On Canadian Content: By the Artists

In our last post on CanCon, we talked a lot about numbers, requirements, and how to reach them; now we’d like to look more closely at what makes something “CanCon.” Canadian radio requirements follow the MAPL system—yes, as in “maple,” we aren’t joking and we couldn’t make this up—to determine if a song/band meets CanCon standards. MAPL stands for music, artist, performance, and lyrics. To be considered CanCon, two of those four factors must be Canadian. But the standards in literature are far more fuzzy, and Canada has a long history of ‘borrowing’ and ‘claiming’ authors from abroad as its own.

For example, postmodern prairie poet and novelist Robert Kroetsch wrote and published all of his early books while living, studying, and teaching in the United States despite the texts’ overtly Canadian content. By contrast, French Canadian Nicole Brossard’s novel Le désert mauve (Mauve Desert) is set in the U.S. and nearly all of the characters are American yet it’s a canonical Quebecois novel. Science fiction trailblazer William Gibson first came to Canada from the U.S. as a draft-dodger but has been adopted as one of the fathers of our speculative fiction tradition. Alix Ohlin was born in Montreal and now lives and teaches in Vancouver, but most of her education, writing, and publishing happened in the U.S. And the list goes on and on, with each of these grey zone cases being adopted or sometimes even assertively claimed as part of Canadian literature.

The question then becomes “what makes something CanCon?” especially when we aren’t dealing with a famous author that people have ruled on. Some of our contributors live abroad but write about Canada, others live, study, and write in Canada but aren’t citizens (and some are in the process of becoming citizens). We would love to consider all those people as “Canadian writers” in the same vein as Canadian writers have always been claimed, but we don’t want to hurt our chances for funding that would allow us to pay contributors or help cover operational costs.

So, how do we decide what ‘counts’ as CanCon and how we can best—literally—count our CanCon for grant applications? We have decided to go with a fairly clear understanding of “Canadian”—someone who has citizenship or permanent residency (the latter being an immigrant granted permission to live in Canada indefinitely without citizenship). We decided that permanent residents will be considered ‘Canadian’ for us because we aren’t in charge of voting stations—we’re a non-profit literary hub trying to build community—and to us this means celebrating a diversity of views and experiences, including those of immigrants who help create the mosaic that Canada boasts it is.

In our previous post on CanCon we asked our readers to let us know how they would like us to count the amount of CanCon in our issues (by page, contributor, piece, etc.) on Facebook and Patreon. We received arguments in favour of each way of counting, but having then considered who counts as ‘Canadian,’ we decided that we will be counting our CanCon by contributor. This will make our jobs easier when putting together our issues because we won’t have to do complicated math to balance page numbers (i.e., ‘if we take this 5 page international submission, then we need 25 Canadian pages before we can take another international’). Counting contributors also makes counting soundbite easier, especially as we are considering the combined total of our contributors from both publications together (the grants ask for our CanCon by project, and we consider The ALP one project).

What does this mean? It means we’re going to start asking our submitters to declare if they are Canadian citizens or permanent residents in their cover letters. We will never share your personal information with anyone, but you will become a statistic (either part of our 80% CanCon or our 20% international). But don’t worry—we’re already looking into globalisation grants that don’t have such strict regulations on CanCon (however, we need to have existed for a longer time to qualify for those, so, until then we will play by the funding rules and count our CanCon contributors).

soundbite Preview: Lissa McFarland’s “09.13.17”

In competition for the shortest piece in soundbite vol. 1, Lissa McFarland reads her poem about raking leaves (something a lot of us can relate to this season, as long as the snow holds off). You can find her other poem “05.02.18” about spring flowers in soundbite and her creative non-fiction/prose-poem “04.26.17” on page 64 of antilang. no. 2.

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 exist 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!