Summer Va-cay! (sort of)

Hello!

Just a quick note to let you know that we will be a bit unreachable until August 22nd because…we’re going on a working holiday to Iceland! Technically, both of us are going to a conference (Exploring Canada: Exploits and Encounters hosted by the Nordic Association for Canadian Studies) then spending some time camping around the island. But when we aren’t doing that, we will be promoting antilang. abroad (hard-copies are packed and ready to be shared).

However, we have an announcement and an On Editing blog post scheduled to be released while we’re away, so it won’t be complete radio-silence on our end (Our Patrons on Patreon will have immediate access to these posts–another reason to consider donating). We won’t be responding to emails, but we will be documenting sightings of antilang. on our Instagram page (@antilangmag), so be sure to check it out!

For those of you interested in what we do when we aren’t vetting submissions or writing blog posts, here are brief descriptions of our conference papers:

Allie’s presentation is cryptically titled “North” and is an excerpt from her creative manuscript Best Before with a critical introduction informed by spatial theory. As expected, one character goes North. The others do not.

Jordan, on the other hand, has a very detailed title: “Becoming Lost: Exploring Absence Through the Guy Vanderhaeghe Fonds.” This paper explores archival absence through a Derridian lens, using a failed genetic criticism of Vanderhaeghe’s Ed stories (“Man Descending,” “Sam, Soren, and Ed,” and My Present Age) as a case study.

Flash Writing Contest!

Happy Friday! If you read our latest blog post, then you know we are starting monthly writing contests for our Patrons. Available to anyone who donates $2/ month (or more), a new contest starts on the first of every month. The top 3 picks will be featured on our blog (and because the challenges focus on good. short. writing., you could even submit your piece(s) to us)!

We have a lot of cool contest ideas lined up and can’t wait to see what our Patrons write (this could be you!). These challenges are meant to get you writing and to have fun with language–and the best part is they’re all one page long or less!

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Our first donations will be processed August 1st (YAY!) and we will launch our first flash challenge at that time.

Here’s a sneak peak of that first challenge, the Fifteen Word Scramble:

We will provide you with 15 words that must appear in your 1-page piece of writing (poem, story, drama, any genre). The goal is to defamiliarize the 15 words– for example: using nouns as verbs, creating interesting images through juxtaposition, or something else. Surprise us!

If this sounds like fun and you want to participate, then please support us on Patreon!

As always, we couldn’t do what we do without you. Thank you!

Patreon: Step-by-Step

Hello! As you probably already know, we are accepting donations via Patreon in the hope to pay our contributors (soon).

But, you might ask, what is Patreon? Simply put, it is a website that connects artists and art projects to patrons (think England circa the Renaissance but online, and instead of one wealthy person supporting one art project, multiple people with a few spare dollars can support any artistic endeavor).

But, you might follow-up, how legit is this? The ALP is a (Canadian) federally incorporated non-profit, so we are legit. Patreon has a 5% service fee for connecting us to you that they only collect after a donation has been successfully processed (translation: Patreon doesn’t get paid unless we get donations). We think this is a fair operation, as it doesn’t require us to invest a monthly fee or flat rate into keeping our donations page active.

But, you might persist, how do I actually donate? Easy. Below are the 4 steps required to become an official patron of antilang.:

  1. Go to our Patreon page and peruse the 5 tiers we have created for patrons. These tiers range from $1-25 per month. The higher the tier you select the more sweet antilang. swag you’ll receive as our thank you! But we understand that not everyone can afford the higher amounts, so we have Patron-only content available for any level of donor, including monthly writing contests (the winners will be featured on our blog!).
  2. Once you have selected the tier you want to join, click “confirm.”
  3. At this step, if you have a Patreon account already, log in. If you do not have an account, then you can create one by entering a user name and password and clicking “sign up,” or by clicking the “sign up with Facebook” button. We have received confirmation that creating a username and password is really easy (none of the usual ‘that password is not complicated enough’).
  4. You’ve made it to the last step! After you log in a new screen will pop up asking if you want to donate additional money per month (for example, maybe you want the perks of the $10/month but want to give us $15 instead. That’s really awesome! You would enter the additional $5 in this box). You can choose not to add money to your donation and instead skip straight to entering your shipping address (not your billing address!). This is for our records so we can send you swag. Next you enter your credit card number or your PayPal account. And that’s it!

Important note: when you sign up to donate, the money does not immediately leave your account. Your donation is processed only on the 1st of each month, so if you sign-up to donate now, the money will not be taken from your account until August 1st (though our Patreon page will display the addition you have pledged).

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Issue 2 Cover Art Contest

What does literary brevity look like? Show us!

Hey everyone, we’ve been vetting your writing for antilang. no. 2 and we’re blown away by your incredible words! Now we’re looking for an amazing piece of art that captures the essence of good short writing for the issue’s cover.

