15 Memorable Moments at Ricepaper3 min read

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By Eury Chang and Patricia Lim
Published in 15.4

The twists and turns at Ricepaper: chronicling the achievements of notable Asian Canadian artists, writers and performers.

1.1 In the fall of 1994, Ricepaper is launched as a newsletter from the Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop (ACWW), and consists of 12 pages photocopied back-to-back and stapled together. Kuan Foo and Larry Wong are the first editors, and Fred Wah, Jim Wong-Chu, and Marilyn Jung are among early contributors.

4.1 With this issue, ACWW announces the winner of the 1st Emerging Writers Award Competition – Rita Wong for Monkey Puzzle, her first collection of poetry.

4.2 Ricepaper is officially published in a magazine format. ­

1998 – 2010
From its first issue in a magazine format (“contemporary pacific rim asian canadian literary arts”) to its present day incarnation (“Asian Canadian Arts and Culture”), the cover taglines for Ricepaper have gone through frequent transformations (alongside its art direction). Taglines have included “ASIAN [arts] CANADIAN [culture],” the controversial “A slanted point of view,”  “99.9% Fluff Free,” and “About Creative Asian Canadians”.

7.1 In an earlier issue, Ricepaper had published a “rant” against noted then singer/MuchMusic VJ and now filmmaker, Sook-Yin Lee. In a two page “Letter to the Editor,” graphic novelist Chester Brown gives an impassioned and eloquent defence of his friend Sook-Yin. He is polite enough to wish Ricepaper luck and enclose gift copies of his comic strip biography Louis Riel. The letter still hangs in the Ricepaper offices.

7.2 Charlie Cho, then Editor-in-Chief, interviews Paul Wong, celebrated video artist and founder of Vancouver’s VIVO Media Arts Centre (aka Video In) [Editor’s Correction: Charlie didn’t interview Paul Wong, but actually referenced another interview done by CBC Radio].

After the events of 9/11, Ricepaper publishes a 2-page white spread, “dedicated to the voices of those lost on September 11, 2001.”

Profiles and cover features during this year include artist Tobias Wong; founder of the Little Pear Garden Collective, William Lau; Denise Chong, discussing her novel, The Concubine’s Children; and Wayson Choy, whose novel, All That Matters, is a Giller Prize finalist that year.

11.1 Although the staff pushes for the black and white cover photo of David Suzuki during his younger days, the publisher prefers the more sedate colour image of David carrying a bike helmet. The result is the first ever cover split run – half of the issues printed with a colour cover, and half black and white.

12.1 The magazine introduces a significant redesign, transforming into a literary-journal size of 6.5 by 9 inches. This change in format is chosen as the “Best Downsizing Of An Asian Canadian Magazine” by Vancouver-based weekly The Georgia Straight.

With the magazine’s 13.1 Comics issue, Ricepaper returns to conceptual illustrated covers. Guest illustrators have included Shea Chang, Norman Yeung, Michelle Kuen Suet Fung, Kim Hoang, Hyein Lee, Lydia Fu, and Andrea Wan.

Regular columns include Jenny Uechi’s long-standing “Jenny Pop” column, begun in 2000, covering Asian global culture; Jim Wong-Chu’s “Artifact” column, begun in 2008, covering key moments in diasporic history; and “Writers-in-Dialogue,” which began in 2009, and brings two writers together in a lively, often heady discussion around the craft of writing.

Ricepaper celebrates 15 (and a bit) years of publishing.
Take a look at our covers over the years in 15 Years of Ricepaper: A Cover Gallery or purchase a back issue.

Subscribe to Ricepaper, to get your quarterly fix of Asian Canadian cultural awesomeness.

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