When Isabella Wang first came to Canada, she couldn't speak a single word of English. Now she is pursuing writing as a career with her first poetry chapbook being published this fall.

Students, English, World Languages and Literatures, Departments & programs

Language barrier and family pressures no obstacle to student's writing dream

May 13, 2019

Although Isabella Wang is only in the first year of her English and world literature double major program, she is already making a name for herself in the literary community. 

Wang, an emerging Chinese-Canadian writer whose work has been met with critical acclaim, will have her first poetry chapbook, On Forgetting a Language, published by Baseline Press in October 2019.

While Wang is excited about her first chapbook publication, this collection of poems carries a deeper significance for her. "These poems have come a long way, and they mark a really big transition in my life," says Wang. "In that sense, I’m glad to have the chapbook out as a way of capturing that."

Writing hasn't always come easily to the aspiring writer. 

"I immigrated to Canada at the age of seven, not knowing a word of English," says Wang. "I struggled so much with the language and I was bullied a lot for that." 

Wang never thought she would one day study English literature at a university level, let alone see her written work published and celebrated.

When Wang decided to pursue writing as a career path, she faced pushback from her family.

"Being the only child of two immigrant parents and being the only person in the family to be given a Western education, I was under immense pressure to pursue sciences or medical school—typical of a family with conservative outlooks and very high expectations."

"However, looking back now, pursuing this route is the only thing that has ever made sense. Through writing, I found a form of expression."

Having found her calling, Wang has been actively involved in the literary community. She is currently an assistant editor at Canada's oldest feminist literary magazine, Room Magazine, and she is on the programming committee for the magazine's annual Growing Room Literary Festival. She also serves as the Youth Advocate for the Federation of BC Writers, and as a coordinator for the bi-monthly Dead Poets Reading Series.

On top of school and work, Wang actively participates in writing events throughout the Lower Mainland—whether it be speaking at a literary festival in New Westminster, acting as an academic associate for SFU's World Literature Undergraduate Conference, presenting at the SFU English Graduate Student Conference, or teaching a youth poetry workshop in Gibson. 

Connect with Isabella Wang

Website: isabellawangbc.weebly.com
Twitter/Instagram: @isabellawangbc