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Onjana Yawnghwe

Onjana Yawnghwe is a Shan-Canadian writer. illustrator and registered nurse. Born in Thailand and raised in the traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, she now lives in the traditional, ancestral, and unceded lands of the Kwikwetlem First Nation in Coquitlam, BC. Yawnghwe earned an MA in English literature. She is currently working on a graphic memoir about her family set in Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, and Canada.


Fragments, Desire

Fernie, BC: Oolichan Books, 2017.

Awards and Honours

2018 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize (Finalist)


The Small Way: Poems

Halfmoon Bay, BC: Caitlin Press, 2018.
PS8647.A78 S63 2018

Publisher’s Synopsis (From its website)

What strange gravity draws two people together? What pulls them apart? In The Small Way a woman re-evaluates herself and her marriage as she comes to terms with a spouse’s transition. Intimate and powerful, the poems celebrate the courage of a partner coming out as a transwoman and records the confusion in facing a partner’s changing gender identity. Speaking to the tenderness that exists between two people, the book explores shifting bodies and changing emotional landscapes, and examines what it really means to love someone. The poems reside in the stillness of two bodies and in the intersection between time and grief. The Small Way is a passionate record of love and loss, and a naked exploration of vulnerability. The book is an elegy to love and memory, a chronicle of holding on and letting go.

Awards and Honours

2019 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize (Finalist)


We Follow the River

Qualicum Beach, BC: Caitlin Press, 2024.

We Follow the River tells the story of one family’s escape from military violence in Myanmar, their exiled existence in Thailand, and their immigration to Canada with only a pile of beat up suitcases on a luggage cart. It is about growing up as a foreigner in a foreign land, sifting through family history and grief, and alighting across cultures and continents to find a home.

Onjana Yawnghwe’s third poetry book reveals an expertise in language—at times joyful, disobedient, wild, and other times condensed and restrained. A work of over twenty years, these poems are written and rewritten through the retroactive prism of experience, polished and honed, eroded and erased. Sweeping in scope, intimate and honest, these poems tell of the quiet moments, the unruly moments of rage and sorrow, the rough distillation of self, both hated and loved. These poems reside behind the secret, dark door of the self.


Onjana Yawnghwe personal website

Publisher Caitlin Press