Citizenship Act and the 1997 "return" of Hong Kong to China, which triggered a large wave of immigration to the West Coast of Canada.

The first panel was particularly inspiring. Chris Lee talked about the problems of linear history, the arbitrariness of the number seven, and the act of commemoration. Kirsten McAllister followed with a discussion of events such at the Komagata Maru incident as one among many other incidents not marked by 'o7' that contribute to histories of trauma and exclusion. Her discussion focussed the difficulties of embodied experience for the traumatized, and the tension between those kinds of history that are articulable and those that, precisely because of their traumatic nature, are not.

Henry Yu closed the panel by calling for a recognition that the "white Canada" McKenzie King was so desperate to "preserve" is a myth. He suggested that it was in fact late arriving whites who took the jobs of Asian and First Nations people who were already here on the West Coast, when Europeans arrived. (Much of the anti-Asian sentiment in the last century was driven by white labour movements who resented Asian labour and capitalized on the fact that racialized people couldn't vote.) The Chinese built the railroad because they were already here. And it was that work that enabled the European settlement of this coast.

There were many more great panels and discussions-- way more than I can tell you about on this blog. The symposium was attached to an exhibition at Centre A on Chinese Restaurants and the Head Tax Issue. Particularly compelling is Karen Tam's reproduction of a small town Chop Suey house, part of a series of restaurant reproductions she's been doing across the country for the last five years. Poster art from Gu Xiong, a fabulous rice crispie pagoda by Shelly Low, a recycling of Ho Tam's 1993 chapbook project The Yellow Pages, and a series of photographs of old Chinese Canadian restaurants along Hastings Street by Kira Wu.

Powell Street Festival today. I went to a talk at a location cryptically dubbed "The Chapel" (it's an old funeral home!) in which Kamala Todd, Cease Wyss, Grace Thompson and Wayde Compton talked about the histories of First Nations, Japanese Canadian and Black Canadian presence in the Downtown Eastside. There are so many parallels among the communities in the experience of repression and violence. It was a great coalition building moment to bring those voices together.

In other news, I'm noticing that my ancient website is getting a lot of hits, which tells me I need to update it soon. That material is very old, and I'm not sure why U of C continues to run it, because I took it down two years ago. They don't let me have my old email account anymore! I'll try to get a new one up soon. For those of you who don't know, I begin my tenure-track teaching position in Canadian Literature at UBC this fall. So that's a bio update. It also means I'm madly prepping and can't quite apply my head to a website yet. Trying to wrap up a few papers, turn my diss into the book, and steal a moment or two for creative projects languishing on the backburner. I've also just taken up the position of Poetry Editor for Canadian Literature. I'm looking for submissions, so check the CL website for guidelines and submit, please!

I'm missing my cousin's wedding in the States and am bummed about that. It's great to be in town this weekend though, for Redress Express, Powell Street Festival and Pride. Life in Vancouver is very nourishing these days, both for ideas and for the soul.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Kate Liu and Wenchi Lin speak today!

Dr. Kate Liu and Dr. Wenchi Lin

Talks by two contemporary Taiwanese film scholars

2PM, Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Room 599
Buchanan Tower
397 – 1873 East Mall
University of British Columbia

Wenchi Lin. The Subtle Complexity of Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Poetics

The emergent studies of Hou Hsiao-hsien’s poetics have mainly been cinematography oriented, just as most of the earlier formalist approaches to his films. The aspects of sound and editing are unfortunately neglected and no satisfactory argument of what David Bordwell calls “the poetics of the overarching form” of Hou’s films has been presented yet. This article contends that Zhu Tien-wen’s notion of “subtle complexity” (Miwei) may be a good term to describe the governing principle of the overarching form of Hou’s films: a consistent attempt to simultaneously provide multiple layers of meaning in his films, including the personal, the social/historical/national/urban, the existential, and the (self-reflexively) cinematic. The exemplary use of sound in Boys from Fenguei and Café Lumière as well as the editing of A Time to Live and A Time to Die, Dust of Wind, and City of Sadness is discussed to demonstrate their significant functions in Hou’s poetics. A careful examination of the many symbolic meanings of “puppet” in The Puppetmaster provides a closer look into the subtle complexity of Hou’s poetics.

Kate Liu. Construction of Identity and Home in the Space of Flows in Three Recent Taipei City Films

With three recent Taiwanese films-- Love Go Go [1997], The Personals [1998], and Bird Land [2000]—as examples, I will analyze how recent Taipei films (as part of the so-called New New Taiwanese cinema) try to capture and respond to Taipei’s ever-increasing speed of flows in comic, self-reflexive and collage styles. In some comic but poignant manners, the three films show urban migrants either isolated in their small apartments, or drifting in transitory and segmental relations in various urban spaces of flows—e.g. the commercial spaces of beauty salon, bakery and tea house, city traffic and highway, and the information network of mass media. Alienation, transitory relations and even dangers in the space of flows, however, are not the cause for despair; I will analyze the three strategies the films use to seize the flows and make it home, or to make meaningful communication possible in chance encounter: 1. mediated communication; 2. flâneurial looks; 3. self-reflexive use of signs.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

justice matters

Rita has been working on a campaign to urge the Japanese government to apologize to the Korean, Chinese, Filipina, Burmese, Indonesian and Dutch women and children who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese Army during WWII. Women and children as young as twelve were held at "comfort stations," raped and tortured and forced to have sex with up to 40 Japanese soldiers a day. The Japanese government does not acknowledge or take responsibility for these horrors. Canada and the US, along with 46 allied countries signed a peace agreement in 1951 absolving Japan of having to pay reparations for the war. This agreement is used now as a way for the Japanese government and courts to avoid responsibility for the abuse of the "comfort women." China and Korea were not signatories of that treaty. ie. Our silence is a kind of complicity.

