National Tsing Hua University

Up early this morning to visit Guy Beauregard and his class at National Tsing Hua University in Hsing Chu. We were met in the lobby by Paul, an MA student there who is doing work on Said and Foucault. Short jaunt by cab, and an hour and a half on the bus, watching the suburbs go by– farmland flanks the roadside, interspersed with lots of factories. Hsing Chu is an industrial district. Lots of electronics are manufactured there. Interesting for me, as this is what is also going on Shunde in China, where my (long ago) roots are. Guy’s office tower sits atop a Ching Dynasty graveyard, and is reputed to be haunted. But someone else told me it’s haunted because a woman committed suicide by jumping from the tower. Rashomon, where are you?

The class consisted largely of young women. As in North America, there is a hugely gendered split between the humanities and the sciences.

Wayde talked about how, as someone originally interested in oral work (hip hop), he came to be a poet. He talked about how the concerns of Black Canadian artists differ from those of their American cousins, then shared a snippet from his amazing second book of poetry, Performance Bond.

I talked about the roots of my second novel, Salt Fish Girl, in oppositional politics on the one hand, and an politics of responsibility on the other. Talked about migrant labour, consumption, genetic engineering, Dolly the cloned sheep all as influencing the writing of Evie. Then read a snippet from near the end of the novel, when Miranda meets the mutant durian tree.

Fred talked about working on the hyphen, messing with Mr. In-Between, and faking it. He wanted to be a writer today, not a critic. Read goodly chunks of Diamond Grill and Isadora Blue.

My lively discussion afterwards about things like whether hip hop could be a hegemonic form, whether Fred feels homeless and what makes my work different from that of other “Asian Canadians.”

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