The Quilliad Press’s Second Annual Chapbook Call

logo roundToday begins our second annual chapbook call!

We’re looking for 10-20 pages of poetry and/or flash fiction from a Canadian writer who has never had a chapbook or full-length book published (self-published authors are exempt from this restriction, as this restriction is in place to allow emerging writers without publisher representation an opportunity to become a more active part of the Canadian literary scene). Previous Quilliad contributors are welcome to apply.

We will be paying a $50 honorarium to the selected writer as well as providing the author with 5 copies of their book free of charge (subsequent copies can be purchased by the writer at half price). We will also consider poems from the submitted manuscripts of 2 runners-up for issue 9 of The Quilliad. Publication in The Quilliad will be compensated with an honorarium and contributor copy.

To submit, send your writing to thequilliad@gmail.com by January 15, 2017.

The Quilliad Reviews: Louder Than Everything You Love by Nicole Rollender

This must be what love is:
a shining blade so exquisitely cut that after my throat is slit,
I still sing.

“On a Board Hewn for a Body”

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Nicole Rollender
‘s first full-length collection, Louder Than Everything You Love, published by ELJ Editions, is a beautiful and brutal book that explores love, sex, birth, death, and womanhood. A kind of tender violence pervades the text; filled with harsh truths, these intense and eloquent poems nevertheless serve to remind us not only of our mortality but of the precious nature of what little life we have:

You, the living
mother, shake salt from the table cloth, teach your
child to nest where it’s warm, tell your dead to head
toward whatever window is full of light.

“How to Talk to Your Dead Mother”

Women’s lives are often the focus in Louder Than Everything You Love. They experience the wonder of life growing within them, as the speaker details in “Psalm to Be Read While My Daughter Sleeps”: “how beautiful that she touched the inside of my uterus: / floated there, her jawbone, torso, skin, hand, hand forming”. They also know the many ways in which they will be used and expected to hold themselves back because of their sex: “women are told to diminish” (Fasting”). And yet, these women find release and voice and power: in good food, in poetry, in the connections between generations. And though they pass on, something continues; Rollender traces a matrilineal line through the speaker’s/speakers’ veins:

She’s learning what dead women / do: swim the blood of their daughters

[ . . . ]

She tiptoes up my spine in her / old slippers, knocking on every vertebra she sees.

“The Light Makes My Grandmother Cry”

Rollender’s collection explores death at length; the speaker and the reader feel it just under the surface of life. In “Prayer, as Ghost,” the speaker states, “Everything is the ghost of something else.” The past echoes; the present whispers of what came before and what will be (and what will cease to be). The speaker doesn’t only speak of the deaths of others; she is surrounded by her own memento mori: “my own ghost singing in my throat, turning its hourglass of snow.” (“Even the Living Can Haunt”) She acknowledges and confronts this reality throughout the text: “in cemeteries I ask how to die well: to part kindly with the women I’ll never become” (“Equinox”)

Despite speaking of hauntings, the speaker’s sense of death is made of flesh. This is no effervescent, ethereal retreat from the world. This is the haunting of veins, ghosts in the genes, a matrilineal legacy of peasant soup, not wispy spirit. The presence of the dead is embodied in those who share their blood. Despite speaking about a concept as abstract as death, the speaker provides concrete images: bones, birds, meals made by past women. Death’s physicality serves to remind us that it isn’t a bogeyman; it is a real loss we will all experience, again and again. Yet, far from being a hopeless tale, Louder Than Everything You Love gives us a speaker who feels life all the more keenly for thinking of its end. Many of her musings center not only around past generations but also her daughter, her line’s future.

The collection’s poems sometimes repeat themselves with similar ideas or images, but no poem truly stands out as redundant. The reader gets the sense that the speaker is rehashing ideas and dwelling on images to delve deeper and explore further rather than just repeat herself. And after all, don’t we all come back to thoughts of loss and meaning and connection, over and over, trying to eke out enough to sustain us?

