The Quilliad Reviews: The Dollhouse Mirror by Frank Watson

In addition to posts about our own publication, The Quilliad will now be writing reviews of small press books. The Dollhouse Mirror Frank Watson

Our first review is of a poetry book, The Dollhouse Mirror, by Frank Watson. As the name of this collection suggests, it is both whimsical and dark. The poems’ subjects are abstract, referred to as “she”, “you”, “me”, or at most, “the little girl”–never by name. These archetypal figures draw on the inspirations for many of the poems: Tarot cards. And like most Tarot readings, interpretation of these poems leaves room for the reader to insert themselves. The absence of names or many defining characteristics for the subjects allows for an easy immersion into the emotions of each piece.

Again like Tarot, the poems concern themselves largely with love and death. They read like snippets of dark or wistful dreams (sometimes both), and many are tinged with eroticism. The occasional rhyming poem does so in a cheeky (dress/caress, page 16) and ominous way, as if to suggest that the next line is fated. Rhythm is also used to create a sense of foreboding.

The rich imagery, haiku-like stanzas, and plain language make for poetry with an air of mystery and romance that is ultimately highly accessible. Each page contains no more than seven lines of poetry, and the whole collection can be read in one sitting. The collection’s weakness is tied to its strength–at times, the poems can be simplistic and a little clich√©, but many are brief but insightful explorations of feeling. The metaphors are clear but sometimes surprising.

Though the poems are short, there is enough substance in many of them to arrant a second glance, and it is obvious that Watson chose his words with care; there is clearly meaning to each line, even if some are a little on the nose. This poetry collection is an enjoyable read and would probably appeal to reluctant poetry readers as well as those who regularly sit down to read a poem with a cup of tea.

If you would like your book reviewed by The Quilliad, please email us at to discuss suitability and delivery of a sample copy.



The Quilliad at Canzine

The Quilliad was at Canzine last Saturday. In addition to introducing new readers to the journal, we had a chance to see what other people in the small press scene are up to. There were beautiful art prints, clever interactive zines, homemade jewelry and cards, and piles of books. Here are a few photos from the day:

Between discussions about The Quilliad with festival attendees, I made a lot of doodles:

Devin picked up a few books, we made a few trades, and some generous zinesters were giving away small pieces for free:

We received complimentary writing from Kevin C. Pearce, Rob Mclennan, Andrew Boyd & Dave Oswald Mitchell (Beautiful Trouble), and our table-neighbour Julianne Ess (FOOT-TO-FACE), snagged free art from @finklebottom, and grabbed business cards from Nicole Aline Legault, Dean Garlick, Amy Kwan, Manifest Breath, and Noreen Rana.

I only bought one thing: this cat pin from Noreen Rana. I think it’s purrfectly adorable:

IMG_4198The same artist had some awesome free pins like this one as well:


If you missed Canzine, you can now order copies of The Quilliad. Details here:


The Quilliad is Out

We’ll be posting about our adventures at Canzine soon, but for now, we’d like to announce that we are now accepting orders for both digital and hardcopy editions of The Quilliad, issues 1-4. If you enjoy short stories, flash fiction, poetry, and visual art, we think you’ll enjoy our magazine. Digital copies are only $3, while print copies are $6.50 each to account for printing and shipping costs. Issues 1 and 2 are primarily writing, while issues 2 and 4 also contain a fair bit of art. Issue 4 is also our Halloween issue, so expect a lot of science fiction and horror (we were really impressed by the literary quality of a lot of the submissions we received–just goes to show how wrong it is to belittle speculative works as “genre fiction”!).

We’ll have a variety of digital formats up for sale online soon, but for now you can email your order to Specify which copies you want (digital and/or print), and once we have confirmed your order, send your payment via Paypal or money transfer to that same address ( If you are ordering issue 3, please specify which cover you would prefer (if you are ordering digital copies, we’ll throw in the alternate cover version for no extra charge). At present we only have .pdf digital copies, but that should change soon.

We hope to share the amazing writing and art we’ve curated with you.

-Sarah Varnam,
editor-in-chief of The Quilliad