Against Death Anthology

I’m happy to announce I will be editing an anthology for Anvil Press with a publication date of winter 2018/spring 2019. As a natural outgrowth of my experience writing Tunica Intima, a long poem memoir about vertebral artery dissection and stroke, and Trauma Head, a chapbook repurposing the medical file, Against Death takes up the issue of mortality.

PLEASE NOTE the submission deadline has been extended to March 15, 2018.

Against Death is an anthology of creative non-fiction exploring the psychological shifts that occur when we are prematurely or unexpectedly near death. 

To be “against” something can mean two different things at the same time. “Against” can mean pressed up close to something, yet it can also signify refusal. These texts will deal with affects of this proximity, taking into account any meaning of the word. Rather than showcase only extreme survival stories or difficult biological situations, these pieces will consider the ways we make sense of death on a personal level and how we integrate that thinking as we continue forward.

Large moments are not necessarily more powerful than small ones. Submissions may record a heightened state of calm or anxiety, crafting a new sense of self, grasping for meaning, the development of a new artistic language to communicate these changes, changed perspective, euphoria or despair, or other responses. Please note both essay form and direct experience are preferred but not mandated. Send your best-edited and well-considered work, please.

  • Deadline December 15, 2017
  • Primarily Canadian authors. International submissions welcomed but limited!
  • Submissions may be previously published. Please include permission from press with publication details.
  • 4000 word maximum, format as 12 pt Times New Roman, 1.5 space
  • Send a Word file with author’s name and title in the document name (ex.: “Jane Smith.Resistance.doc”)
  • Include a bio of approximately 100 words
  • Send files to againstdeathanthology@gmail.com

Why Against Death? I spent a year healing from a freak injury that took place just as I crept up to turning 41 years old. In that year, and every day after, I considered mortality and purpose in daily contexts, in big and small moments. I developed a new relationship to fear, for one thing.  (More on that in my essay for the book!) As I was changed by the injury, so was my thinking. In fact, all my relationships changed. I felt marked, or at least unknowingly inducted into a secret society of people who have been close to death this way.

I was curious about how fundamental but silent/invisible/internal my recalibrations were. Was I the only one who dealt with it this way? Could I have reacted differently? What happens when someone experiences walking the cliff edge really early in life? So many questions! Hence, this anthology, an extended conversation across a range of experiences.

During the post-event time I was lucky to attend “thirstDays: love, intimacy and (com)passion, in a geopolitical context,” a monthly series of video, film, performance and ceremony events by project curator/artist-in-residence Jayce Salloum. The fifth edition of the series was “Against Rapture; Or, Rupturing POC Relations,” curated by David Khang and Phanuel Antwi. David and Phaneul introduced me to Laura Kipnis’ Against Love quoted in their program, an evening described here in part:

Through live dance, film and video we consider the acts and states of rupture and rapture. Questioning the obstacles in the ways which people of colour (POC) come to love, understand, and enjoy our differences – in peace and conflict, this program is committed to challenging the patterns and tropes that organize or deny narrative templates for POC relations in this city. Colour-blind discourses of love and compassion are invested in myopic ways of imagining relations, ways that deprive us of more inclusive visions of relations, and as a result, ignore power relations that make up processes and privileges of white normalcy. We aim to capture the possibilities for love rupturing beyond the limits of containment, challenging our audience not to pull away – from the touch, from experiencing rupture, and possibly even rapture.

David and Phanuel’s event was fascinating. Please check out their own work with this and other topics. I asked them if I could relate to their exploration through the use of “against”, which they brilliantly laid out as an intimate act of struggle, a skin-to-skin grapple, refusal, and rejection. Thank you to both of these creators!

This anthology will articulate the personal experiences of the author’s near-deathness in language they may need to invent. Standard language may twist and turn to represent what magical thinking proposes. I’m searching for the incisive and articulate. No platitudes, no bromides or pep talks. Submissions must move past the sob story. The tough circumstance of facing death deserves truth, no matter how ugly or (in)convenient. Personal essay seems to be the most apt form for what I am seeking but I will consider all genres (except fiction) if they are necessary and integral to the content.

I extend a welcome to people of all experiences, backgrounds, language systems. Please share widely with communities that are underrepresented, including POC, LGBTQ2, Indigenous, rural, disabled, and any I may not be connected with. It is my hope to engage respectfully and with compassion with all contributors.