We promised you more good. short. writing., and we hope you enjoy!
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)
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.
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!
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.
“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.
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.”
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?
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.
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.
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.
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).
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).
If you’re in the Calgary area, as one of our illustrious editors and many of our wonderful contributors are, then you know all about the record snowfall we got over the last two days!
Is a tough day of shoveling getting you down, or are you tougher than the weather? Either way, why not take this excuse to curl up with a warm blanket, some cocoa, and Aritha van Herk’s “Tough Girl,” a kindred spirit from antilang. no. 1:
In comforting solidarity, here’s a view from Jordan‘s front door in northern Calgary. Take care, be safe, and keep warm out there!
It was the landlord’s policy to do an inspection of his property every six months. He had been trying to contact his tenants for several weeks, but his phone calls, emails, and letters went unanswered. The occupants of the other apartments in the building were no help, either. They kept to themselves. One woman, in the apartment above his, a violinist, told him that she hadn’t seen the couple recently, but that she did hear a keening most nights, coming from the apartment. The landlord waited until the snow and ice melted to go to the apartment in person. His son had died after being impaled by an icicle that fell off the building’s roof- the reason he rented the apartment out, now. The landlord did not go outside in the winter months, if he could help it. It was lonely, yes, but he did not want to risk what the newspapers had dubbed “the Canadian Lobotomy.” He knocked on the apartment door. It was a ground level and had its own entrance. He shivered, standing right where his son had died. The landlord looked up at the eaves. He knocked again. No answer. The landlord began to knock harder, louder. A black shape slammed into the large window adjacent to the door. Its wings flapped against the window. The landlord could hear a low shrieking through the thin glass. He pulled out his keys. It was right on page three of the lease that no animals were allowed in the apartment. Full stop. As he turned the key and opened the door, the creature flew right into him, knocking him back with its weight. The landlord swore, lying on the ground now, watching the bird slowly ascend before landing in the elm outside the apartment building. Its wing knocked loose a lingering icicle, thin and ragged in the March sun. The bird continued to shriek, “Help! Help! Help! Help!” The crow’s feathers were mottled, unkempt. They did not resemble the oil-slick feathers of the birds he was used to seeing. The landlord stood up. Even from outside the apartment smelled of bird shit and metal. And a bit like a bottle depot. An awful hissing came from the kitchen. One of the radiators was covered in the animals’ excrement, which had eaten through the metal plating. Steam hissed, rising from the holes. Water spurted onto the floor. The landlord rushed over, closing the valve. “Hello?” He yelled into the apartment, “Is anyone here?” There was silence. And then a wailing came from the bedroom. It sounded like a woman sobbing. He walked across the apartment. All of the blinds were drawn. The landlord fumbled for the kitchen light switch. On the wall, where there had once been a pantry, hung eleven rabbits, skinned and rotting, their flesh sloughing off onto the hardwood. The landlord gagged and stumbled towards the bedroom. The door was ajar, but only just. Inside the landlord expected to find Mrs. Crawford, one of his tenants, emitting the high-pitched wailing. Instead there was only a crow, tucked neatly into the bed as if ready to go to sleep. The lamp on the bedside table was on. The crow wailed, burying its head into the pillows. The landlord stood in the doorway, unsure what to do next. He heard a something behind him, something rummaging around the den. He turned from the keening bird in the bed and closed the bedroom door. A crow stood on the couch in the small den. It thrust its beak at the television remote. The flat screen sprung to life. The landlord walked slowly into the den. The crow looked at him. The landlord felt like a child being silently berated by his schoolteacher. And that was the first time the crow spoke. “You don’t know your ass from your elbow, Mr. Linden. This place is a shit hole. I’m sure you see why we haven’t answered your calls. This shithole’s cursed or something.” After that, there was no keeping it quiet. The landlord was taken aback by the words, more so by the fact they were coming from a bird who was watching The Trailer Park Boys. Not knowing what else to do, he moved closer to the crow, “go grab a beer and I’ll explain.” In the fridge, the landlord found cases of cheap beer. He brought two cans into the den. “You fool, put it into a dish.” The landlord and the crow drank their beers, the other crow still crying in the bedroom. “She hasn’t adjusted as well as I have. She misses her mother.”
