Living Hypen is a phrase that may resonate with many of us Canadians these days, that hyphenated identity that bridges the past with the present, and the future.
Justine Abigail Yu, the self-described Filpino-Canadian behind the magazine, said the title came out of a lot of conversations with friends who are also hyphenated-Canadians from differing ethnic backgrounds.
“You know, we kind of like live in the hyphen, in this in between place”
But one friend articulated it best when she said, “You know, we kind of like live in the hyphen, in this in between place, in between different people and places and cultures.”
It was in university the idea began to take shape, and then a more recent experience on a panel discussing the publishing industry in Canada, and the lack of diversity within it, that confirmed the need and the opportunity.
Justine Abigail Yu heard the complaints and protests of so many other writers like her, that there was no place for their voices, their stories and where their artistic work could be seen
“As a writer of colour I realised that it could be very difficult for me to get my work out there because of the narrow conceptions of what it means to be, in my case, Filipino-Canadian, and I know that there are stereotypes and archetypes for particular ethnicities that for me, as a Filipino, I don’t necessarily fit into, and so I really wanted to break down that barrier and create a space for more nuanced and more complicated stories that don’t necessarily fall into a particular bucket or a particular stereotype”, she said in a recent interview.
She decided to fill this space, and took action, becoming the founder and editor of “Living Hyphen”.
With her mother willing to make the financial investment, Yu made the decision to go high end with the final product.
“This magazine has writers and artists from 30 different ethinicities, religions and even Indigenous nations”
“I want people to display the magazine on their coffee tables, on their book shelves and be really proud of it. Yu says,
She wanted the magazine to elicit conversations.
“These are stories that are not often told… I wanted people to show it off and be proud of owning this publication, contributing to this publication.”
She acknowledges that at $30 CDN it is not cheap, but then she didn’t want it to be disposable.
“People have brilliant ideas all the time but they don’t often have access to the resources to make it happen”
“This magazine has writers and artists from 30 different ethnicities, religions and even Indigenous nations, and so the breath of representation is quite impressive.” she says
Yu is most grateful to her mother for the financial support and participation in the project and she says it has been very special bringing the magazine into a tactile reality with her.
“People have brilliant ideas all the time but they don’t often have access to the resources to make it happen so my mom has been a huge collaborator… we’re two women, different generations, she’s also a hyphenated Canadian herself… to be able to share this with her has been really beautiful.” Yu says.
Following the mid-October launch they’d sold out the first run of 500 copies, within a month.
Sales of the reprint are going well, and Yu is working to get the magazine into libraries and other relevant locations.
Living Hyphen will be an annual publication for now, with a call for submissions for the 2019 edition, coming early in the new year.