Louder Than Everything You Love is unrelenting, both in its confrontation of our inevitable pain and death and its urging toward life. There is deep compassion within the raw lines of Rollender’s poems. Every poem seems to contain some line that resonates, with beauty and horror and honesty. This book tells us about our grief, not just the grief of the speaker, and it tells us about our love, too, which haunts and comforts us despite its inability to keep us safe.

 

 

 

 

 

The Quilliad Reviews: Oregon Pacific by Nancy Slavin

imageSlavin’s collection is a tribute to the coastits histories, day-to-day dramas, and the power of the ocean. Nature is powerful here because of its adaptability, despite our interventions (and even invasions). Waves overwhelm the hapless road in “After the Storm”, while in “Landowner”, mold and mildew bloom in the speaker’s office. Our domination of nature is questioned, both its wisdom and its truth, and the relationship between the natural world and civilization is investigated throughout the collection. This relationship shifts many times, but it remains the focus.

Ultimately, nature mostly knows best in Oregon Pacific. In “Cape Meares Lake”, human industry is valuable in relation to its harmony with nature“I know you are man made / but some good has come of that”, while “Blues for the Birds” compares the complexities (and, it seems, foolishness) of human society with the straightforward instincts of birds. In “Cape Lookout”, as in many other pieces throughout the collection, nature is the setting for a spiritual quest. The speaker is in an in-between space, “[her] soul / again at that time of dusk where shadow meets shape”, her internal spiritual world mingling with the physical world, just as the civil connects with the natural. The speaker “walks the whole trail” in more ways than one, her “trial by fire” an emotional and spiritual journey as well as a walk amongst the trees, until “an ember of sun burns the tops of the evergreens [ . . . ] for that one brief joyous moment.” As occurs elsewhere in Oregon Pacific, this joy belongs to her and the natural world around her. Nature’s many incarnations are characters in themselves, often imbued with some level of pathetic fallacy, engaging in varying ways with the speaker’s emotions. Nature is a constant referent for the speaker, even when she is at odds with the natural rhythms of the world: “I am at the end of a cycle, / though it is summer, a world within me / dies.”

The collection is unified by its subject matter, with both formal and freeverse poems sitting side-by-side. Slavin moves mostly effortlessly between forms, though some rhymes are slightly singsong. This intense focus on the coast and the humannature relationship can sometimes make the poems within the collection blur together. Yet this strict attention, when combined with Slavin’s eye for details and the precision of her language, also renders the flora, fauna, and landscape within her poems whole and real with fresh images and loving specificity. One of my favourite pieces in the collection, “Communiqué“, offers this depiction of crows taking flight: “The flap of wings taps in one dark / hearbeat against the pale white sky until / the birds splinter apart, like buckshot spent / in all directions.” “Urchins” provides a similar level of insight into the space between land and sea: “Urchins, anemone, starfish, and mussels / at low ebb wait, exposed. Scarlet tendrils, / mouths chartreuse, clustered in colonies / bound together.” Overall, the reader is left with a strong sense of place and the intensity of the impression that the North Oregon coast has left on the poet.

Sarah

Chapbook call

Following the success of our Kickstarter and our sixth issue of The Quilliad, it’s time for our first-ever chapbook submission call!

We’re looking for 10-20 pages of poetry and/or flash fiction from a Canadian writer who has never had a chapbook or full-length book published (self-published authors are exempt from this restriction, as this restriction is in place to allow emerging writers without publisher representation an opportunity to become a more active part of the Canadian literary scene). Previous Quilliad contributors are welcome to apply.

We will be paying a $50 honorarium to the selected writer as well as providing the author with 5 copies of their book. We will also consider poems from the submitted manuscripts of 2 runners-up for issue 7 of The Quilliad. Publication in The Quilliad will be compensated with an honorarium and contributor copy.

To submit, send your writing to thequilliad@gmail.com by December 13, 2015.

