May 5, 2017

Jim Wong-Chu's Recollections of Asian Canadian Writing

The following is a conversation I had with Jim Wong-Chu in 2010. As I was doing some spring cleaning with my files, I came across a transcription of his words to me in an interview I had with him.  I thought it an appropriate way to honour the man who devoted his life to nurturing emerging writers. A #ThrowBackThursday, too.  

[Jim Wong-Chu]

The funding members of the organization goes back to the 1960s credit goes to SKY Lee, Paul Yee, Rick Shiomi, Sean Gunn, Garrick Chu and myself. We were a support group originally called the Chinese Canadian Writers Workshop. Our counterpart was the Powell Street Review, a Japanese-Canadian group that later spawned the Powell Street Festival and a ground-breaking photo book project called Dream of Riches. Members of the two groups later collaborated on the first Asian Canadian anthology in 1979 called Inalienable Rice. By the late 1970's, Paul Yee (Teach Me How To Fly Skyfighter, Saltwater City and Tales of Gold Mountain), Sky Lee (Disappearing Moon Cafe) and myself (Chinatown Ghost) also got published. We looked around and decided that we needed to create a new genre of Asian Canadian literature, and began to embark to attract and support emerging writers. We set up workshops and discussed creative writing.

In 1995, the small group of around twenty all of a sudden blossomed into seventy or more members.  As many of them were coming out of the universities and starting out on their own, these students were curious about us and wanted to explore their own identity in their writing. They could not get the same positive reinforcement in their classes because often they fell isolated from their Caucasian peers.

An opportunity came around with the Many-Mouthed Bird anthology project with Bennett Lee and myself at the helm. I went out to search for every Chinese Canadian writer that had published in the past and that's when I discovered people like Wayson Choy.  He had published a short fiction piece "Jade Peony" in UBC's Prism Magazine in the late 1960s and was largely forgotten and, up to then, toiling away teaching English at Humber College in Toronto. I had missed Fred Wah because none of his work had any content related to his cultural background -- it was much later when he published "Waiting for Saskatchewan" that we finally connected.  

In Many-Mouthed Birds, we showcased the first batch of emerging Chinese Canadian writers.  At the same time, I was working closely with the editor and publisher to help develop and launch Sky Lee's Disappearing Moon Cafe and Wayson Choy's acclaimed Jade Peony onto the Canadian literary scene.

Turning ACWW into a non-profit society in 1995 solidified our mission. instead of competing with the writing programs offered by the various colleges, we turn to manuscript preparation. The mission was to find and nurture deserving emerging AC writers helping the through the early stage when they already have a substantial body of work and guide them through to the manuscript stage at which point we connect them up with a publisher. In essense, we act as editors and agents and even legal consultants on their contracts. All for the price of membership. 

In this fashion we have help a large majority of the contemporary writers you currently see on the Canadian literary scene.  ACWW also created a "Emerging Writers Award" to attract manuscripts. Madeline Thien (short fiction) and Rita Wong (poetry) were the chief beneficiary of these project.  In 2008, ACWW continues with this cutural engineering process. We recognized the need to create new voices in young adult fiction. and in 2010, in collaboration with published the anthology.

April 25, 2017

Asian Canadian Community Media Films Showcase

Presenting 8 short films created for UBC Asian Canadian & Asian Migration studies' first course, ACAM 350: Asian Canadian Community Media. The films, which seek to engage communities in making ethical collaborations, cover a wide range of topics. Each film is between 8-11 minutes long. Invite your friends and family!

ACAM 350 Student Film Screening
Time: April 28th - 6:00pm
Location: UBC - Buchanan A101

The films:
Kung Who? Portrayals of East Asian Men in Western Media (8:20)
Created by: Mikayla Tinsley, Lara Blacklock, and Phebe Ferrer

FLAGGED (9:57)
Mimi Nguyen - Director & Composer
Cherie Au - Production Manager & Editor
Kaitlyn Fung - Sound Operator & Production Assistant
Kathy Thai - Cinematographer & Post-Production Editor

Tasting Our Way To Home (9:03)
Created by: Albert Cherng, Greta Shuting Lin, and Therise Wen Li Lee

Dr. Chung and his Dream Boat (11:17)
Created by: Emi Tasaka, Wenjie Shen, and Titus Tan

