New Work from 32 Contributors!

We’re so excited to launch our latest issues of antilang. and soundbite! Check out some amazing short work from established and emerging writers across Canada and beyond.

Read antilang. no. 3 and listen to soundbite vol. 2 and tell us what you think!

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

Reader Spotlight: Shannon McConnell

Shannon McConnell is a writer, teacher and musician originally from Vancouver, British Columbia. In 2017, she completed her MFA in Writing at the University of Saskatchewan. Her work has appeared in various literary magazines across Canada.

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When it’s this cold outside, who doesn’t love complaining about the weather? Come by McNally Robinson Bookseller’s TODAY at 7pm to hear Shannon’s haikus lamenting the winter cold of the prairies.

Reader Spotlight – K.S.A Brazier-Tompkins

K.S.A. Brazier-Tompkins hails from north-western Ontario, but spent much of her youth in New Brunswick. She received a Ph.D. in English from the University of Saskatchewan. Her published work includes articles, novels, short stories, and poetry. Brevity is not her strength, but she approaches it most closely through poetry.

She’s the first of our readers who will be performing at McNally Robinson Booksellers in Saskatoon on Monday.

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Photo by Jade McDougall, 2018

On Speculative Forms

We’ve been talking a lot about genre as we gear up to open our themed issue of antilang. – Succinct Speculations – for submissions. But what about form? “SpecFic” is a bit of a misnomer – it suggests that speculative writing is always fiction, and that’s obviously not true.

Speculative writing is no alien to poetry. In fact, Canada’s “magazine of the fantastic,” On Spec, devotes an entire section to the form. Antilangers (as we fondly call our past contributors) Amy LeBlanc & Taylor Skaalrud have employed the gothic and the supernatural into their poetry submissions for our flash writing contests on Patreon. And Erin Emily Ann Vance has published her wonderful witchy poems with us in antilang. no. 1 & 2 and many other mags.

Another form that synchronizes splendidly with speculative writing is comics, such as Crash & Burn by Calgary-based creators Finn Lucullan & Kate Larking. And there’s always the obvious examples of superhero comics. We haven’t received any comics submissions for any of our previous issues, but we’d really love to see some this time around as the form facilitates a blending of genres, styles, and artistic/literary modes.

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Leonora Carrington’s “Portrait of Max Ernst” (1939), a visual embodiment of SpecNF (Fair Use, wikiart.org)

But what of creative non-fiction? Is there such a thing as speculative non-fic? We feel that yes, there is, and furthermore there are multiple ways one could achieve this apparent paradox. A few years back, Edmonton-based novelist and short story writer Jacqueline Baker wrote The Broken Hours, a literary ghost story about the finals days of horror icon / huge racist H.P. Lovecraft’s life. While the book is marketed as a novel, it is deeply research-based and draws heavily from Lovecraft’s personal letters found in archives. It becomes a sort of biography blended with historical fiction and supernatural horror; plus, Jacqueline told us at a recent conference that she loves the idea of speculative non-fiction, so there!

Another style of SpecNF can be found in Numenera, a table-top role-playing game by Monte Cook Games. This narrative-driven science-fantasy RPG is set in the distant future, and most of the core rulebook Discovery reads more like a very interesting encyclopedia than an instruction manual. While non-fiction suggests that the writing’s topic should be ‘real’ (whatever that means), we feel that SpecNF is as much about style and presentation. Besides, who’s to say these worlds aren’t real, floating over or alongside our own, or that they won’t become real, some day?

On Blind Review: Or, The Problem of Pretend Objectivity

Anyone who submits to lit mags should be familiar with the term ‘blind review.’ This is usually accompanied with directions to remove your name and identifying info from all pages of your submission, except for the cover letter (which should be in a separate document). This way only the editor that receives the incoming submissions has access to the names/identities associated with the submitted pieces (and, ideally, the mag has a high volume of submissions, so the editor that does see names couldn’t possibly be bothered to remember them anyway). That editor then sends the works along to section editors/readers and they are reviewed without bias toward gender, race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, or any other label or minority identifier that someone could judge the author for.

In a perfect world, that’s all well and good, and certainly the intent behind blind review has its merits, but in practice, this allows terrible people to be published. You might think, “But, if their work is good, doesn’t it deserve publication?” To which we cite Kate Leth:

We think this says it all, but to clarify, in every artistic community there are abusers who get away with having a platform for their work because of the fallacy of ‘artistic merit.’ (No need to name them here, but we’re sure we can all name a few actors or musicians who fit this description). The world of Can Lit and writing globally is not immune. We believe in encouraging emerging writers, and so we also believe that these writers have the potential to become even better than the so-called greats who get published despite their personal failings and the harm they cause their communities. Obviously, we strive to publish good writing, but we do so without allowing shitty people into our community.

So no, we don’t blind review. We leave names and bios on our submissions so that we (and our guest editors) can see who wrote the work submitted. How does this impact our review process? Well, we have some people we will always reject because we know, through whisper networks, that they have abused their positions of power, exploited and crutched on their ‘renown,’ or made people of certain groups feel uncomfortable (at best) and caused serious mental/physical harm (at worst). This doesn’t mean you have to hold the exact same values as us to get published in antilang. or soundbite, but it does mean that you have to genuinely believe all humans are deserving of human rights, respect, and dignity. That seems like a low bar, but apparently it’s not. We also extend this beyond social justice concerns to encompass issues specific to lit mags, for example, plagiarism. If someone has plagiarised in the past, we don’t accept their work, even if it is an original piece. Yes, people can change, but we don’t have to forgive and forget.

But how do we know if someone is a shitty person? To be honest, we can usually tell from the cover letter or the piece itself, but we also do a quick google search of our short listed submitters. Does this mean you spend more time researching submitters than on reviewing their work (AKA, on your job)? No, because most of our submitters are amazing people! We can tell from their cover letters, their bios, their pieces, that they care about people! Many of our submitters mention their activist work in their letter and treat all their characters with dignity (even if they are not great people in the text—there is a quality about the writing that shows its a comment on an individual, not an entire group of people). And we love this—we love that our submitters (at least, the overwhelming majority) are compassionate and considerate.