North American Asians Write Poetry, or
Thank You, Canada, For Letting Us Land Our Planes”
KAZIM ALI, NICK CARBO, TINA CHANG, PAOLO JAVIER, TIMOTHY LIU, AIMEE
NEZHUKUMATATHIL, OSCAR PENARANDA, RAVI SHANKAR, PRAGEETA SHARMA, and
Presented by Ricepaper Magazine, Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop, Filipino Canadian
Youth Alliance, and the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society.
WHEN: Friday, 7:00pm, April 1st 2005
WHERE: Our Town Café
96 Kingsway (Corner of Kingsway and Broadway) Vancouver
Vancouver was invaded last week by from all around the world, as they
attended the Association of Writers and Writing Programs annual
conference. The Vancouver Public Library's Central Branch hosted
two poetry events on April 1st.
Vancouver's own Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop played host to 10
poets, at Our Town Cafe, after first treating them all to a quick
Chinese dinner at Ho Tak Kee Won Ton house, across the street.
The atmosphere was warm, friendly and inviting, as it was a great time
for introductions as many of the writers were meeting each other for
the first time. Among them was my writer friend Xu Xi, who
divides her time between New York, New Zealand and Hong Kong.
ACWW executive director Jim Wong-Chu made initial announcements and
introduced the host for the evening, PAOLO
JAVIER is himself the author of two books of poetry, 'the time at the
this writing' (Ahadada), and '60 Lv Bo(e)mbs' (O Books, fall
2005). Paolo was friends with many of the writers and their
friendly banter and warm accolades for each other imbued the event with
love and grace.
Afterwards many people commented about the good quality of the writers
and what we had been presented with. While all he writers came from
diverse ancestries such as the Philippines, South Asia and Chinese,
their writing was similarly evocative of the shared issues of Canadian
Asian diaspora, such as identity and place. Being Asian was a
shared being-ness, sometimes it was a central theme in the the writing,
and sometimes not.
Many Vancouver Asian Canadian writers came out to attend the event
including Roy Miki, Rita Wong, Glen Deer, Sid Tan, and Rice Paper
editor Jessica Gin-Jade
Chen. I had a lovely time meeting the writers and helping to host
them in my role as a vice-president for ACWW, chauffering in my car,
socializing over dinner, and bing our sound guy for the event.
During dinner I sat next to Eileen Tabios who confessed a strong
admiration for the work of Evelyn Lau, and had hoped to meet her.
It was great to learn that OSCAR
PEÑARANDA from San Francisco area first grew up in Vancouver when his
parents emmigrated from the Phillipines. Oscar read from “Seasons By
The Bay, A Collection Of Interrelated Stories” which included stories
from both San Francisco Bay and Vancouver's own English Bay, as well as
from “Full Deck (Jokers
LIU brought a wonderful sense of grace to his words while making jokes
about whether there were any strip joints in Vancouver. He is the
author of five books of poems, including OF THEE I SING,
which was named a 2004 Book of the Year by PUBLISHERS WEEKLY. He is an
associate professor of English at William
Paterson University and a member of the core faculty at the Bennington
Writing Seminars, Liu lives in Hoboken, NJ.
EILEEN TABIOS, recipient of the
Philippines' National Book Award for Poetry, recently released a
multi-genre collection, I TAKE THEE, ENGLISH, FOR MY BELOVED,
encompassing poetry, experimental fiction, art monograph, play and
RAVI SHANKAR (not the sitar player) is
young and hip and cool! He is poet-in-residence at Central Connecticut State University and the
founding editor of the online journal of the arts is currently editing an anthology
of South Asian, East Asian, and Middle Eastern poetry. You can read an
interview with him at: www.jacketmagazine.com/16/dev-iv-shank.html.
ALI is the author of the novel “Quinn's Passage.” He is assistant
professor of Liberal Arts at The Culinary Institute of America and an
editor with Nightboat Books. His first book of poems “The Far Mosque”
will be published this October by Alice James.
NICK CARBO's latest book is Andalusian Dawn. He lives in Hollywood, FL and teaches in the MFA program at University of Miami.
CHANG, the author of Half-Lit Houses (Four Way Books, 2004), She has received awards
from the Academy of American Poets, the New York Foundation for the
Arts, Poets & Writers, the Van Lier Foundation among many others. She currently teaches at Hunter College.
NEZHUKUMATATHIL is the author of _Miracle Fruit_ (Tupelo 2003), winner
of the Tupelo Press Judge's Prize, ForeWord Magazine Poetry Book of the
Year, and the Global Literary Filipino Award, and was a finalist for
the Asian American Literary Award and the Glasgow Prize. She is
assistant professor of English at State University of New
York-Fredonia, right in the heart of Western NY's cherry and
berry country, where she lives with her dog, Villanelle.
PRAGEETA SHARMA is the author of
Bliss to Fill (Subpress Books) and The Opening Question (Fence Books).
She teaches in the graduate creative writing program at New School
University and in the low residency BA program at Goddard College. She
lives in Brooklyn, New York.
All the Asian American poets expressed a gratefullness and excitement
at ACWW's hosting and organizing of the evening's event, asking if we
did this on an annual basis. They were very surprised to learn
that we organized events throughout the year, with a special emphasis
in May for Asian Heritage Month in partnership with ExplorASIAN
Hopefully there will be pictures coming, as well as an upcoming review article in Rice Paper Magazine, and some more reflections…