Guest Editor Reveal: Jaclyn Morken

Hey!

morken2019I’m Jaclyn, I’m Saskatchewan born and raised, and I don’t plan on leaving any time soon. I have an English degree from the University of Saskatchewan and now I’m working through the end of my MFA in Writing—so, I like to read and write. I mostly inhabit the fantasy genre, but I’m trying to branch out.

I’ll start off by saying what smarter people than me have already said: speculative fiction takes us into new territory. Whether it’s yesterday or three million years from now, in our own world or another one entirely, speculative fiction considers something impossible or not-yet possible. But well-written speculative fiction should make me believe it is possible, here and now.

For that, I’m looking for strong characters.

Sure, a real challenge of writing spec fic, especially in shorter pieces, is creating this believable new world without losing the reader’s attention. But a story’s concept could be stunning, its worldbuilding masterful, and it will still fall flat if its characters don’t resonate.

If I can believe that these characters are real—if they have personality and motivation, and actions that coincide with such—then I’ll believe almost anything thrown at them. And I want to believe in those impossible worlds and situations, because I want to see what these characters are made of.

My writing generally starts with a “what if” situation, and I guess, in a nutshell, that’s what speculative fiction means to me. What if the terrible, the fantastic, the impossible collides with the mundane? What if an ordinary individual interacts with the extraordinary?

Show me. I want to know what happens next.

Guest Editor Reveal: Simon Böhm

Hi there, my name is Simon and I’m from Germany, which used to be the land of poets and thinkers and is now the country of cars and beer. I came to Canada in 2016 for my MFA in Writing at the University of Saskatchewan and decided to stay. So here I am.simon2019portrait

First off, I hate the term Speculative Fiction (isn’t the word fiction implying speculation anyway? Asking for a friend) but what can you do. To me, SpecFic includes everything with a fantastic element. Alternative history? Check. Fantasy? Check. SciFi? Check. Magical realism? Check. Horror? Mostly check.

Personally, I love everything horror – especially King, Barker, Herbert – and a lot of classic Science Fiction by the likes of Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, or Isaac Asimov. Those genres have a tendency to produce longer works and stories, which I attribute to the fact that they require a certain amount of buildup or world-building to achieve their goal. The shorter the story, the more universal and familiar the initial situation has to be in my opinion.

Why does this matter? As an editor for antilang., I’m not necessarily looking for an original genius – though if you can deliver the next archetype villain, that’s great. But you don’t need to create the next creature for Stephenie Meyer to ruin. I prefer a well-written, engaging, classic story over a messy but original one any day of the week. Effect is king, especially in horror. Scare me. Knock my socks off. Make me smile (in a sadistic, maniacal way) and go: that was awesome!

I guess that’s it. Here’s my hand. Now take me to the land of your imagination, no matter how weird or dark it is. Just a heads up: like a lizard that dismembers its own tail, I can let go of my hand. So if you turn around and I’m not there anymore, you lost me. But that won’t happen. Not with you. Right?

Here’s the Plan: Themed Issue Previews

We don’t have time for new year, new me because we’re too busy with the new ALP!

Over the course of an amazing year establishing antilang. and putting together our first three issues, we noticed contributors tend to gravitate toward certain themes and genres. So, to encourage good short writing in these areas while giving our issues more cohesion and nuance, we’ve decided that our next three issues (antilang. no. 4-6) will be themed. We’re hoping to invite guest editors to help out with each issue (we already have two on board for no. 4—stay tuned for the big reveal!) and lend broader and more diverse perspectives to our team.

“But what are the themes?” you ask. Without further adieu, here’s the plan:

antilang. no. 4: Succinct Speculations (Spring 2019)

  • SciFi, fantasy, weird, horror, alternate history/present/reality, etc.
  • Details on guest editors, their definitions of “spec fic,” and what they’re looking for in submissions coming soon!
  • Submissions open Feb. 1st
no. 4 font idea
font prototype for antilang. no. 4

antilang. no. 5: Pithy Politics (Fall 2019)

  • Bold poems, outspoken prose, and micro manifestos
  • Just in time for the Canadian federal election!
  • Submissions open June 1st

antilang. no. 6: Blunt Blogs (Winter 2020)

  • Creative writing from your blog (any genre/topic)
  • A platform for your ‘previously published’ work (because many mags don’t accept work if it’s been on a blog before)
  • Submissions open Oct. 1st

See our Submission Guidelines for full details.

A note on soundbite: our audio publication will be open for general submissions during the same windows as antilang. Contributors are welcome to send audio submissions that match antilang.’s themed issues but we’re happy to hear byte-sized readings on other topics as well.

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!

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).

Record Snowfall in Calgary; Or, Why Not Stay in and Read?

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:

tough girl

In comforting solidarity, here’s a view from Jordan‘s front door in northern Calgary. Take care, be safe, and keep warm out there!

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