The first literASIAN festival opening probably set a record for the greatest number of talented Canadian writers of Asian ancestry ever gathered in Vancouver.
The emcee, Escape to Gold Mountain graphic historian David H.T. Wong, quipped that he wanted to collect autographs of some of those in attendance at the UBC Learning Exchange in Chinatown.
Perhaps Wong should have begun with Jan Walls. That's because the retired SFU scholar brought many smiles with his spoken-word verse accompanied by bamboo castanets.
A few minutes later, Vancouver's poet laureate, Evelyn Lau, captivated the audience by reading a poem that will appear in the next edition of Ricepaper.
Legendary storyteller Denise Chong was also there in advance of the launch of her new book, Lives of the Family, at the Vancouver Public Library central branch tomorrow night.
The Vancouver-born Chong, author of The Concubine's Children, Egg on Mao, and The Girl in the Picture, will offer a workshop on Saturday morning at the festival.
The co-owner of Arsenal Pulp Press, Brian Lam, received a warm welcome from Jim Wong-Chu, a poet and mentor to numerous Vancouver writers of Asian descent.
Wong-Chu also praised Kristin Cheung, managing editor of Ricepaper, for having the foresight to apply for a grant to make the festival possible.
Sarah Ling, who's researched the connections between Chinese Canadian pioneers and the Musqueam First Nation, was also introduced to the audience.
Taiwanese Canadian Julia Lin, author of the short-story collection Miah, and local historian Larry Wong, author of Dim Sum Stories: A Chinatown Childhood, were two other writers in the room.
Omni TV commentator Ding Guo was also in attendance. He's the author of several books on history, politics, and international affairs.
The festival will hold a series of workshops from Friday (November 22) to Sunday (November 24) at the UBC Learning Exchange (612 Main Street), followed by two free Chinatown literary walkabout tours on Sunday.
On Sunday night at 6 p.m., literASIAN will culminate with a closing banquet at the Pink Pearl Chinese Restaurant (1132 East Hastings Street).
Tickets for the closing celebration are $50. For more information, go here.
Below, you can see some snapshots from literAsian's opening night.