Asian Canadian Photopoetics Fred Wah’s “Sentenced to Light”

in Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas
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Asian Canadian Photopoetics describes the self-conscious epistemological interplay between photographs and Fred Wah’s “prose-poem sentences,” a process that graphically unfolds “around” the photographs in Sentenced to Light (2008). Wah’s photopoetics, influenced by Roy Kiyooka and racialized Asian Canadian contexts, are primarily marked by figures of ellipsis and extrapolation. These photopoetic tactics support “a poetics of the hyphen, another tool in the resistance to closure that sustains the dynamics of ‘betweenness’.”

Asian Canadian Photopoetics Fred Wah’s “Sentenced to Light”

in Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas



BarthesRoland. Camera Lucida. New York: Hill and Wang1981.

BryantMarsha ed. Photo-Textualities: Reading Photographs and Literature. Newark: University of Delaware Press1996.

ButlingPauline and RudySusan. Poets Talk. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press2005.

ChoLily. “Citizenship, Diaspora, and the Bonds of Affect: The Passport Photograph.” Photography and Culture 2.3 (2009): 27588.

HughesAlex and NobleAndrea eds. Phototextualities: Intersections of Photography and Narrative. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press2003.

Jervaise Eric. Artist statement.

KiyookaRoy. “Notes Toward a Book of Photoglyphs.” The Capilano Review2.2 (Spring 1990): 7594.

——. “Pacific Windows.”The Capilano Review 2.3 (Fall 1990a): n.p.

RobinsonElizabeth. “Introduction: Cluster 3; Toward a Photo-Poetics.” English Language Notes. 29.1 (2006): 26970.

SaulJoanne. “Auto-hyphen-ethno-hyphen-graphy: Fred Wah’s Creative-Critical Writing.” In Asian Canadian Writing: Beyond Autoethnography edited by TyEleanor and VerduynCristl13349. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press 2008.

SontagSusan. On Photography. New York: Picador1973.

WahFred. Diamond Grill. Edmonton: NeWest1996.

——. Faking It: Poetics and Hybridity Critical Writing 1984–1999. Edmonton: NeWest2000.

——. “Is a Door a Word?”Mosaic: Special Issue: The Photograph. 37.4 (2004): 3970.

——. “Pearagraphs: On Roy Kiyooka’s Pear Tree Pomes.” The Capilano Review 2.2 (Spring 1990b): 9597.

——. Sentenced to Light. Vancouver: Talon2008.


Fred WahSentenced to Light (Vancouver: Talon2008) 11.


Elizabeth Robinson“Introduction: Cluster 3; Toward a Photo-Poetics,” English Language Notes 29.1 (2006): 269.


Fred Wah“Is a Door a Word?,” Mosaic: Special Issue: The Photograph 37.4 (2004): 39.


Roy Kiyooka“Notes Toward a Book of Photoglyphs,” The Capilano Review 2.2 (Spring 1990): 89–90.


 See Joanne Saul“Auto-hyphen”134. Saul’s essay on autoethnography focuses on Diamond Grill his essay collection Faking It and Wah’s “Me Too” photo-text intervention and dialogue with Roy Kiyooka. “Me Too” is collected in Sentenced to Light.


 See Lily Cho“Citizenship, Diaspora, and the Bonds of Affect: The Passport Photograph,” Photography and Culture 2.3 (2009): 275–88.


Fred WahFaking It: Poetics and Hybridity Critical Writing 1984–1999 (Edmonton: NeWest2000) 241.


Wah“Is a Door a Word?” 40.


WahSentenced to Light11.


Wah“Is a Door a Word?” 63.


WahSentenced to Light11.


Wah“Is a Door a Word?” 49.


WahSentenced to Light12.


Wah“Is a Door a Word?” 50.


Roland BarthesCamera Lucida (New York: Hill and Wang1981) 26.


Susan SontagOn Photography (New York: Picador1973) 15.


BarthesCamera Lucida43.


Pauline Butling and Susan RudyPoets Talk (Edmonton: University of Alberta Press2005) 158.



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