Olivia Chow has recently tabled a motion for the Canadian government to urge the Japanese government to apologize to the survivors. You can do something by encouraging your MP to vote for Motion 291.

The motion itself and more details here:

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Wah Symposium: Writing Public Selves

The Writer-in-Residence Program
at Simon Fraser University presents

Count Me In:
Writing Public Selves

SFU, Harbour Centre
Thursday, May 31, 2007

A colloquium exploring “the turn to language” as
medium and limit in current writing practices.

What are the social and creative conditions of this turn? How do writers deal with the uneven effects of power relations, representation, and the politics of identity? How can creative forms take on public visibility as a critical force in our social and cultural interactions?

Join the writers who will address these and related questions in an afternoon session of provocative talks, followed by an evening reading by writers who have consulted with Writer-in-Residence Fred Wah.

Afternoon Session: Room HC 1315
2 - 3:15 pm:
Welcome Remarks: Sophie McCall
Fred Wah, “Me Too (Two): A Poetics Talk”
Jeff Derksen, "Space Agent Wah"

3:30 - 5:00 pm:
“Languaging the ‘I’: Writing in Shifty Contexts”
Moderator: Clint Burnham
Panelists: David Chariandy, Larissa Lai, and Roy Miki

7 pm, Evening Reading: Room HC 1700
Mercedes Eng, Jef Clarke, Emmanuel Raymundo, Neda Abkari, Peter Quartermain, Meg Walker, Tony Power, Joy Russell, Emily Fedoruk, Andrew Lee

With Thanks
Sponsored by the Writer-in-Residence Program with funding assistance from the Canada Council, the Office of the President, and the Dean of Arts and Social Sciences, Simon Fraser University

Monday, May 14, 2007

Tectonic Plague

Come help kick off an exciting new reading series!

*Play Chthonics* Spring Reading

: Fred Booker
: Hiromi Goto
: Dorothy Trujillo Lusk
: Meredith Quartermain

READING 7:30 pm


(Green College is located at the north end of the UBC campus, across the street (north) from the Chan Center for the Performing Arts, east of the Museum of Anthropology. Parking available adjacent to Green College.)

Organized by graduate students and faculty in the English Department and the Program in Comparative Literature at UBC, *Play Chthonics* is a 2007/2008 Writers Reading Series that focuses on innovative poetry, narrative, and cross-genre experimentation.

Author biographies:

Fred Booker has been writing in Canada since 1966. His first book, a collection of short stories titled Adventures in Debt Collection, was published September 2006 by Commodore Books in Vancouver. Stories from the collection have appeared in Event, Windsor Review, Whetstone and West Coast Line and have been read on Peter Norman's show HEARSAY. He lives and writes in Burnaby.

Hiromi Goto has published short stories and critical writing in, among others, Ms magazine and the Oxford University Press anthology, Making A Difference. Her first novel, Chorus of Mushrooms, was the 1995 recipient of the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize Best First Book Canada and Caribbean Region and the co-winner of the Canada-Japan Book Award. Her second novel, The Kappa Child, was the 2001 winner of the James Tiptree Jr. Memorial Award and was short-listed for the regional Commonwealth Writer’s Prize, Best Book Award. Her most recent book, Hopeful Monsters, (Arsenal) is a collection of short stories.

Dorothy Trujillo Lusk is a Vancouver poet and the author of Oral Tragedy (Tsunami, 1988), Redactive (Talon, 1993), Sleek Vinyl Drill (Thuja, 2000), Ogress Oblige (Krupskaya, 2001) and the forthcoming collection Decorum. Lusk is a longtime member of the Kootenay School of Writing collective. She was awarded The Small Press Traffic Book Award for Ogresse Oblige in 2001.

Meredith Quartermain won a BC Book Award in 2006, the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize, for her most recent book: Vancouver Walking (NeWest). Other books and chapbooks include Terms of Sale (1996), A Thousand Mornings (2002) and The Eye-Shift of Surface (2003). Wanders (2002) contains her poem answers to 19 poems by Robin Blaser. Her work has also appeared in Canadian Literature, Prism International, The Capilano Review, West Coast Line, Raddle Moon, Ecopoetics, Chain, Sulfur, Tinfish and other magazines. She runs, with husband Peter Quartermain, Nomados Literary Publishers, in Vancouver, BC.