Chihuly at the ROM

Today was the last day of the Chihuly glass sculpture exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum here in Toronto, and I braved the cold (alongside my mom) to see it. 
A few things really struck me about the pieces on display. Some of my favourites made me feel as if I were underwater, with the twisting tendrils sometimes even interspersed with delicate glass sea creatures. And that delicacy created a strange fear in place of the usual desire to reach out and connect with the art around me; with these glass sculptures, the thought of blundering into them and causing them to come crashing down creates a deep sense of hypothetical mortification. 

This instinctive need to take great care not to disturb the work around us was not the only peculiarity of the exhibit.More than perhaps any other roped-off exhibit I’ve ever seen, people were interacting with the work. No one dared touch anything, but photography was not only permitted but encouraged, and many people were contorting themselves, twisting like the sculptures they were observing, in order to get a good shot or even just gain a different perspective. Participants were chatty, energized by the bright colours and wild shapes. The exhibit felt both very personal and communal, and I’ll admit I barely read any of the plaques describing the pieces; connecting with Chihuly’s work seemed to necessitate a more active collective engagement.

For those who weren’t able to make it out to see these pieces in person, here are a few of my favourite shots that I managed to take.



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: We have only a few days left of our campaign, and any support makes a huge difference!


10 Days Left to Support Small Press Publishing

47% fundedWith 10 days left of both our Kickstarter campaign and our submission call for issue 6 of The Quilliad, we’re feeling proud of how far we’ve come, thankful for our supporters, and excited for the future. We’ve sent out the first round of early acceptances for issue 6, and we’ve been busy posting content here on our blog, from details about our participation in #raopoetryday to event coverage, an artist project spotlight, book reviews, and parrot poetry. And in addition to online engagement and sales, being on store shelves and in local zine libraries shows us that there’s interest in what we do.

IMG_7789 - CopyOur crowdfunding campaign is intended to prepare us for the next year and a half as we expand our reach from our literary and arts journal to a line of chapbooks. Funds raised will go toward publishing costs such as printing and paying contributors. And backers get some pretty great rewards in return, from poetry on demand and art prints to copies of The Quilliad and books from our upcoming print run and work by our talented staff members. Many of our rewards are highly personalised, and several are limited editions. We believe in giving back whenever we can, and that includes providing tangible incentives for our Kickstarter backers.

2d8f8fdefddf23715742b2c57e98dfb3_originalWe believe in the power of small press publishing to bring new voices and perspectives to the Canadian culture scene and beyond. We are endlessly grateful to all our supporters thus far, from our backers to those who have spread the word, attended our events, and read The Quilliad and our blog. Our campaign is currently at 47%, and with your support, we can achieve our goal and take the next steps toward establishing ourselves as a small press. Every little bit counts, including a $5 pledge or sharing a link to our project page.

Check out our campaign at Thank you for reading.


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:

Thanks for reading.


Write On Playwright’s Showcase II

IMG_7873Last night, The Quilliad Press dropped by On Cue Billiards in West End Toronto to check out the second installation of the Write On Playwright’s Showcase (Instagram @writeonreadings). The showcase is “a quarterly initiative where ten playwrights each bring approximately ten minutes of work-in-progress to read or perform in front of an audience”. Last night’s showcase focussed on female playwrights.

Despite the usual last-minute hitches and delays that plague live performance, the night got going around 8:30 with Katie Sly’s funny, bold, and touching tale of a first BDSM experience. Katie’s excerpt from In The Dark, a multi-media show exploring sexual taboos which debuted at Buddies in Bad Times’s 2015 Queer Pride festival, was one of my favourite pieces of the night.

Other highlights included Suzanna Derewicz, Thea Fitz-James, and Jess Pfundt’s work. Suzanna presented part of Getting There, a play about the final moments in the life of Maggie, whose mind remains for her final moments past her body’s death. The play is inspired by Sylvia Plath’s last book, Ariel, which just happens to be one of my favourite poetry collections, and I’m excited to see what Suzanna does with the proposed chapbook version of her frantic, wistful performance. Thea performed part of Drunk Girls, a piece that mixes stats, historical facts, and anecdotes to present a portrait of female alcohol abuse, all while Thea gets drunk on stage. Her performance was brave, confrontational, and expressive. For her part, Jess launched straight into a monologue from the perspective of an unknowing witness to a grisly crime giving her testimony to a police officer. Her complete immersion into the character made the scenario seem real.


Thea Fitz-James

While not every piece was to my personal taste, all the performers were professionals, and there was something to gain from each performance, made more impressive by the knowledge that these were works-in-progress. The performances ranged from the surreal (Jennie Egerdie’s tale of a young girl’s visions of sainthood via Disney comes to mind) to the deliberately mundane (Gina J. Britnell’s monologue on the world of telemarketing and top seller Jan). The topics of discussion varied widely as well, from Deborah Kimmett’s excerpt from No Fixed Address, a piece inspired by the Preacher Man near Wychwood, which features a homeless woman’s reflections on life, to Laurel Brady’s account of her character’s intense high school angst. Susannah Mackay even offered up a matter-of-fact account of the collapse of civilization through the eyes of a teenager, told in momentary details that brought the large-scale chaos down to an individual level. Mirian Kay’s strong voice and accompanying guitar provided a musical interlude.

