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).

antilang. Preview: Anastasia Jill’s “Kick it”

We’re coming at you with another preview with just 2 days until our antilang. launch!

Anastasia Jill (Anna Keeler) is a queer poet and fiction writer living in the southern United States. She is a current editor for the Smaeralit Anthology. Her work has been published or is upcoming with Poets.org, Lunch Ticket, FIVE:2:ONE, Ambit Magazine, apt, Into the Void Magazine, 2River, and more.

Read her poem “Kick it” here and be sure to check out soundbite for more of her work (also launching September 5th)!

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On Putting Together Issue 2

If you’ve followed us since Issue 1, then you know that our inaugural issue was solicitation-only, and that we used that model to put established authors beside emerging writers. You already know we like work that b(l)ends genres and operates on multiple levels, according to varying types of readers. And putting together the first issue was relatively easy–we already knew so many amazing writers that we wanted to feature together.

So, what about issue 2? For the second issue (coming this September!) we opened for submissions from all over the world. We received some repeat submitters who appeared in Issue 1 (spoiler alert–they are also in issue 2), but this upcoming issue is not a repeat of what we’ve already done. We considered every submission and accepted it purely on the merit of the work, though as we did so, we made sure to push ourselves and our understandings of ‘merit.’ We read cover letters and when we were unsure of a piece, we considered it in light of what the cover letter said the piece was doing and the positionality of the author. This is important, because we are editors, but that does not mean we are infallible. We are also white and in a heterosexual relationship, and regardless of how much we strive to be allies, we are not subject to the same forms of oppression and marginalisation as many of the writers who submitted work to us are. We read your pieces, and we grew. And the magazine has also grown to encompass and support these voices.

If you have submitted work to us, then you know our policy is to help edit pieces–most of the work in our issues has received edits (though some comes to us in its best form). And in doing this editing, we opened our dialogue with our submitters. At times, we would suggest a change to be made (usually a line to be cut, because we are about concision), and the submitter would correct us, would point out the importance of including that line, even if it was, technically, a redundancy. Because although we (being university-educated as readers) could ascertain the message of a piece, the inclusion of that line opens the piece to people not as well-trained in reading. Thank you. To all our submitters who expressed concern that their pieces would not have the same, or as broad, resonance if they followed our edits, thank you. You have helped us become better editors, and we are grateful that you entrusted your work to us and had the courage to correct us. And we are so happy that so many writers–including those who corrected us–agreed with our edits. We believe every piece in Issue 2 is as strong as it can be, and that is what we strive for. Good. Short. Writing.

So, now that it’s edited, how do we put it together? Well, we start with a huge list of our submitters and their pieces on an excel spreadsheet. Then Allie writes it out by hand because she doesn’t understand technology and she highlights the names according to prose vs verse (ish–there are genre blurring pieces, so this is done by feel). We agree on a piece to start the issue–the tone we want to set. And from there we find the thematically linked pieces. For issue 2 this means the (loosely) place-based pieces. We start making lists of names with arrows to indicate different groupings of themes and which pieces flow together best and rearrange so that each grouping leads into the next intuitively. This process involves a lot of back and forth of names and titles and general confusion between the hand-written order and the master copy Jordan compiles on the computer. We found three main themes for this up coming issue: place, deconstruction of form, and intersectional feminism, with five ‘random’ pieces to round out the issue (there is a similarity to the ‘randomness,’ but we haven’t come up with the right adjective for it).

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Keep an eye open for our upcoming previews, because we’re going to start launching Issue 2 previews in the next few days!

Happy International Women’s Day!

Hello! We believe in celebrating women every day, so obviously we’re celebrating international women’s day!

Specifically, we want to take today to thank all the women who have helped us get started–those women who share our vision for a new system of CanLit that celebrates minorities and emerging artists. Thank you. Thank you for talking to us and hearing our ideas. Thank you for encouraging us to take the risk. Thank you for being literal beacons in this system that can be discouraging and disheartening–you are the reason we persist and the reason we keep trying. Thank you for being our friends and allies and mentors. And thank you for trusting us with your work.

We wouldn’t exist as a magazine (or as editors or maybe even as writers) without all the amazing women who helped us get here. (Yes, that sounds cliched, but there aren’t enough cliches about women that cast us in good light, so we figure it can stay.)

 

Queen Bee

And here’s a picture of the Queen Bee who took up residence in our yard last summer, because women and bees and why not? (Fun fact: bumblebees hibernate underground during the winter, and sometimes you lift a concrete slab to try to rearrange your yard and then whoops- there’s a hive! and the bees mark you as dangerous and follow you around for days until they decide you are not going to harm them even though both your parents tried to relocate their nest on separate occasions.)

Get-to-Know-the-Editors: Allie

Calgary born and raised, Allie completed two BAs (English, with a creative writing concentration and honours; Law and Society with honours) at the University of Calgary. She left for colder climes to pursue a MFA in Writing at the University of Saskatchewan. Allie writes novel(la)s that explore female experiences in Western society (or futuristic dystopian societies). She favours prose, with excerpts from her manuscripts appearing in filling Station Magazine, Nōd Magazine,  and forthcoming in In Medias Res. However, various sources have accused Allie of being a poet in disguise, and her poetry can be found in The Boston Accent, Hooligan Mag, and FOUND, the second chapbook by Malform Press.

During the last year of her BAs, Allie was the managing editor at Nōd Magazine (the undergraduate-run literary magazine on campus). She works odd jobs such as copy-editing a manuscript about the history of women’s prisons in Canada, researching environmentally inclined artistic endeavours in Vancouver, enforcing Chicago-style citations on legal papers for an upcoming collection, and teaching first-year creative writing.

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Although Allie has no musical talent she often insists on singing while writing (her roommates go to class and are grateful to avoid Allie’s ‘metalicizing’ of country songs). When forced to interact with people, Allie will offer snacks in an attempt to trick unsuspecting persons into playing card games.