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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On Blurring Genre: antilang.

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?

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.

antilang. Preview: Kevin Stebner’s “Oilspill”

StebnerWhile our mandate says we like: good. short. writing., we’re also interested in genre-defying/blurring work that avoids easy categorisation. This constraint-based-visual poem is one of the most different pieces in our second issue and the closest we have come to printing visual art. Now that you’ve read his project description, head over to antilang. no. 2, page 15-17 to read the poem!

soundbite Preview: Zelda Baiano’s “Unchained Melody”

Zelda Baiano was, we’re proud to say, our very first fan–the first person who isn’t a personal friend or family member to really take notice and give us lots of virtual love on social media. So we’re equally proud to publish this emerging Canadian poet with “Unchained Melody” in soundbite (she also has another poem, “Intimacy,” on page 40 of antilang. no. 2).BaianoZelda Baiano is currently studying English Literature and Language at Brock University in Southern Ontario. She has been previously published in two anthologies, The Night’s Voice, and Fresh Ink 2016.

antilang. Preview: Melinda Jane – The Poet Mj’s “Kit”

Melinda Jane – The Poet Mj’s “Kit” is a structurally unique piece in antilang., a micro-novel written in verse. Jump to page 25 of the new issue and see the full arc unfold.MjMelinda Jane – The Poet Mj: writer, spoken word artist with explorations in soundscapes, improv music in the performing arts. Poems in Thirty West Publishing, The Mozzie, Rambutan, and more.

antilang. Preview: Jessica Mehta’s “Savagery”

Jessica Mehta’s poem “Savagery” opens antilang. no. 2 and sets the bold, political, and powerful tone that many of our emergent contributors carry on throughout the issue. Read her other poem, “Orygun,” and the rest of the issue by clicking the excerpt below.MehtaJessica Mehta is a multi-award-winning poet, storyteller, and author of 13 books. She’s a member of the Cherokee Nation and has been awarded numerous poet-in-residency positions around the world. Currently, she is a Halcyon Art Labs fellow and working on her PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Exeter. Her next poetry collection, Savagery, is forthcoming with Airlie Press in 2019.

soundbite Preview: Neil Surkan’s “A Walk”

You aren’t out of the woods yet; we’ve got a few more previews for you now that antilang. no. 2 and soundbite vol. 1 are out!

Neil Surkan’s “A Walk” engages with the thingness of things and the spaces they occupy, both in our world and our memories. He is one of two soundbite-exclusive contributors and his debut poetry collection, On High, was just released. Check it out and then give his piece in soundbite a listen by clicking the image below!

Surkan

3, (antilang. no.) 2, (soundbite vol.) 1, LAUNCH!

We promised you more good. short. writing., and we hope you enjoy!

Check out our latest issue of antilang. and our inaugural issue of soundbite

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)