String Theory (8:11)
Created by: Amy Baumann

Sedai: Across Generations (9:21)
Created by: Lucy Komori and Connie Kadota

Assimilated (9:07)
Created by Sukhwinder Gill

Locating Our Intersections (9:38)
Created By Angela Ho, Tyler Mark, and Amanda Wan

April 10, 2017

Nominate "Songbun" for the Aurora Award for Best Short Fiction - English

Calling all Canadians citizens at home and abroad and permanent residents of Canada: our national science fiction awards, the Aurora Awards, are now open for nominations. This year, LiterASIAN 2015 featured author and frequent Ricepaper contribute, Derwin Mak has a short story "Songbun" that is eligible to be nominated in the category of Best Short Fiction in English. With Aurora Awards nominating deadline only a little under four weeks away, “Songbun” is eligible to be nominated for the ballot. “Songbun” is about a hapless North Korean cosmonaut and his mission for Dear Leader. “Songbun” was published in Strangers Among Us: Tales of the Underdogs and Outcasts. A pdf file of “Songbun” is attached. If you want to read it online or download a pdf, it is online at:

Members of the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association may vote in the Aurora Awards. It costs only $10 to join the CSFFA. To join the CSFFA and vote, or if you are already a member and wish to vote, go to:

The nominating deadline is Saturday, May 6, 2017 at midnight EDT. Read "Songbun", and if you like it, please nominate it."Songbun" was published in the anthology Strangers Among Us: Tales of the Underdogs and Outcasts, edited by Susan Forest and Lucas K. Law, from Laksa Media Groups Inc.

During the nomination period, "Songbun" will be available free on my website at or you can download a pdf here.

To learn more about the Aurora Awards and to nominate stories and individuals, visit:

The Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association (CSFFA) charges an annual $10 membership fee, so both new and returning members will be asked to pay $10 by Paypal. Renewing members can access the membership portal and make nominations after paying the membership fee. New members will receive a Society number by email and can go back to the Aurora Awards website and submit nominations. Nominees do not get any sort of monetary gain from the fees. The CSFFA is a non-profit organization, and its small budget, raised by the membership and voting fees, goes to administer the awards program and produce the trophies. $10 is a low price to promote national pride in our science fiction and to give a small reward to your favourite authors, artists, and fan organizers.
The online nomination deadline is May 6, 2017.

March 29, 2017

Help Wanted! LiterASIAN Festival is hiring a Festival Assistant


Celebrating the best of Asian-Canadian literature and storytelling, the fifth annual LiterASIAN festival brings together established authors and storytellers from different media to Vancouver in the month of September. Taking place in Vancouver’s historic Chinatown, this year’s theme is The Art of Storytelling and the Novel. Vancouver is home to the Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop, Ricepaper magazine, and numerous Asian Canadian authors. So it's appropriate that one of the first Asian Canadian literary festivals is happens here in this fair city. We are looking for someone who wants to join us in the shaping of Asian Canadian literature.


The Festival Assistant is responsible for duties that support the Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop Society (ACWW), and the coordination of its annual LiterASIAN Writers Festival. Some weekend and evening work is required in the month of September leading up to the festival.

Accountability and Reporting: This role reports to the Interim Executive Director and the LiterASIAN Festival committee.

Key Responsibilities and Duties:
  • Updating content on website, social media and related online presence of the festival
  • Tracking performers’ accommodation, travel, and per diem budget
  • Update manuals and guidebooks on a regular basis
  • Research partnerships/ sponsorship potentials with local businesses
  • Working to update and maintain all Board level minutes, agendas and related communication
  • Offer technical and venue assistance during the get in and get outs of the festival
  • Assist with grant and proposal writing
  • Keep records of correspondence, and manage incoming and outgoing mail
  • Oversee the operations of the office computer system
  • Maintain the sponsorship database and ensure all contact information is current and up to date
  • Account for office supplies and maintain stock

The ideal candidate for this entry-level position is extremely organized, high-energy, enthusiastic and detailed oriented, with excellent customer service and communication skills. The position is suitable for a candidate with:

A knowledge and understanding of literature and, more broadly, the arts
Ability to work under pressure.
Have experience working with web-related initiatives and social media
Be polite and professional, and able to work alongside people at all levels

Terms of Contract:
This is a part-time contract position beginning May 7, 2017 and continuing through to November 30, 2017

Remuneration: $15 per hour (10 hours per week)

Interested candidates should send a resume and cover letter (as attachments. Please do not embed in body of email), indicating where you saw the posting by email to: Allan Cho, Please put “Festival Assistant Position” in the subject line of the email.