October is officially here (we know because there’s snow) and that means we’re ready to let you know about our September Patreon contest.
The September contest was inspired by our new logos and required participants to include the following quote from Robert Kroetsch’s novel What the Crow Said:
“And that was the first time the crow spoke… ‘you don’t know your ass from your elbow…’ After that, there was no keeping it quiet” (64).
If you aren’t in the know, we run a monthly flash writing contest for our donors, and then post the winning entries on our blog! Stay tuned for the winning entry– we will be posting it tomorrow! If think these contests are cool and you want to participate, then all you have to do it head over to our Patreon page and sign up to donate $2/ month and you’ll have immediate access to our latest contest (as well as early access to our On Editing blog series and previews for antilang. and soundbite).
As we start vetting pieces for antilang. no. 3 and soundbite vol. 2 (check out our call for submissions & guidelines!), we want to draw attention to an important aspect of our mandate: work that blends and blurs the lines of genre. Unlike many literary journals and magazines, the ALP’s publications aren’t divided up into genre sections. We also don’t ask you to identify the genre of your writing when you submit it. Finally, we made sure to solicit some hybrid creators for our inaugural issue to lead by example (like Geoff Pevlin’s delightful translation poems and Larissa Lai’s activist-inclined language play). As a result of these practices, we received a huge spectrum of forms and genres for antilang. no. 2 and soundbite no. 1 when we opened for general submissions.
Of course, we can’t take credit for the idea. Challenges to and deconstructions of ‘traditional’ (read dominant) notions of literary genre go back as far as the traditions and genres themselves, but are especially seen in the writings of marginalized groups (i.e., those displaced/silenced by said dominating traditions). What’s interesting is that in contemporary times the challenging of genres has become subtle and fluid, particularly through blurred middle grounds and hybridity. Consider this excerpt from Robert Kroetsch’s The Hornbooks of Rita K: “When I tell you that I love you I’m trying to tell you that I love you” (97).
Now consider the closing of Eden Robinson’s Monkey Beach:
I lie on the sand.
The clamshells are hard
against my back. I am no longer
cold. I am so light I could just
drift away. Close, very close, a b’gwus howls–
not quite human, not quite wolf,
but something in between.
The howl echoes off the mountains.
In the distance,
I hear the sound of a speedboat. (374)
Note the absent line breaks from Kroetsch’s “[hornbook #73],” whereas we’ve added line breaks to what was, originally, a single paragraph in Robinson’s novel. And yet, the passage from Monkey Beach seems, or feels, to read more ‘poetically’ than Kroetsch’s, whose line(s) behave like a straightforward statement or piece of dialogue. The telling poem and the novel’s imagistic end reveal the folly of commonly held beliefs about the differences between prose and poetry: that poetry is inaccessible (thanks, modernists!) and that novels are expected to deliver plot and therefore closure. Monkey Beach gives us the opposite of both: accessible concrete images and total uncertainty regarding Lisa’s fate. Hornbooks gives us a self-evident fact, a description with built-in implied plot and closure, for what more can be told on the topic?
A piece in antilang. no. 2 that brilliantly befuddles these typical expectations of genres is Melinda Jane – The Poet Mj’s “Kit” (pg. 25). While ‘clearly’ a poem at first glance, we lovingly call it a micro-novel written in verse. Not only is it broken into chapters rather than numbered or titled sections, “Kit” is a long (relative to our mandate) narrative that features all the staples of a novel: multiple characters and settings, prosaic descriptions, (indirect) dialogue, and, that slipperiest of all fiction ‘requirements,’ plot. How could the short lines full of imagery belong to a novel? How could they not?