April 4, 2014

Vincent Lam and Jen Sookfong Lee at the North Shore Writers Festival, Saturday April 12


The North Shore Writers Festival, a celebration of Canadian authors through a collaboration of North Shore public libraries will be held at North Vancouver City Library. Vincent Lam is a featured author, and will be reading from his first novel, The Headmaster's Wager about a Chinese compulsive gambler and headmaster of an English school in Saigon during the Vietnam War.

Jen Sookfong Lee, novelist and CBC radio personality, will also be on hand. Born and raised in East Vanocuver, Jen now lives in North Burnaby with her family. She is author of The End of East and The Better Mother.

March 26, 2014

explorASIAN 2014 - Illustrated Cultural Narratives: How creative diversity led to my discovery of the Graphic Novel

The term 'graphic novel' is often used to describe a wide variety of forms, including: illustrated memoir, history, and lyric prose, as well as fiction of all types. Beyond its origins in comic book culture, illustrated narrative has hit its stride as a form of literature unto itself, and in a publishing world still adapting to the digital age, illustrated narrative continues to thrive in the printed book form. Comic books have always had universal appeal, and have been reinvigorated in lengthened formats known as the graphic novel.This workshop will explore the graphic narrative: it’s all about the story; how ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity helps the creative industries; word crafting: the art of reducing words in talk bubbles; stereotypes!?

About David H. T. Wong

David was born and raised in Vancouver. He is an accomplished writer, architect and a respected Asian-Canadian activist whose family first came to North America from China 130 years ago. He is a founding director for the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of British Columbia, Pacific Canada Heritage Centre: Museum of Migration, and explorAsian: Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society. His acclaimed graphic novel, Escape to Gold Mountain, was published by Arsenal Pulp Press. www.escapetogoldmountain.com

$25 net proceeds go to explorASIAN - please register online.

March 10, 2014

Cinevolution Media Arts Society's Art Action Fundraiser - Tickets Now Available

CineFundraiserInvite2014_vbanner
Dear film and art lover,

You are cordially invited to Cinevolution’s annual Art Action Fundraiser! Join us for cocktails, canap├ęs and a sultry musical experience featuring the Paul Pigat Trio. Keep an eye on our website, facebook or twitter feed for the latest event updates!

When: Thursday, March 20th 6-9 pm

Where: Federico’s Supper Club, 1728 Commercial Dr (map)

Tickets: http://cine-fundraiser.bpt.me
About Cinevolution Media Arts Society

We are a non-profit organization run by an eclectic group of artists, filmmakers, and community activists who share a passion for media arts, critical discourse and intercultural exchange.

It is our vision to build strong communities through film and media art. Since 2007, we’ve been leading innovative programs and workshops that increase media literacy, raise social awareness and empower diverse communities to share their own stories with the world. Come and see what we have in store for 2014 Your Kontinent Festival and be part of our next chapter!


About the Paul Pigat Trio
Paul Pigat is one of Vancouver’s best kept musical secrets.

You’d never think it to look at Paul Pigat, but behind that unassuming grin and underneath those Doc Watson glasses lurks one of the most restless, combustible musical imaginations ever crammed like so much canned heat into a single body. Blessed with a jazz man’s sheen, a rockabilly heart and a hobo’s soul, there aren’t many genres of music that don’t pull at Pigat’s wayfaring imagination like a magnet.

From solos raw enough to melt the door off an old Cadillac to delicate etudes written for the crows to fly home to, Paul Pigat is a guitarist who can truly play it all.

For inquiries, contact Yun-Jou Chang at info@cinevolutionmedia.com or 604-719-7380

March 4, 2014

Introduction to Illustrated Narrative Course at SFU

The term 'graphic novel' is often used to describe a wide variety of forms, including: illustrated memoir, history, and lyric prose, as well as fiction of all types. Beyond its origins in comic book culture, illustrated narrative has hit its stride as a form of literature unto itself, and in a publishing world still adapting to the digital age, illustrated narrative continues to thrive in the printed book form. This course will help you explore how to tell your own story through images and text. You don't need to be a professional illustrator, nor do you need to have a lot of writing experience. But through interactive study with an experienced graphic storyteller, you will be able to begin and refine the development of your own story, voice, and style.

