Fred Wah shines at Gung Haggis Fat Choy World Poetry night event

Fred Wah shines at Gung Haggis Fat Choy World Poetry night event at Vancouver Public Library


Fred
Wah held the audience in thrall
as he read his poems at the recent Gung
Haggis Fat Choy World Poetry Night reading January 17, at the Vancouver
Public Library, Central Branch.  Wah read poems from his many
works such as Diamond Grill and the collection Waiting for Sasketchewan
which had won him the Govenor General's Award for Poetry.  Wah
chose many poems to fit the evening's hybrid theme, many of them about
food.  He spoke about how food transcended cultures and recalled
the foods he had grown up with.  Just over 100 people attended the
evening and listend to Wah speek about his experiences growing up
hybrid between his father's mixed Irish, Scottish and Chinese heredity
and his mother's Swedish family while growing up in Canada's not always
multicultural-friendly communities. 



“It's not
always multicultural pretty,”
Wah  told the audience attending the
poetry event that blended together aspects of Scottish and Chinese
cultures and heredity to celebrate the relative proximity of Robbie
Burns Day (January 25) and Chinese New Year (this year on February 9).
Wha also talked about the challenges of growing up between the cultures
in Canada.  Co-host Todd Wong also addressed how early Scottish
pioneers and Chinese pioneers were often at different ends of disputes
– but now many cultures have married inter-racially in today's Canada,
including Scottish and Chinese pioneer descendents.



Scottish-born poet Dugald Christie, also a Civil Rights lawyer  read both
his own poems and a bit of Burns.  Beijing-born poet Shirley
Sue-A-Quan read part of a long poem, that addressed the many different
immigrant cultures coming to Canada.  Bagpiper Joe McDonald had
led the poet procession into the room playing both an original song
titled “Gung Haggis Fat Choy” as well as “Scotland the Brave.”  He
later lead a singalong of Loch Lomand and performed an original song
for which he also played a chinese flute.



This incredible culturally diverse evening started off with a tribute
to Martin Luther King Jr. as World Poetry co-hosts Alejandro
Mujica-Olea and Ariadne Sawyer recognized the birthday of the American
Civil Rights leader. Co-host Todd Wong and originator of Gung Haggsi
Fat Choy, spoke about Burns as a defender of civil rights and how both
the Scots and Chinese share values of hard work and helping to pionneer
this land called Canada.  Wong then read a poem titled
Chinese-Canadian Ode in Heroic Couplets, composed by Mr. Yuk-Man Lai
and translated by Dr. Jan W. Walls.  Wong finished off by reading
his own poem about immigrants coming to Canada titled “My Chow Mein
Lies Over the Ocean” interspersed with sung choruses of “My Bonny Lies
Over the Ocean” with the words chow mein or haggis substituted for
“bonny.”



The evening started drawing to a closing with a group poem by the World
Poetry collective titled the Ballad of Gung Haggis Fat Choy World
Poetry.  Alejandro, Ariadne, Shirley and Dugald were joined on
stage by James, Jacinta and Shirley's husband Trev Sue-A-Quan (featured
in 2004's event).  The poem recognized the origins of the event
with creators Toddish McWong, Ariadne and Alejandro, and how 
different cultures each bring something to the mosaic of Canada. 
To end the evening, Wong and McDonald lead a singalong where all 100
audience members stood up in a circle and joined hands to sing the
imortal word of Robert Burns,  “Should old aquaintance be
forgot…)


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