3, (antilang. no.) 2, (soundbite vol.) 1, LAUNCH!

We promised you more good. short. writing., and we hope you enjoy!

Check out our latest issue of antilang. and our inaugural issue of soundbite

Thanks for all your support, and lots of love from the ALP team!

(and don’t worry, you can still read antilang. no. 1 in our archive)

Now Accepting Donations!

Our primary goal with Patreon is to pay our contributing artists, both former and future, allowing us to support and promote emerging talent and put them into dialogue with established writers.

As promised in our “The Acrobatics of Bureaucracy” entry, we are now shamelessly asking for any donations on Patreon. We know many of our contributors and supporters are also starving artists, but fear not! We have tiers of donations with wicked perks for each level.

Our modest goal is to be able to pay past and future contributors $25. Obviously this isn’t close to covering rent, but you could get a nice bottle of wine to celebrate. The real benefit, if you’re Canadian, is listing antilang. as a paid publication on those sweet sweet grant applications (we also get to list ourselves as paying contributors). (Pro tip: if you’re a contributor and you become a Digital Denizen you’ll net $1, but we all win on the grant front.)

Thank you to everyone who has supported us thus far. All jokes aside, we couldn’t have made it here without you and we would love your continued support in any capacity.

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Hello!

Good. Short. Writing.

Welcome to The Anti-Languorous Project, home of antilang., a magazine of literary brevity. We’re really excited to be here (and we hope you are too)! On this blog (as in the magazine) we celebrate a three-word philosophy. Good. Short. Writing. That’s it. We will be posting brief ‘get-to-know’ our editors (Allie and Jordan) later this month. We plan to launch our inaugural issue in mid-March, and will be releasing contributor bios and sneak-peaks of the issue starting in February!

After we launch our first issue, this blog will be used for reviews (of books, tv shows, movies) and writing (and editing) tips to help you practice concision and get you excited to submit to our next issue!

Thanks for joining us on this adventure!

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antilang.’s place of origin: our beautiful shared office in Calgary, AB

November Contest Winner: Fernando’s “Mind the Gap”!

Mind the Gap

you say of things that behave in unexpected (unexplainable) ways that they are haunting (haunted).
but to haunt is to occupy a place you are not supposed to be, to exist when you should not.
a sense of uneasiness, the gap between the expected and the unexpected, the wanted and the scorned, the comforting and the scaring.
that’s where you find us.

it’s a place like the gap between the train and the platform when you need to take that single step to enter the train and you hesitate.
“Mind the gap!” the speakers would blare in London bellow, and like that gap, a haunting feeds on — and draws out — the irrational.
we revel when we are not paid attention to.
like tripping into a train, a good haunting best happens when you’re looking elsewhere.

And now i must excuse myself, and, while i appreciate your offer, i must refuse.
you invited me here.
you opened the doors and let me in.
you showed me around.

i am wanted here.
i am expected.
i can’t haunt you.

so, good tidings to you.
someday, we will catch up.
your unesteemed interlopers.

November Contest Winner: Taylor Skaalrud’s Haunting Poem

They can’t see what I see beneath me; marooned & timbered stories.
The sea of history resurfaces, It,
Trauma creaks and seeps and seeks its ghost.
It finds familiar feelings.

Wound in the wound it writhes with time’s tithes – the tides;
the black-bile-mould that festers beneath floorboards that
pours forth from holes in the souls that line these walls
until it touches something – someone warm.
An ember to hold onto to turn house into its home.
But this chill house’s hearth cannot house a lively flame
and so, it smothers shrouded Allison with love beyond the grave.

November Flash Reveal

Our editors got caught up watching Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House and couldn’t resist basing the monthly flash writing contest on that show. We gave our Patrons an image of The ALP’s home-base in Saskatoon (a character home over 100 years old!) and asked them to haunt the house.

Our winning submissions include an eerie poem by Taylor Skaalrud and a letter written by a ghost by Fernando! We will be posting these flash pieces on our blog over the next few days, so be sure to check them out!

Do you want to get in on these contests? If so, all you have to do is head over to our Patreon page, sign up to donate $2/ month, and bingo, you will receive immediate access to our contests and early access to our On Editing blog series. The top three flash pieces will be featured as the winners on our blog every month. The donations made on Patreon are collected on the first of every month, so if you sign up to donate anytime during December, you will get immediate access to all the perks, but you won’t be charged until January 1st!