Kickstarter Reward Highlight: Chapbooks

2d8f8fdefddf23715742b2c57e98dfb3_originalWhile some of our Kickstarter‘s chapbook rewards have sold out, several remain available. In addition to the first chapbook in The Quilliad Press’s forthcoming chapbook line (to be released in January of 2016), we have several chapbooks by Quilliad staff members up for grabs.

One copy of Consanguinity by Steph Chaves, our submissions editor and social media assistant, is still available as a Kickstarter reward. Published and handbound in Japanese stab stitch by Grow and Grow in 2013 (with a limited first-edition print run of 80) and signed by the author, Consanguinity contains poems consisting of found and altered text from epics traditionally considered part of the English literary canon. Described as an “archeological dig”, these poems trace Chave’s “poetic geneology”. Consanguinity is an elegant, contemporary engagement with literary history.

Two copies of Devin P.L. Edwards’s Love and Longing, published by Geek Collateral, are available through our Kickstarter. This collection is filled with love poems that investigate love at different stages of its development, from the first hint of beguilement to its death throes, through sonnets and freeverse alike.

You can find one signed copy of my limited edition chapbook Cracked Skin as part of our Kickstarter. Only ten copies were ever printed and bound. The poems within Cracked Skin discuss diverse subject matter, from sugar cubes and shipwrecks to memory and Eastern European family history through freeverse and formal poetry. Each handbound copy is unique, featuring subtly different cover art.

All chapbooks rewards are bundled with at least one other reward, so for $25 plus shipping, you can get any of the books described above plus a print copy of The Quilliad‘s sixth issue. And for especially generous backers who pledge 200 or more, in addition to several other lit and art awards, you will receive a chapbook written for you, by us. We will design, select or write poems, and create or select art to create a chapbook that will have a print run of one. You provide us with a general theme (e.g. “love”, “death”, “words”, “animals”), and we provide the rest.

Our chapbooks are only a small sample of the rewards available to our backers. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of our backers thus far and to encourage you to support small press publishing. Follow the link to see our Kickstarter project page: www.kickstarter.com/projects/1765917797/the-quilliad-press-and-issue-6. We have only a few days left of our campaign, and any support makes a huge difference!

Sarah

Yesterday’s Random Acts of Poetry, Tomorrow’s Poetic Possibilities

Hello, readers. Today I’d like to share some cool poetry-related stuff, as well as some info about where we’re at (all good stuff!).

Yesterday was #raopoetryday, and The Quilliad Press participated with enthusiasm. We scattered poems written by our staff for previous Kickstarter backers across the city, placing sticky notes in odd spots (like next to an outlet in a coffee shop, on a payphone, and on the window of the TTC bus I rode home from work in). Here are a few shots of our handiwork:

And we’re very pleased to say that tweetspeak poetry, the organizer of the event, has included us in their post about #raopoetryday highlights.

If you’d like your own poem, consider contributing to our last-ever Kickstarter. We’re offering everything from haiku and glosas to entire chapbooks created for our backers, as well as copies of The Quilliad (our lit and arts journal), our press’s future chapbooks, art prints, and books by our talented staff members (most of which are signed and all of which are illustrated!).

In addition to publishing writing and art by Canadian creators (who we pay, by the way!), we also post artist profiles and project spotlights, compose small press book reviews, share parrot poetry (by Riff Raff, our poetry parrot-in-residence), and write about local art and literary events here on our blog. By supporting us, you’ll be connecting with a large creative community (and receiving some great rewards).

Our campaign is currently hovering around 47%, with 12 days to go. Here’s the link to our project page: www.kickstarter.com/projects/1765917797/the-quilliad-press-and-issue-6

Thanks for reading.

