October Flash Contest Winner: Erin Vance!

A Half-Life

It was the landlord’s policy to do an inspection of his property every six months. He had been trying to contact his tenants for several weeks, but his phone calls, emails, and letters went unanswered. The occupants of the other apartments in the building were no help, either. They kept to themselves. One woman, in the apartment above his, a violinist, told him that she hadn’t seen the couple recently, but that she did hear a keening most nights, coming from the apartment. The landlord waited until the snow and ice melted to go to the apartment in person. His son had died after being impaled by an icicle that fell off the building’s roof- the reason he rented the apartment out, now. The landlord did not go outside in the winter months, if he could help it. It was lonely, yes, but he did not want to risk what the newspapers had dubbed “the Canadian Lobotomy.” He knocked on the apartment door. It was a ground level and had its own entrance. He shivered, standing right where his son had died. The landlord looked up at the eaves. He knocked again. No answer. The landlord began to knock harder, louder. A black shape slammed into the large window adjacent to the door. Its wings flapped against the window. The landlord could hear a low shrieking through the thin glass. He pulled out his keys. It was right on page three of the lease that no animals were allowed in the apartment. Full stop. As he turned the key and opened the door, the creature flew right into him, knocking him back with its weight. The landlord swore, lying on the ground now, watching the bird slowly ascend before landing in the elm outside the apartment building. Its wing knocked loose a lingering icicle, thin and ragged in the March sun. The bird continued to shriek, “Help! Help! Help! Help!” The crow’s feathers were mottled, unkempt. They did not resemble the oil-slick feathers of the birds he was used to seeing. The landlord stood up. Even from outside the apartment smelled of bird shit and metal. And a bit like a bottle depot. An awful hissing came from the kitchen. One of the radiators was covered in the animals’ excrement, which had eaten through the metal plating. Steam hissed, rising from the holes. Water spurted onto the floor. The landlord rushed over, closing the valve. “Hello?” He yelled into the apartment, “Is anyone here?” There was silence. And then a wailing came from the bedroom. It sounded like a woman sobbing. He walked across the apartment. All of the blinds were drawn. The landlord fumbled for the kitchen light switch. On the wall, where there had once been a pantry, hung eleven rabbits, skinned and rotting, their flesh sloughing off onto the hardwood. The landlord gagged and stumbled towards the bedroom. The door was ajar, but only just. Inside the landlord expected to find Mrs. Crawford, one of his tenants, emitting the high-pitched wailing. Instead there was only a crow, tucked neatly into the bed as if ready to go to sleep. The lamp on the bedside table was on. The crow wailed, burying its head into the pillows. The landlord stood in the doorway, unsure what to do next. He heard a something behind him, something rummaging around the den. He turned from the keening bird in the bed and closed the bedroom door. A crow stood on the couch in the small den. It thrust its beak at the television remote. The flat screen sprung to life. The landlord walked slowly into the den. The crow looked at him. The landlord felt like a child being silently berated by his schoolteacher. And that was the first time the crow spoke. “You don’t know your ass from your elbow, Mr. Linden. This place is a shit hole. I’m sure you see why we haven’t answered your calls. This shithole’s cursed or something.” After that, there was no keeping it quiet. The landlord was taken aback by the words, more so by the fact they were coming from a bird who was watching The Trailer Park Boys. Not knowing what else to do, he moved closer to the crow, “go grab a beer and I’ll explain.” In the fridge, the landlord found cases of cheap beer. He brought two cans into the den. “You fool, put it into a dish.” The landlord and the crow drank their beers, the other crow still crying in the bedroom. “She hasn’t adjusted as well as I have. She misses her mother.”

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.

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)

soundbite Preview: Dorota Renée’s “Conium Dreams”

Some of the pieces from the first volume of soundbite feature light musical accompaniment, and the subtle keyboard in Dorota Renée’s “Conium Dreams” really emphasizes the poem’s trance-like style.

Dorota Renée is a Master’s student at Concordia, a writer of poetry and fiction, and a lover of nostalgia, vintage film, and the occult.

soundbite Preview: Chris Kelly’s “Excerpt from A Kid Called Chatter”

While an audio collection of short readings does lend itself quite well to poetry, we also have some fiction appearing in our first volume of soundbite.

Clocking in at a whopping three minutes and eighteen seconds, Chris Kelly’s excerpt from his novel A Kid Called Chatter is the longest piece forthcoming in soundbite. And in just three days (!) you’ll also be able to read his poetry in antilang. no. 2.

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)!

Jill Preview.PNG

soundbite Preview: Allison Iriye’s “Can You See Me?”

Allison Iriye’s bio says that she is a recent University of Calgary graduate who writes about the people in (and out) of her life. But what this fails to mention is her time spent on the Nōditorial (Nōd Magazine’s editing team), where she met and worked alongside our editor Allie. Allison now spends her time chasing various creative projects, baking for loved ones, and winding up in trouble.

Jordan and Allie first heard Allison read this poem at Nōd Magazine’s spring launch and, as it was not among her work published in that magazine, solicited it for soundbite as Allison’s recitation of the poem adds to its strength.

 

antilang. Preview: Lip Manegio’s “survival of the tomboy”

The first of our long weekend double-feature previews!

Lip Manegio’s “survival of the tomboy,” after Canadian performer Ivan Coyote’s 2016 Tomboy Survival Guide, is a spoken word piece that walks the hinterlands of flash fic and prose poetry. Lip Manegio is a queer, trans nonbinary poet from Boston working towards a BFA in creative writing at Emerson College. Their work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Flypaper Magazine, Crab Fat Magazine, Freezeray Poetry, the minnesota review, and elsewhere.

And we’re very excited that elsewhere includes two other pieces appearing in antilang. no. 2!