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).

Issue 2 Cover Art Contest

What does literary brevity look like? Show us!

Hey everyone, we’ve been vetting your writing for antilang. no. 2 and we’re blown away by your incredible words! Now we’re looking for an amazing piece of art that captures the essence of good short writing for the issue’s cover.

What does literary brevity look like? Show us! Maybe you’ll go for minimalism, perhaps pithy pointillism, or a more metaphorical approach. Look to our mandate for inspiration. Imply and implicate with your imagery.

Our favorite piece will be featured on the cover of antilang. no. 2 (fall 2018) and will appear in the next collected print edition (no. 2-3, expected early 2019), which the winning artist will of course receive a hard copy of. We hope to eventually pay our contributors via funds raised through Patreon and we will start by back-paying people featured in our early issues.

Click the button below for a direct link to our Submittable page. (Pro tip: it’s totally free to enter!) We can’t wait to see your work!

On Cover Letters & Bios

Hello! As you know, antilang. is now open for submissions for issue 2. And, if you’ve clicked our submittable button, you’ll see that there’s a section for leaving a cover letter. But what does a cover letter for a literary magazine entail? If you’re just starting to send out your work, the cover letter and bio can be the worst part of submitting. Thoughts of “but I’m not that interesting,” “now they’ll know I’m an amateur,” and “I just like writing” leap into your mind, and leave you staring at a blank screen until you panic and abandon the whole endeavour. Right?

But we want to see your work! So we’ve created a helpful guide to get you started on your cover letter and bio.

  1. Don’t stress over the cover letter! We care about your work first.
  2. Begin your cover letter like you would a paper letter: a block in the top left corner with your name and contact info (mailing address, email address), then date and address the letter (“To the Editors” works for a generic letter, but you can personalise it with “To Allie & Jordan”)
  3. Begin with “Please consider my [word/page-count] story, [“title”]” OR “Please consider my poems [“title”], [“title”], [“title”]” OR “Please consider my short work of mixed genre, [“title”]” (you get the point–be polite, and identify your work).
  4. Follow this up with a quick explanation (about one-sentence) of how your piece is a good fit for us (this is not mandatory, but we hear other publishers like this, and it’s good practice indicate how your work fits with what a magazine likes to publish–it demonstrates that you have read the magazine)
  5. Bio (belongs in a separate paragraph and should be fittingly concise (~30 words). Clearly label it as your bio by starting: “Bio: [your bio here]”. Most bios include: your name; what you’re studying (if still in school); if you have any previous publications, then list the magazine names; any completed degrees. As we encourage anyone who feels comfortable to disclose any intersectional/minority identities, then you can include this alongside your name. Your bio can also contain your preferred genre of writing. Alternatively, we love clever anti-bios (example: “Allie pretends to write poetry” OR “Jordan studies the intersection of the housing market and avocado imports”). Check out the end of antilang. no. 1 to see a range of bios!
  6. End with “Thank you for your consideration, [your name]”

Now that you know how to do a cover letter, you’ll send us your work, right?


(Fun fact: this anti-bio appeared in a chapbook of collected poetry by the advanced poetry class at the UofC in 2015)

You know you wanna click that button!

Do you love to click buttons? Of course you do, it’s half the reason any of us are on the internet! Well, we’ve got a fancy new button for you to click on our submission guidelines page, which will lead you to our Submittable page where you can click a plethora of new buttons.

And while you’re there, you might as well submit a piece of good short writing to be considered for issue no. 2. Oh yeah, did we forget to mention we’re now accepting general submissions for our next issue!? Click the links above or the button below, brush up on our guidelines (they’re newly revised) and send us your best in brevity.

We can’t wait to read your wonderful writing!