What does literary brevity look like? Show us! Maybe you’ll go for minimalism, perhaps pithy pointillism, or a more metaphorical approach. Look to our mandate for inspiration. Imply and implicate with your imagery.

Our favorite piece will be featured on the cover of antilang. no. 2 (fall 2018) and will appear in the next collected print edition (no. 2-3, expected early 2019), which the winning artist will of course receive a hard copy of. We hope to eventually pay our contributors via funds raised through Patreon and we will start by back-paying people featured in our early issues.

Click the button below for a direct link to our Submittable page. (Pro tip: it’s totally free to enter!) We can’t wait to see your work!
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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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The Acrobatics of Bureaucracy

Hello! If you follow our Instagram page then you might’ve heard that we’ve been working on figuring out how to acquire money so we can pay our contributors (woohoo!). Seems like a simple goal, right? Set up a bank account, be available to receive donations, apply for grants—then use this money to first pay contributors (the ones who took a chance on us for issue no. 1 and the contributors going forward) and second to cover printing costs and other expenses associated with running the magazine. But turns out, that’s the problem: we anticipate running a deficit (or, best case scenario, breaking even). Once money is involved, the systems in our Western world are all geared toward people who want to make money, not people who want to use money to facilitate sharing art. We digress…

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We spent several hours researching how to incorporate as a non-profit, and the implications of doing so, which included being on the phone with: two branches of the CRA, the federal government that deals with the incorporation of all companies, the bank, CCA, AFA, and SAB. As you can imagine, each of these phone calls involved being on-hold for a tremendous amount of time. Suffice it to say, it was a long week.

But, it was not for naught… we are officially registered with the federal government as a non-profit corporation and we have our own bank account (which is currently empty, but will hopefully accumulate some funds for paying our authors)!

So, why did we bother going through all this effort? Two reasons: 1) (as you can guess) we believe in paying artists for their work and want to back this belief with money, and 2) we’re hemorrhaging money on this endeavour, and we want to stay afloat (even though incorporating was another expense, it enables us to receive donations as a legitimate publisher instead of as two cool people doing a thing). And we’re really going to need donations, because we have to exists as a corporation for at least a year (among other expectations) before we can qualify for most provincial funding (but don’t fret—we’ll start shamelessly begging for help soon).

Thanks to everyone who has supported us this far (from sending us your submissions, to joining us at our launches, to sharing/ liking our social media posts)—you all rock, and we couldn’t have made it to this milestone without you!

soundbite: byte-sized readings

Hello! We are so excited to announce the new audio counterpart to antilang.: soundbite!

What is soundbite? Byte-sized readings! These audio clips will feature works we think would especially benefit from being heard instead of just read. We will be uploading individual pieces to YouTube and then linking them through our main website and social media. On the day we launch antilang. no. 2, we will launch a compiled version of soundbite on YouTube for anyone wishing to listen to all the pieces together. The visuals that accompany the audio will be the written text of the piece (unless the author wishes to use an image instead).

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Why now? We bet you’re thinking ‘how can they launch this now? antilang. is still so young! how can they deal with all this work?’ And you’re right–we are probably a little crazy. soundbite has always been a component we wanted to include, and yes, we did think it would take a little longer to figure out, but the simple answer is that we have received some really strong submissions that would be even better read aloud. We want to do the creative works we publish justice, so it just makes sense to publish them in the way that best reflects their merit.

How does it work? Right now, we are sending out acceptance emails to those submissions that would work well for soundbite because we need the authors to have enough time to record themselves reading their pieces. Then we fix up the recordings and put them online.

So can anyone submit for soundbite? YES! If you have a piece of creative work that benefits from an audio component, then send it to us. However, our mandate of concision still stands, so we won’t be considering traditional songs (lyrics with a repeating chorus and instrumental accompaniment). We are not qualified to vet songs, but we would love to hear your other creative works that tickle the auditory senses. Feel free to send us audio clips or text (if you send us text, then we will consider your work for both antilang. and soundbite).

What about length? So far we do not have a specific run-time for soundbite readings, except that the entire issue (when compiled) will be under 15 minutes. We anticipate each author using 30 seconds – 2 minutes (that’s about a 1-full page max).

Other questions? If we still haven’t answered all your questions, feel free to ask them in your Submittable cover letter.

We can’t wait to hear from you!

On Genre (Stories Can Be Good Short Writing Too)

It seems our contributors are also astutely aware that poems make for good short writing, since of all the submissions that we’ve now received, only one (1!) is a prose piece. And while we love pointed poems, we’d like to see some prim prose as well.

you fit into me
like a hook into an eye

a fish hook
an open eye

-Margaret Atwood

Pointed, political, immediately recognizable.

The Sweetest Little Song

You go your way
I’ll go your way too

-Leonard Cohen

Less well known, but beautiful in both its simplicity and its message.

All haiku
Are good short writing
Aren’t they?