People often use the term "graphic novel" to describe a wide variety of forms, including illustrated memoir, history and lyric prose, as well as fiction of all types. Beyond its origins in comic-book culture, illustrated narrative has hit its stride as a form of literature in itself, and in a publishing world still adapting to the digital age, illustrated narrative continues to thrive in printed form.

This course will help you explore how to tell your own story through images and text. You don't need to be a professional illustrator, nor do you need to have a lot of writing experience. But through interactive study with an experienced graphic storyteller, you will be able to begin and refine the development of your own story, voice and style.

Instructor David Wong

David H.T. Wong was born and raised in Vancouver. He is an accomplished writer, architect and a respected Asian-Canadian activist whose family first came to North America from China 130 years ago. He is a founding director for Ricepaper Magazine, the Chinese Canadian Historical Society of British Columbia, the Asian Canadian Writers Workshop, and explorAsian: Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society. His graphic novel, Escape to Gold Mountain, was published by Arsenal Pulp Press. www.escapetogoldmountain.com

http://www.sfu.ca/continuing-studies/courses/cpw/introduction-to-illustrated-narrative.html

March 3, 2014

Birth of a Genre

literASIAN 2014 
Before Asian Canadian writing was considered a genre unto itself, Jim Wong-Chu went over UBC’s library stacks with a fine-tooth comb, looking up literary magazines dating back 10 to 20 years. His mission in 1989 was to map all of the Asian Canadian writers and their material to compile them into an anthology of Asian Canadian literature.

“I was humbled to find more than 100 writers, instead of the 20 or so Asian writers I expected,” says Wong-Chu. Taking the 20 best works, Wong-Chu and co-editor Bennett Lee published an anthology called Many Mouthed Birds. The publishing of this anthology created the phenomenon of Asian Canadian writing that exists today.

Where Did The Initial Idea Come From?
The idea for an anthology came during the heady 1960s, when Jim Wong-Chu and a group of young Asian Canadians began to explore their identities. That exploration took them back to their roots and ignited a desire to express who they were as Canadians of Asian descent. Wong-Chu, one of the founders of the Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop (ACWW) and a well-respected mentor, says they are still pioneering every step of the way. When they started, they were in a desert; hardly anything reflected their culture. The library’s card catalogue didn’t use “Chinese Canadian literature” or “Asian Canadian literature” as subject headings. Wong-Chu’s formidable task was to, in the shortest possible time, create an awareness of Asian Canadian writing.

The anthology that is now used as a standard text in school systems took a courageous effort and risk to create. “We didn’t want to have Canadian literature critics pat us on the head and say ‘this is a nice effort, but it isn’t literature,’” says Wong-Chu. They wanted to create something that would pass the test of the critics. They not only passed the test, they created an anthology that became a point of departure for now-established Asian Canadian writers such as S.K.Y. Lee, Larissa Lai and Wayson Choy. The collection was prestigious enough that publishers contacted these writers for future contracts. Choy went on to publish his novel Jade Peony. Wong-Chu published a book of poetry called Chinatown Ghosts.

What Is Happening In This Genre Now?
Publishers are now very receptive of new Asian writers, a success Wong-Chu attributes to the prestigious awards those authors received. Among the ACWW pioneers, S.K.Y. Lee, Choy and Paul Yee have received the Vancouver Book Prize. Asian Canadian writers Hiromi Goto and Kerry Sakamoto have won the Commonwealth prize, while Evelyn Lau was nominated for a Governor General’s Award and Fred Wah won one with his book of poetry Waiting for Saskatchewan. “It’s a very unusual phenomenon,” says Wong-Chu, who still hasn’t figured out whether these books are popular as novelties or as pieces of literature in their own right.

Today, Asian Canadian writers play a much larger role in Canadian literature than they did 30 years ago, says Ron Hatch, a Canadian literature professor at the University of British Columbia and director of Ronsdale Press. “They need to be represented and it took a long time. It wasn’t until the ’60s that they began to be published,” Hatch says. Asian Canadian writers are also being studied at the university level. The literature is popular because it offers a direct transcription of the Asian Canadian experience. As an example, Hatch points to the conflict between Japanese and Chinese communities expressed in Choy’s Jade Peony.