On Canadian Content: By the Numbers

If you’ve ever listened to a Canadian radio station, you probably noticed an over-abundance of Bryan Adams, Celine Dion, and the ever-berated Nickelback. This is because most stations in Canada are required to play at least 40% Canadian content (or as we lovingly call it: CanCon), and there are similar rules for Canadian periodicals. If you want to be supported by the Canadian Periodical Fund, as The ALP does (because we’re in this double bind of having no money yet wanting to pay our contributors), then a certain percentage of your content needs to be Canadian. This number varies somewhat from one grant to another, but for lit mags it’s often as high as 80%.math-1500720_960_720

We’ll jump into the hot mess of “what makes something Canadian?” in Part 2 of this mini blog series, but the big question, for now, is “how do we calculate that 80%?” This might seem like it has a straightforward answer, but many of the grant applications let you decide how you calculate your CanCon so long as the calculation is clearly explained and justified. So, do you go by number of pages, number of contributors, or number of contributions? This distinction can drastically swing the final number since many poets submit numerous short pieces that get published together while prose writers tend to take up more pages but usually only have a single entry. Consider Jessica Mehta’s two poems on the first two pages of antilang. no. 2 in contrast with Michaela Stephen’s five-page single story: who is contributing ‘more’ content to the magazine? And how problematic is it to imply, through the criteria we choose, that a one-page poem has the same content ‘value’ as a five-page story or, from the opposite approach, that a story has five times the ‘value’ as a poem? These issues get even more flustered when dealing with soundbite, which doesn’t have pages but could be considered in terms of time or number of pieces. And, though we consider these as distinct entities, or sister-publications, do they actually count as such, or should we be accounting for the total amount of CanCon published by the entire organisation?

At this point, if you haven’t gotten bored of all the math questions, you might be wondering “so what? just pick the formula that makes the most sense and send in your numbers.” At The ALP we want to publish the best short writing that we receive and we feel it’s unfair that a great piece might be cut or bumped to the next issue simply because of the contributor’s nationality (the complexities of which we’ll delve into in the next post). We hate the subtext of implied value systems and hierarchies that any one of these formulas imposes. This might sound a little melodramatic, but these questions of CanCon cause us to wrestle with what give writing its value. So, when caught between the rock of grant regulations and the hard place of financial dependence, we’re going to do everything we can by the numbers to ensure the largest quantity and the greatest possible diversity of good short writing appears in our publications. And to help us with this, we want your input! What do you think would be the best solution: page count, by piece, or by contributor? Leave your input in the comments (either on our social media posts or on our blog) and join in the conversation.

October Contest Winner: Erin Vance’s “Crepuscular Time”

I sit, bitter as unwashed and overripe lettuce. I cannot move.

My fleshless limbs dig into the bones of the old chair. It creaks beneath me, wheezing like a mucky lung. The moths flutter like angry feather dusters against my hard, plastic eyes.

A backdrop of yelping coyotes situates me in this house, a stinking carcass holding me in its shuddering frame. The wind licks the pipes and the bricks and I feel it sharp and prickly on my bare legs.

I want to go home.

At first, I was thrilled to taste air again. I was thrilled to be a part of a household again, posed by a man with rough hands, breathed on by strangers wandering through the house.

Eventually, my joints became stiff. The sun burnt my eyes. How I wished I could close them on those hot days. I felt each layer fade, become smaller, weaker.

I want to go home.

The crew left months ago. They muttered something about asbestos. Rats. The house was condemned. Me, with it.

I want to go home. Even if home is a plastic bin in the basement of a department store. Even if home is an incinerator. Even if home is a dumpster, reeking of diapers and mouldy pizza and stale beer.

I want to no longer feel the twitch of cold against my chest through this moth-eaten sweater. I want to move from this chair towards the hollow rattle of the radiator and melt a little bit at a time until I am pliable once again.

The rats quiver in the walls. Their scuttling keeps me awake at night. Their abject screeching scares the moths who perch still and twitch on my coarse lashes.

They crawl into my open mouth. They taste chalky and restless, weighed down by my silicone saliva.

