Issue 8 Submission Call: Halloween 2016

logo roundWe’re seeking writing and art for our October issue! Literary science fiction, apocalyptic stories and poetry, retold/re-imagined fairy tales/folklore/myths, horror, and other spooky, speculative, or macabre work. If you are a Canadian writer or artist, submit your work to thequilliad@gmail.com from September 1-30.

Please read the details regarding submission format and length at thequilliad.wordpress.com/submissions before sending us your work; feel free to email us with any questions.

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”

nicole rollender cover
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: Ginger Ko’s Motherlover

motherlover

Feathers stuck beneath your eyelids     don’t you dare rub them
Or you’ll spark your dry mind     on fire

“Starve the Beast”

Reading Motherlover, it’s clear that the speaker’s mind is alight. The voice is bold and in your face; the voice of a woman taking up space. Unexpected twists of language give energy to the poems: “Guts lined with wet fur that had never seen light” (from “Gaslight”); “The ground is softening: raising up the smell of offspring and ghosts.” (“Easter Egg”) The text is daring, purposefully so: “What would you do to my resting bitch face” (from “Gaslight”).

The first section, “Gaslight,” is straightforward, harsh, sometimes accusatory, combating the foggy, anxious experience of being the victim of gaslighting. The book as a whole embodies a struggle between love and selfhood, often reflecting on the challenges of being a woman with strong feelings and opinions while simultaneously having to live in relation to others:

No one ever listens when they ask
Except later when they crash into my words
And think they’re listening to themselves
I’m a daughter and used to remaining unmentioned

“Stay Away from my Windows No One is Welcome”

Much of the final section of the book, “Prairie Lighthouse,” remains difficult for me to parse. The lines sometimes feel haphazard, and many images feel either too personally specific or too abstract for me to connect to. But these poems are not without power, similar to, though structurally more wayward than, what came before.

There is still something radical and brave about unflattering honesty, and in a sense also a frank beauty to the vulnerability of statements like the opening lines of one of Ko’s “Night Signatures”: “My self-sufficiency has disappeared. I pick up five-dollar pulp books / when I buy cigarettes and I read them at home / in front of television talk shows.” There is so much evoked in these lines, a combination of loneliness and not giving a fuck that’s poignant and refreshing. The emotionality of the text is unapologetic; the cleverness of the lines is tempered by emotional depth.

I will not pretend to understand all of Motherlover. But what stays with me and touches me is liberating, a vulnerable voice speaking honestly of heartbreak and rebellion.

Chapbook? Launched. Issue 7 submission call? Open.

The Quilliad Press is busy this spring! Last night, we launched our first chapbook and hosted our first retrospective. Four of our past contributors, all of whom have been published more than once by The Quilliad, read at the event: John Nyman, Suzanna Derewicz, Larissa Kucharyshyn, and Devin P.L. Edwards. John shared work from previous issues of The Quilliad and some new work from his forthcoming book Players, which launches on April 5 at Another Story Bookshop in Toronto. Suzanna shared both new and old work and plugged her own reading series, Write On Playwright Showcase, the next installment of which is on April 19 at the Junction City Music Hall in Toronto. Larissa, who was one of our chapbook finalists, included in her set a beautiful poem that will be published in our next issue as a preview of what’s to come. Devin read from his chapbook, Love and Longing, as well as some newer pieces.

And we’re not done for the season! Our issue 7 submission call opens today and will continue until the end of April. For more information on our guidelines, visit https://thequilliad.wordpress.com/submissions/.

Last night’s readings gave us a strong sense of the community we’ve built and the wider literary community we’ve connected to. We look forward to inviting new voices into the conversation with issue 7.

Your editor-in-chief,
Sarah

The Quilliad Reviews: Mosaics: A Collection of Independent Women, Volume 1

MosaicsA literary exploration of femininity and womanhood, Mosaics approaches its subject matter through stories, poetry, essays, and art. The tales within its pages span across eras and genres. These varied approaches reflect the variety of perspectives contained within the anthology’s pages. This diversity is an intentional political act; the creators of Mosaics set out to produce a book that depicts the experience of women through an intersectional lens, and they’ve succeeded. From a girl with a glass heart to the erotic encounters of lesbian suffragettes, this anthology embraces a diversity of forms that women may take on.  Mosaics tells the tales of robots and the wheelchair-bound, folkloric monsters and Lillith.

If there is one flaw that I might take issue with, it would be that, at times, some of the stories are a little heavy-handed. Most of the time, Mosaics is an engaging and accessible read, but occasionally the stories take on a more didactic tone than is my preference, which takes away from the immersive quality of the narrative. The more nuanced tales still embody their politics, and I am thus left wishing all the stories could find that perfect balance.