—Sarah

More from the Poetry Parrot

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Riff Raff, our poetry parrot-in-residence, likes to keep busy. Typing up poems on my touchscreen phone is one way our bird keeps from getting bored. Here is the latest piece, which I have titled “Spaces”:

Screenshot_2015-09-24-18-45-09

I make no changes to Riff Raff’s poetry; our parrot makes all marks him/herself (with conures, you can’t tell gender based on appearance!), and my phone does the rest.

—Sarah

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P.S. If you’d like to see more content from The Quilliad Press, please consider backing our Kickstarter! In addition to parrot poetry, we post small press book reviews, artist profiles, and coverage of local arts and literary events. We also publish a literary and arts journal, The Quilliad, and are planning a line of chapbooks.

The Quilliad Press is 33.5% funded!

quilliad 33.5 fundedThanks to our generous backers, over the weekend our Kickstarter reached 33.5%. With 22 days to go, this progress is very exciting.

We still have lots of great writing and art rewards available, from copies of our journal, The Quilliad, to chapbooks, poetry on demand, and art prints.

Thank you to everyone who has backed us thus far. For those who are just learning about us, we publish a literary and arts journal, The Quilliad, filled with work by emerging and established Canadian writers and artists, and are planning a line of chapbooks. We also post small press book reviews, artist profiles, and coverage of local arts and literary events here on our blog. You can find the Kickstarter for our new small press at www.kickstarter.com/projects/1765917797/the-quilliad-press-and-issue-6.

The Poetry Parrot Returns!

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As our previous shares of poetry-parrot-in-residence Riff Raff’s pieces show, tiny bird claws plus a touchscreen phone can have some interesting results!

I’ve taken the liberty of titling this one for Riff Raff. I call it “Identity Poem”:

Riff Raff's identity poem

Autocorrect is certainly an aid to Riff Raff’s self expression; I make no changes whatsoever to our parrot’s poetic scribblings.

—Sarah

P.S. If you’d like to see more content from The Quilliad Press, please consider backing our Kickstarter! In addition to parrot poetry, we post small press book reviews, artist profiles, and coverage of local arts and literary events. We also publish a literary and arts journal, The Quilliad, and are planning a line of chapbooks.

The Quilliad Reviews Lisa C. Taylor’s Growing a New Tail

Growing a New Tail by Lisa C. Taylor

Growing a New Tail by Lisa C. Taylor

Much like their characters, the stories in Lisa C. Taylor’s Growing a New Tail are full of potential. Some are fully realised, while others feel as if they are not quite finished.

One of my favourite stories in the collection, in which the potential is realised, is the final piece, “Leash Laws”. Here, many of Taylor’s best qualities as a writer are on display. She fully inhabits the narrator’s world in a psychiatric hospital—and, more impressively, her mind—without condescension or a sense of voyeurism. For the duration of “Leash Laws”, she believes in the world as it exists for the protagonist, and the story—and the reader—are better for it. My favourite line in the piece occurs on the first page of the story and sets the tone: “No one knows when his or her tree-time will come.” The language is strong here, existing in sympathy with the protagonist. “Earthy Top Note”, a story that takes on the perspective of a dead man from a very unusual angle, similarly shows what Taylor can do when she follows through with an idea.

Many of the other stories feature the same attention to detail and interest in their characters, but they suffer from rushed or abrupt endings. The climaxes of such stories take the reader by surprise, and while this structure furthers the plot in some cases, when used so frequently, it loses its freshness. The reasoning for this structure is clear—these are characters about to change their lives or experiencing a moment of epiphany. Yet in stories like “Visible Wounds”, for example, the story cuts off shortly after it piques my interest. Much of the story up to that point feels like setup, but the reader never sees the main action. The brevity of the story requires the narrative to fit too much information into too little space, leading to more telling than showing—which, though eloquent, makes some passages feel too on-the-nose.

Overall, the collection benefits significantly from Taylor’s poetic writing background and observational skills, with the source of most issues being either plot structure or an otherwise not fully fleshed out concept. I am left with an impression of a series of story ideas, some of which are expanded upon fully and meet their mark, while others could use more development.