-me right now

The genre of poetry seems inherently ideal for good short writing: haiku, sonnets, epigrams, rondeaus — they all beg to be brief and, considering they’ve been around for centuries, they’d better be good!

It seems our contributors are also astutely aware that poems make for good short writing, since of all the submissions that we’ve now received, only one (1!) is a prose piece. And while we love pointed poems, we’d like to see some prim prose as well. So, in hopes of remedying this generic imbalance, let’s unpack an extremely pithy piece of fiction.

Whenever I’m teaching undergrads a text, no matter what length, I always get them to ask the same three questions. What does it say? What does it mean? And what does it do? And when you combine these questions and move through them cyclically you get what we call close reading.

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The piece I’m going to unpack is the “baby shoes” flash fiction often attributed to Ernest Hemingway. The are several stories behind the story, as is often the case, but the one I’ve heard is that Hemingway and some buddies were at a bar chatting about writing. One thing led to another and they decided to have a contest to see who could write the shortest short story. Hemingway obviously won because he’s Ernest Fricken Hemingway. His story was only six words long and has become a literary legend: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Ugh, gets me every time! Six words and I’m like “nope, I’m tapped out!” So let’s take a look at what’s going on in this piece.

First, what does it say? Well, it says there are some baby shoes for sale and that they’ve never been worn. Phew, one down, two to go! What does it mean? It means the baby doesn’t need the shoes… so the baby probably died. What does it do? It punches you right in the feels. Why? And this is where we wonder. This is where we’re curios. And so, this is when we go back to “what does it mean?” and read a little more closely.

“For sale: baby shoes never worn.” It’s definitely in the last two words that you get the emotion, the weight of the implications, the subtext of the dead infant. But what do the other words mean? What do shoes do rather than clothes? Clothes could be for any baby at any stage while shoes are something you buy in a specific size and in anticipation of a specific action: walking. Were it baby clothes for sale the child might have been stillborn. Shoes suggest that the baby was born, that it was alive, and that it died before being able to walk.

The difference is the implied loss of potential life vs the implied loss of an infant; a life stolen away just before it could start acting on its own. And what about the opening words? The shoes are for sale, the parents or guardians did not give them to a friend or to someone in need, because they themselves are in need. They can’t afford to be charitable, they need the money from the shoes even though the child who was supposed to wear them died quite recently.

So now back to the third question: what does the story do? It hits us where it hurts. Why? Because it draws on what a lot of people would call universal themes, like existential dread and the fear of losing a child. “Think of the children” is a common cliché and rhetorical tactic; you can’t help but think of Helen Lovejoy on The Simpsons: “Won’t somebody please think of the children!”

But what does this do? Asking the question again and again is how you get to the social implications of the text, how you connect media to culture. There are tons of different avenues you can pursue here, and some will be more productive than others, but let’s just talk through one as an example.

American literary critic Lee Edelman unpacks the “think of the children” trope in his chapter “The Future is Kid’s Stuff” from his book No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive. Edelman argues that all politics are heteronormative because, whether you’re conservative or liberal, republican or democrat, all policy is made with the future generation in mind and therefore privileges straight reproductive people.

Following Edelman’s theories, you could argue that the baby shoes story reinforces heteronormative politics by appealing to the public’s emotion through the “think of the children” cliché. Alternatively, you could argue that the story’s casual tone and classified ad format expresses a disregard for the child, both the literal one who died and the figure of the child in the cliché, and that the story is actually about money and the struggles of the lower class caused by the expectation that families will have children. Both readings are viable and largely depend on whether you read the story as impassioning or as detached.

The final question that I always ask is “So what?” After you’ve argued what something says, what it means, what it does, and what that function does, take a step back and think about the implications and consequences of your own readings and interpretations. The baby shoes story either reinforces or challenges heteronormative family structures and “think of the children” rhetoric. So what?

So, you have to decide your position on what the story does (and there are a lot more than these two options or this one topic) and you have to ask why you read it as doing that. Then ask “so what?” again. How does your position on this issue, which stems from your reading of a six word story, affect the way you think about politics, about health care, about the economy, about society’s expectations concerning sexuality and family?

This is what we call close reading. And as we all know, reading occurs after writing, so while you can’t anticipate every reading, you can see what might be done with six simple words. We hope this energizes your good short prose writing and that you send it our way!

Happy Mothers’ Day!

We want to wish all the moms (and pet mommas) out there a very happy mothers’ day, and we especially want to recognise our antilang. moms! Both our moms (Kathy and Lori) encouraged us as we talked about this project around dinner tables, offered suggestions and opinions on fonts and logo design, and were among our first readers. Our moms live in different cities, which worked out for our double launch this spring, as Kathy came to the Calgary launch and Lori came to our Saskatoon readings. And since our launch, our moms have been shamelessly promoting us via sharing all our posts on Fb and talking us up to their friends.

We can never say it enough: Thank you, Mom(s)! You rock!
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If you know us, you’ll be able to tell which mom is whose!