I want to taste the wetness on the air, to blink away the moths and smell the skin of a plucked wren. I want to crawl out of this place, bloody my knees on the wood floor, drink from a cold stream, and taste fresh dirt in the evening chill. I want to be like the moths, and fly away, into the light.

I want to go home.

October Contest Winner: Fernando

“what is this ground?” from-jonah-of-the-kiln da-thumps in anxiousness. even though all of-the-kiln are near, the rustle of the tools against the brushes and their sweaty-earthy smell reassuring, they can discern just one other muffled step-talk.

“why can i hear no one else?” from-jonah dada-thumps then turns to their closest companion, hoping to smell their identity, giving up on recognizing their gait.

it’s mother.

from-jonah mouth-sings relief as mother nuzzles them.

“there, there, come, come” jonah-of-the-kilns swish-thumps close to their feet, then again and again and again until they stop shaking and ta-thump back “i am well mother. where are we?”

“you were sleep when the translation happened, that is disorienting, isn’t it?”

“yes. i couldn’t feel the grass anymore, the ground is difficult to listen to and smells like bad water. i don’t want to translate anymore.” from-jonah pa-thumps with finality.

jonah mouth-sings exasperation and nuzzles them again.

“not all translations are this bad, and it is better if you’re awake. you will try to be awake next time, won’t you?” jonah tata-thumps.

“yes, mother, i will” from-jonah ta-thumps.

“come now, the elders know of this place, we will find better ground up the slope, but need to keep close together and pay attention,” jonah tata-thumps, “this is important,” papa-thump, “warning will travel slow on this ground, you need to listen with your ears to noises you don’t know, not just step-talk,” pa-thump, “tell me when you hear anything,” pata-thump.

from-jonah-of-the-kilns nuzzles their mother back, mouth-singing resoluteness as they move out.

“this was bad for your first translation, but you will get used to it, then learn our histories.” jonah sings resolve da-thumping for only they to hear “then perhaps you will open ways yourself one day.”

October Contest Winner: Amy LeBlanc’s “Can You Hear Me Now?”

It wasn’t supposed to rain that night, but still, their shoes and boots filled with moisture within minutes of arriving. They stood around the spot where they’d be digging and crossed their arms over their chests, in part to keep the cold away, but also because the closing off of the body brought them some sort of comfort. One wore running shoes with mesh tops soaked through with water. Many wore practical work shoes, only one wore rain boots, and one wore a pair of rubber flip-flops that sunk into the mud. They stood around the time capsule with mud crusted over its corners like sand paper. When one person began to speak, it was as if they all exhaled collectively and four conversations began simultaneously. It sounded something like this:

God, you’d think we’re a coven standing out here in the rain.

Didn’t you used to be a witch in high school?

I was a Wiccan.

Who are we missing?

Same difference.

I think this is everyone.

Why are there so few of us? Wasn’t everyone from our class invited?

Maybe people don’t want to go back to who they were in high school.

I got divorced last year.

I had the time of my life in high school.

It wasn’t for me.

I got sick, but I’m better now.

I’m in publishing.

What happened? Didn’t make it as a writer?

I’m sorry to hear that.

No, I just got a better offer.

I hope things start looking up for you soon.

I settled down. I took on the family business.

Oh god, the funeral home?

That’s the one.

Really though, who are we missing?

That place used to give me the creeps.

It’s not so bad once you get used to the smell.

Have you sold any houses yet?

Still waiting for that first catch.

Where’s Dani?

Do we start without her? Him?

Wait, you guys don’t know Dani?

I don’t remember anyone with that spelling, but I’m sure I’ll recognize them once they’re here.

I checked my yearbook, but I couldn’t place them.

Should we wait?

Does anyone have Dani’s phone number?

Well? Should we start?

Leaning his weight on the shovel he’d brought, one man inched closer to the capsule, his knees cracking like the springs of an antique couch as he went. No one responded. When the shovel pierced the lid of the time capsule, a small sound that none of them recognized came from beneath the lid of the box.

Writing Contest Reveal!

This month we decided to make our Patreon contest more challenging and had our participants write a fully realised scene without relying on visual images. We encouraged our writers to give us stories (or poems) so complete that it would be hard to tell the lack of visuals, and they delivered. Stay tuned for flash fiction from our top three winners: Amy LeBlanc, Erin Vance, and Fernando! The uncanny awaits- we will be posting one story a day, starting this afternoon!

