Press Articles

April 18, 2012
Book Review
V6A: Writing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside has strange potency

By Jennifer Croll, April 18, 2012
Edited by John Mikhail Asfour and Elee Kraljii Gardiner. Arsenal Pulp, 150 pp, softcover

Anthologies often try to capture the best writing of a particular time or place—America in the 20th century, that sort of thing. V6A takes on an especially challenging time and place: Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside in the present day (and recent past). Its aim is to sketch a clear, sympathetic picture of the real DTES, a contrast to the nightmarish, one-dimensional version we see on the 11 p.m. news. And it achieves its aims admirably, relying on the eclectic voices of the people who live, work, and pass through the neighbourhood. Read more



Vancouver Is Awesome Recommends V6A
Vancouver Book Club Holiday Lit List: V6A – Writing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside
V6A – Writing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside
edited by John Mikhail Asfour and Elee Kraljii Gardiner
Arsenal Pulp Press

Over the past few years there has been a quiet revolution happening in the Downtown Eastside. While much of the media and many outsiders focus on the negative aspects of the neighbourhood, a growing number of residents have been honing their craft in the large number of writing workshops that take place regularly. And many have pushed past the need to “find a voice” and now see their writing practice as an integral part of their daily lives. Earlier this year saw the publication of the latest collection to come out of the community, V6A – Writing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, an anthology of poetry, prose and essays from 32 writers, all of whom have been part of the Downtown Eastside community in some way. Read more



February 09, 2012
MQUP Books Selected for the Association of American University Presses “AAUP” Book, Jacket, and Journal Show 75. Read more



June 17, 2011
Arabic Poets at Luminato
Award-winning poets discussed craft, the art of translation, in an evening of onstage readings.
Read more



April 22, 2011
Blindfold Book Review
By Harold Heft, Special to The Gazette April 22, 2011
MONTREAL – Literary festivals, when they are well organized, are both an opportunity for writers to market their work to new readers and a forum to facilitate a creative dialogue across borders, languages and cultures. This year’s Blue Metropolis International Literary Festival is such an event, with poets from around the world, including John Mikhail Asfour, Edvins Raups and Oliver Scharpf, bringing radically different poetic traditions, styles and themes to a singular conversation.
Asfour, one of Canada’s most gifted and underappreciated poets, recently released Blindfold, his fifth book of poetry. Born in Aitaneat, Lebanon, Asfour was blinded at the age of 13 as a result of a grenade explosion during the Lebanon Crisis of 1958; he immigrated to Montreal in 1968, where he has worked as a literature professor, translator and writer. Read more



Book Review of When the Words Burn

MARWAN HASSAN, The Confusion of Stones:
Two Novellas. Cormorant, n.p.

JOHN MIKHAIL ASFOUR, ed. & tr., When the Words Burn: An Anthology of Modern Arabic Poetry: ig^.5-ig8y. Cormorant, n.p.

When the Words Burn is a solid scholarly work of translation, prefaced by a thorough 6o-page introduction covering over forty years of progress in modern Arabic poetry. John Mikh ail Asfour anthologizes major, representative works by thirty-five Arab poets: his accomplishment manifests patience, dedication and a clear control of the task undertaken. Read more