September 22, 2023

"Poetic Responses to the Archive" at Word Vancouver Festival 2023

UBC Library’s Rare Books and Special Collections, in partnership with Word Vancouver, is proud to facilitate a session with two poets whose work responds to archival materials in our holdings. Rina Garcia Chua will perform three poems from her upcoming poetry chapbook, “A Geography of (Un)Natural Hazards.” 

These pieces are poetic responses to the Jim Wong-Chu fonds and the Chinese Canadian Research Collection at the UBC Vancouver’s Rare Books & Special Collections archives. They are visual and aural poems that embody the counternarratives of migrant labour, migration, and environmental extraction that resist and negate Canadian “multiculturalism.” Rina’s work thinks through where and when these counter-narratives emerge. 

It also shows how these are cathartic effects of her time researching in the archives with materials that force her to confront the reality of being and existing in a nation conceptualized through the symbolic and material violence against racialized and minority communities. Carolyn Nakagawa will share a poem sequence inspired by letters from the Joan Gillis fonds, written by teenage Japanese Canadians to their former classmate Joan after their forced uprooting from the British Columbia coast in 1942. Nakagawa both quotes and paraphrases from the archival letters, separating out unique authors’ voices before weaving them together to listen to both the individual and shared experiences of young people yearning for friendship, normalcy, and home. 

Moderator: Krisztina Laszlo Panelists: Rina Garcia Chua, A Geography of (Un)Natural Hazards · Carolyn Nakagawa