How Did The Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop Start?
What began as an outlet of expression more than 20 years ago for Wong-Chu and other young Asian Canadians, has since evolved into the ACWW, a supportive network of Asian Canadian literary talent across Canada. Surprisingly, the concept of the ACWW evolved from an idea about community, rather than a focus on writing.

Wong-Chu, S.K.Y. Lee and Yee and their close group of friends met intermittently and started to examine their own history after encountering the radical ideas of visiting Asian American academics and cultural workers. They explored the idea of developing a public consciousness and understanding their cultural roots. Wong-Chu says that was the basis for how most of their endeavours came about. These friends became the founding members of the ACWW.

Wong-Chu and others helped develop an award winning English-language Chinese radio program called Pender Guy from 1976 to 1981 (Guy is phonetic for “street” in Chinese). Still others went into community organizing and established Asian Canadian Coalitions in their search to find their voice. Through the radio and through documenting history and people, they learned a lot about history and the intricacies of the Asian Canadian community.

As for the label “Asian Canadian” and what that means: “It’s ironic because we’re hyphenated still in this society and a lot of people question why we want to identify ourselves,” says Wong-Chu. “But if we don’t take that step backwards, we can’t take a step forward.” Ultimately, most writers do not want to be known as hyphenated writers – they want to be known as Canadian writers. At some point, Wong-Chu believes this will happen. Already, things have changed a lot in the 10 to 15 years since the handful of published Asian writers were little spikes in the spectrum of Canadian writing.

The ACWW is dedicated to presenting a local cultural context in Asian Canadian literature. “A context that says we’re here, this is us, we’re Canadian, but this is the difference,” says Wong-Chu. Asian Canadian writers bring a perspective to common life experiences, but they’re still distinct perspectives. That’s why the movie Joy Luck Club was so widely accepted and understood. The concept of the mother-daughter relationship is no different than those of Italian, Jewish or Ukrainian family situations.

About six years ago, many people sought out the ACWW, and from a dozen people, the group grew to 70 members in a year’s time. The ACWW soon needed more structure and the informal writers’ workshop evolved into a non-profit organization.
The Emerging Writer’s Award

In 1997, the Emerging Writer’s Award was established. According to Wong-Chu, it came out of an idea “that we needed to do something tangible.” The award serves as a magnet that attracts manuscripts. Even the ones that don’t win help place the other manuscripts. “We needed a mechanism to collect them, and it’s an incentive,” says Wong-Chu.

The incentive was the catalyst for Rita Wong who published her first poetry book, Monkey Puzzle, after winning the 1997 Emerging Writers’ Award. For Wong, a doctorate student at Simon Fraser University, the incentive was a “good kick in the butt to send in my manuscript.”

What Made ACWW Go Virtual?
The ACWW’s virtual bookstore came out of a crisis within the publishing community when the books were not selling. “We did a bit of a survey and we found that most Asians don’t go looking for Asian books in bookstores. In bookstores you don’t have an Asian section,” says Wong-Chu. They formed the virtual bookstore as a solution to this quandary, and became their own book wholesaler.

The ACWW publishes a quarterly magazine called Rice Paper, which is the only Asian Canadian literary arts magazine. Throughout the year, the ACWW host literary readings, seminars and workshops. For two years they sponsored Go-For-Broke, a literary and performing arts festival that proved to be more of a financial burden than a showcase for Pacific Rim talent. Now, most of the readings and workshops take place in the Canada-wide Asian Heritage Month each May.

When the workshop becomes strong enough to support itself, Wong-Chu plans to take a step back and let others take over. He has other things he would like to do as well. His current book is based on his community and spectral Chinatown beings. “They may be ghosts or spirits or fictional realities,” says Wong-Chu. “I want to create a whole new mythology. Without myths, legends and role models a culture cannot sustain itself.” For Wong-Chu, the world of myths and tradition, that’s the next level. 

Original story by Sylvia Yu (1999)