That said, Mosaics is a well-written anthology compiled by women who aren’t afraid to imbue their work with political purpose, and there’s power in that. All proceeds go to charity (The Pixel Project to end Violence Against Women), so they are truly walking the walk. Between the valuable social message and the strong writing, Mosaics is a meaningful contribution to both literary and social discourse. You can find it on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.ca/Mosaics-Collection-Independent-Women-Anthology-ebook/dp/B01BW43VLW?tag=smarturl-ca-20

—Sarah

Chapbook Launch and Quilliad Retrospective

Too impatient to wait for issue 7? You’re in luck. We’re releasing our first chapbook at the end of the month! Come out to Betty’s on King in Toronto (240 King Street East) on Thursday, March 31, 2016 between 7 and 11 p.m. for our chapbook launch and journal retrospective. Hear readings from Geoffrey Nilson’s We Have to Watch, as well as performances by past contributors to The Quilliad, all of whom we liked enough to publish twice (or more!). We’ve also invited writers and artists from past issues to bring their work for the merch table, so there will be lots to look at. You can find the Facebook event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/522313971227071/

Coming Soon: We Have to Watch by Geoff Nilson

We’re excited to announce that work is under way on our first ever chapbook for The Quilliad Press. We will soon be publishing We Have to Watch by Geoff Nilson. We’re currently in the midst of layout decisions, editing, and cover design. Congratulations to Geoff, as well as to our talented runners-up, Larissa Kucharyshyn and Melinda Roy. We’ll be publishing poems by Larissa and Melinda in issue 7 of The Quilliad.

While you are waiting, check out Geoff’s website or order a copy of one of our back issues!

Sarah

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

More Early Acceptances!

logo roundOur second round of early acceptances revolves around folklore and fairy tales. Long-time supporter and contributor John Nyman graces us with poetry about vampirism and death that manages to be both chilling and free of cliché. Both Erica McKeen (a writer of poetry and fiction based in London, Ontario whose work has been published in This Dark Matter, Nom de Plume, and issues four and five of Occasus) and Ruth Daniell (a BC writer who won the 2014 Young Buck Poetry Prize with Contemporary Verse 2) have provided us with pieces that offer new and spooky perspectives on old tales, through both fiction and poetry.

We’re also excited to be including the artwork of Jill Davis LeBlanc, a New Brunswick artist who is the creator and illustrator of the anthology zine Hollow Round of Skull and the illustrator for The Legend of Hummel Park and Other Stories, currently an Amazon bestseller in the horror short stories category.

If you’re curious about our first round of early acceptances, you can check out our post about them here. If these stories, poems, and artwork sound interesting to you, you can purchase copies of our sixth issue through our Kickstarter, which will be running for only three more days! We’re also offering personal poetry on demand, chapbooks, and art prints to our backers. You can view our Kickstarter project page by following this link: www.kickstarter.com/projects/1765917797/the-quilliad-press-and-issue-6. By ordering through our Kickstarter, you’ll be supporting our efforts as a small press to publish and promote both new and established Canadian writers and artists. The Quilliad is a paying publication, and The Quilliad Press as a whole is dedicated to creating a strong literary and artistic community. Support us through Kickstarter and become part of that community!

Thanks for reading.

Sarah Varnam,
Editor-in-Chief and Founder of The Quilliad Press

 

Fifth Issue Launch, the Artists Newsstand, and Next Steps!

It’s been a busy time for us at The Quilliad recently, and we are super excited about everything that’s happened and all the possibilities.

Recent Events

In March, we participated in the Artists Newsstand’s Kickstarter by providing copies of The Quilliad as rewards. They’re having their grand opening today, so head on down to Chester Station! Here’s the Facebook event for more details: https://www.facebook.com/events/370381653155869/

Here are also a couple of photos from the setup (I snagged these while dropping off the journal copies–I can only imagine how great it looks now!):

Of course, we had an exciting event of our own to host just this past weekend: our fifth issue launch party! I was stunned by how well it went. The party room at Betty’s on King was filled with people listening to the readings, admiring Eden Bachelder‘s art and chapbooks, and getting caricatures done by Amanda Boulos. We even had a short film screening of a piece filmed by Sean G. Marjoram and written by Devin P.L. Edwards, both past contributors to The Quilliad and continuing collaborators. Lisa Young wrote a delightful tribute poem for The Quilliad that made me blush, and Suzanna Derewicz’s theatrical performance of her poetry took us by surprise in a wonderful way.

What’s Up Next

We’re applying for project grants and planning a fundraiser for this summer plus a Youtube channel! Keep an eye out–you’ll be seeing a lot more from us in the near future.

Thank you to all our contributors, Kickstarter backers, and readers.

Love,
Sarah Varnam,
Editor-in-Chief of The Quilliad