news | Thursday May 18, 2023

Asian Heritage Month

May is Asian Heritage Month! We would like to mark the occasion by highlighting the work of some of the incredible authors with Asian heritage we’ve had the pleasure of working with in recent years.

The first book we’d like to shout out is Witness Back at Me by Weyman Chan. Suffused with a collage-like immersion of stream-of-conscious voices, Witness Back at Me parallels Chan’s childhood loss of his mother to breast cancer with the loss of his Two-Spirit Métis friend and mentor, writer Sharron Proulx-Turner. Drawing on biology, myth, ecology, and the anthropocalypse, Weyman Chan’s poetry interrogates fear’s flight from embodiment and one soul’s struggle to stake everything on what makes us human. This collection marries a dreamy quality with a relatable groundedness and a specificity of voice that inspires revisiting.

From “Defunding My Feely Map”:

“science is missing its calluses & my mother can’t hear me,
quizmaster to my own Jeopardy! episode

what is (wordless) tumours you (she) can’t

cue the daily double’s

neural disclaimer it begs to differ

looking back is weak but I want to stay”

Another amazing recent work is The City That Is Leaving Forever by Rahat Kurd and Sumayya Syed, a gorgeous, rich, and poetic correspondence between two Kashmiri Muslim poets. Over five years, the two women share their experiences living in Vancouver and Kashmir respectively, bonding over hardships, poetry, and the details of their lives. The correspondence becomes a rigorously feminist record of two poets thinking through trauma together and creating new work in solidarity with emerging freedom struggles across the globe, “a book like a cluster of thorns with some few fragrant petals caught in them.”

From The City That Is Leaving Forever:

“That’s it. We must exist for our own sake – it is so
generative to claim this right. It’s not selfish at all: It
really is only possible to give to others in the abundance
that comes from holding on to your own fearless self.”

The third book we would love highlight is The Diary of Dukesang Wong. This important book is a rare firsthand account of the construction of the deadly British Columbia section of the Canadian Pacific Railway from the perspective of a Chinese worker. The Diary of Dukesang Wong reveals the unthinkable and exploitative conditions he and his fellow workers experienced during this chapter of history. Dukesang Wong’s journals span nearly his entire lifetime, detailing his early life in China, his decision to immigrate to BC, his time as a tailor in New Westminster, and his experience of having a family. This book is translated by Dukesang Wong’s granddaughter, Wanda Joy Hoe, and is edited by David McIlwraith.

From The Diary of Dukesang Wong:

Spring 1880

I have decided to venture to that country they call “the Land of the Golden Mountains.” The next ship that departs for those shores is the one which I shall be on. Because I cannot build upon my own land in this country, it is right that I should attempt to seek land over the ocean. Several men with whom I have talked tell me of the opportunities of establishing a home over in those western lands. While Lin is still yet growing, I can afford the time now to build a real home to call mine. Perhaps it will prove to be too strange and foreign a land to which to adapt myself and bring Lin, but I must try it and have experience of it in the event that it is a better land that will allow me to once again establish a real home.”

It is our greatest joy to have had the chance to work with such amazing writers and translators on outstanding and one-of-a-kind projects. We hope you enjoy their words this month and every month.