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

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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/

The Quilliad Reviews: Awful Baby by Mary Lou Buschi

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You can find Awful Baby at http://www.redpainthill.com/#!mary-lou-buschi/skyvj. Image credit Red Paint Hill Press

Awful Baby is a dark book, but it would be flippant to simply call it sad. There is too much wit and craft here for that. This book is rich with strong images that shift between dreamy impressions and crisp, haunting memories. While these images are often quite specific, they draw the reader in. At times, reading this collection feels voyeuristic, as the speaker lets us in to her world, allowing us to see both her family’s love and their grief; at others, she holds back, allowing emotion to seep through the cracks in a seemingly calm and practical exterior.

Mary Lou Buschi has constructed a portrait of family life and childhood and used the powerful impressions made by both to explore the ways our upbringing and our identity intersect, as well as to explore the effects of loss. The normal becomes grotesque, both through the memories of pain experienced by the speaker’s family“To put up a tree means the family is well, happy”and through the surreal instructional poems such as “Today’s Objective,” “Purple Math,” and “Rounding.” Another such poem, “Beauty School,” shifts between practical advice (“Start at the temple, knead the skin with your index and middle fingers in a cross skating motion”) and eerie suggestions (“You will need to recant each bone before cutting her cuticles”). Whether she is examining our social rituals or showing us how our interpersonal memories form our sense of family (Tell me again about the time you shook me awake to make sure I was still breathing”, from “I hate and I love”), Buschi manages to both evoke emotion and offer psychological insight.

In “Mirror Box,” Buschi asks, “If a family is a body/how does the brain/deal with a missing limb?” This collection is a love letter and a study of how the parts of a family grow apart and together, and how our memories persist as we do, living with us whether we like it or not.

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”:

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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.

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.

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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.

—Sarah

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 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.