The evening ended rather appropriately with a monologue by Meara Tubman-Broeren. She began by asking, “Should I become a doctor?” and used the question to explore the nature of art and her place in it. While her piece expressed many doubts, Meara’s performance was ultimately in defence of theatre—and, more broadly, art.

As are we.

Thanks to Suzanna, Gina, and Laurel for putting last night’s showcase together, and to their sponsors for making it possible for them to pay their artists: Shoxs Billiards Lounge, 3030, Theatre 20, Christine Noonan Yoga, Centauri Arts Academy, Wallace & Co., and of course On Cue Billiards. Paid work is hard to come by for most of us, and the arts needs its patrons.


logo roundP.S. Speaking of patrons of the arts, if you’d like to see more content from The Quilliad Press, please consider backing our Kickstarter (we’re a staff pick!). In addition to coverage of local arts and literary events, we post small press book reviews, project spotlights, artist profiles, and parrot poetry. 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

The Quilliad Press & Issue 6: Submission Call & Kickstarter

IMG_7789We’ve been busy lately. We’ve been writing book reviews, delivering copies of The Quilliad to local zine libraries, and stocking the shelves at Artarium with our publications. And now we’re launching our submission call and Kickstarter campaign concurrently.

Submission Call

This is an exciting time for us. We’re publishing under our new small press publishing company, The Quilliad Press, and we’re contemplating our first run of chapbooks. We’re also looking for submissions for The Quilliad: Issue 6, our second annual Halloween issue.

We’re looking for flash fiction, short stories, poetry, comics, photography, and art from Canadian writers and artists in any of the following genres or on any of the following topics:

  • literary science fiction and horror
  • magic realism
  • fairy tales, folk tales, myths, and legends
  • monsters, death, magic, fear, or anything else that evokes the spirit of the season

We’re open to things that aren’t on this list as well; query us if you aren’t sure. Email your submissions (1-5 pieces) to before midnight on October 20. We will be paying a $12 honorarium plus a contributor copy to every writer or artist we publish, and all contributors will be invited to feature their work at our launch party on October 29 at Betty’s on King in Toronto.


To make issue 6, our chapbooks, future issues, events, book reviews, and more happen, we’re calling on our readers for support. We’re dreaming big and planning the next few years. This crowdfunding campaign represents our ambitions for the future. As our project description on Kickstarter says,

This new official status as a small press publisher reflects our commitment to growth. The Quilliad Press will continue the work we have been doing, but we are increasing the number of reviews and artist profiles we post, and we want to push beyond our biannual journal publication to chapbooks and, hopefully, anthologies.

We have successfully funded The Quilliad‘s previous issues through crowdfunding, revenues from launches, and money out of our own pockets. Now that we have seen the potential of this publication and can imagine the future of our recently formed small press, we want to move beyond an issue-to-issue model to one that is more self-sustaining. Which is why we want this Kickstarter to be our last.

Any support means a lot to us, our contributors, and our readers, whether you pledge $5 or $100, and will have tangible results that affect people across Canada, North America as a whole, and beyond.

We’re offering copies of The Quilliad, The Quilliad Press’s first chapbook, and our own published work, as well as art prints, haiku and glosas on demand, and even personalised books of poetry and art with a limited print run of one as rewards for our backers. Backing The Quilliad Press is a way to directly support small press publishing, as well as the dozens of Canadian writers and artists who we publish and promote.

For more information about our Kickstarter, visit

Thank you for reading.

Sarah Varnam,
Editor-in-Chief of The Quilliad

Issue 6 and The Quilliad Press Approacheth

While soon I’ll be filling this blog with tantalizing rewards for our upcoming Kickstarter and a submission call for issue 6, this post is just a note to announce that copies of all our issues to date are on their way in the mail to the Toronto Zine Library. We’re always excited about making our publication and the awesome work between its pages more available to the people of Canada, so we are planning to build an Etsy soon as well. Exciting!

You’ll be hearing a lot more from us soon.

Until then,

As Equals

Exciting news! We will be screening “As Equals”, a film by one of our favourite cover artists, Sean G. Marjoram, and one of our contributors, Devin P.L. Edwards, at our issue 5 launch party on May 9, 2015, at Betty’s on King (240 King Street West in Toronto). Add this to your list of reasons to attend. The film is an adaptation of a poem by Devin and includes the poem as a voiceover by one of the film’s cast.

You can also find the film published on Geek Collateral Media’s filmography page. We’re dedicated to promoting writing and art by Canadian artists, and that extends to mediums beyond the page (more on that later!)