If you want to get in on our monthly Patreon contests (and have a chance for your work to be featured on our blog–we choose the top three each month!), then all you have to do is head over to our Patreon page and donate $2/month (or more, if you feel like it). That’s it. (Check out our blog post about signing up if you have any difficulties.) If you sign up, Patreon will charge you on the 1st of every month. This means, that if you sign up to donate any time in November, you won’t be charged until December 1st, but you will get immediate access to participate in the November contest.

Why Write?

Turn on any news program or open any social media app and the world comes in. And you realise, that right now, the world is ugly. Fascism dominates, and with it all the ugly -isms and -phobias that generate and feed on hate. When people aren’t killing or hurting each other, they’re destroying the planet. When you see all this, hopelessness becomes inevitable. The words “thoughts and prayers” ring too hollow and you don’t know what to do, what you could do, to make a difference. You aren’t a politician, you aren’t a scientist, and words feel too feeble. Why write?
At the ALP, we’ve been quiet as these tragedies continue. We’ve been hurting. And we’ve been asking ourselves: why write? Why dedicate our lives to writing?
We have two answers: beauty and empathy. We write to create something beautiful in an ugly world. To remind ourselves and others that beauty does exist. And that taking the time to notice beauty and to appreciate it enough to write it is important. This takes us back, to a time before, when we didn’t see the ugly in the world. Who didn’t start writing poetry out of love? You fall in love, that first time you have a crush on someone, so young, and you can’t help but write it. And maybe those first love poems weren’t the best poems, but they tried to capture something beautiful. So, why write? To get back to that.
But what if you didn’t start with love poems? What if you saw the ugly in the world and started writing your anger? Who didn’t, as they wrote love poems, not also write angsty poems about injustice? Even if that injustice was only your parents disallowing you to be with the one you loved, it was still felt, deep enough to write. And this brings us to empathy, because sometimes you can’t write only beauty. Sometimes you must write anger and hurt. Why? Why write? Because you feel a pain so acute that you must communicate it. In this communication we find community–other people with the same pain or other people wanting the same change. That’s what writing does: communicates.
We can’t understand the suffering of other people or the planet. Those hurts are too big. So we put it in writing. We use our craft to create characters, worlds, and we invite readers to know these people, to start to know each other. We begin to recognise others and ourselves, and we start to understand how to support each other.
So, while our mission at the ALP is to curate good. short. writing., what we mean by this is that we want to bring people together. We believe that through writing we can remember to notice beauty. And we can connect to each other, regardless of our backgrounds, to create a community of writers and readers, aware of our differences, and supportive, nonetheless.
All the speeches and rhetoric used for destruction can be turned around. We can use story and poetry and memory, delivered through well-chosen words to understand each other and to create something better.
Why write? Because it gives us hope.

Introducing our New Art Director!

Hello, we know we’ve been a bit quiet since our launch and opening for submissions, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t hard at work behind the scenes. It’s time to share with you something we’ve had in the works for a little while: we now have an Art Director!

Lissa McFarland has been involved with The ALP since it’s inception–starting with designing our first logo and the cover for antilang. no. 1. But she’s not just a visual artist–you can read her creative non-fiction prose poetry in antilang. no. 2 (pages 64-7) and listen to her read poetry in soundbite vol. 1 (9:02-10:16).

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As Art Director, Lissa will be taking over our Instagram account (and if you follow her personal or artist pages, then you know her comments are amazing). In addition to this, she will be on the hunt for a Canadian artist for the cover of antilang. no. 3 and involved with layouts and designs for both publications as necessary. She might even write us a blog post or two about how she sees visual art fitting into our mandate of good. short. writing.

A proud member of Calgary’s queer community, Lissa will also be involved in helping us become better editors for submissions that deal with subject positions we do not have access to. We have always striven to be inclusive and to help facilitate a safe space for our contributors, but we know that sometimes when we recommend cutting a phrase or switching a word, those edits could have the effect of lessening the voices we want to give space to. In the past, our contributors have been understanding with us and have explained why certain edits are not productive for their pieces. We hope that by working with Lissa, we can become better so that our contributors don’t have to put themselves in positions they might find uncomfortable (we can’t ignore power dynamics, even though we are trying to eliminate them).