After Melissa

A beautiful project led by Andrea Bennett and conceived by Daniel Zomparelli, After You asks poets to begin a chain of dedicated work passing a new poem onward until the chain dies out organically. I began a chain by writing a poem inspired by/to/for/after Canadian author Melissa Bull, who now lives in England.

Melissa’s debut book of poems, Rue, was shortlisted for both the Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry and the Gerald Lampert Award and her translation of Nelly Arcan’s Burqa of Skin from French into English is skilled and riveting.

I wrote this for Melissa and now she will choose a poet somewhere to write to/for/about/after. The poem, “Mash”, is based on this:


a fortune teller similar to the ones I made in elementary school. In the depths of an abysmal November 2016 it felt good to make something with my hands, to smell the crayons, to  use scissors, to play. The first eight lines of the poem are the fortunes written in the teller. The rest is a mash note to Melissa.

I mailed it to her in her new home. It got there quicker than the mail internally in Canada. It took five days to make it from Vancouver, BC to Norwich, England. Here’s where it landed:


One More Time With Feeling

I’m happy to share that serpentine loop is going into a second printing! Our first print run is almost dry so Anvil Press is reissuing the book eight months after its debut. While some authors take this opportunity to reframe, rewrite or re-situate their work, not much will change in the new edition.

We found two small typos and decided to change my pedantic use of “an” before a word beginning with an aspirated “h”. Other than that we updated the bio on the back, recalibrated the colour and font size on the back, and included some reviews in a page in the front.

If you want to grab one of the last first editions, The Paper Hound in Vancouver will ship globally. And other local bookstores such as Pulp Fiction have copies on the shelves for walk-ins and locals. Both of these booksellers support our literary community with extra hours and generosity so it really pays to forgo Amazon and order through them.

Heart of the City Festival

Each year Vancouver Moving Theatre launches the impressive and vibrant Heart of the City Festival at Carnegie Community Centre. Today was the beginning of the 12 day, 100-event, 40-venue arts and community festival. The afternoon centred on the unveiling of Richard Tetrault’s vibrant mural. DTES bard Bud Osborn, poet Sandy Cameron, poetry supporter and artist Diane Wood appear in the bottom left. You can see other familiar faces, too. It’s a massive triptych – so beautiful.14633536_1292098027515728_1376112753922489463_o

The welcome and acknowledgment of territory by Carnegie’s first ever First Nations Elder in Residence, Les Nelson, was fantastic. He sang a song with his drum and pointed out his shirt was still covered in eagle down from his appointment ceremony last week. I’d never seen eagle down before.

Heart of the City Festival Director Terry Hunter presented several people with plaques – just the kind of generous and inclusive act for which Terry and his wife Savannah Walling are known.

Ghia Aweida and Gilles Cyrenne helped present mine. 14721508_1146673358719133_5790674235440775780_nTerry brought Ghia up to read a letter she wrote to me (she gave me a copy afterwards) about how Thursdays Writing Collective has helped her develop as a w14720479_1146673362052466_4968720761622220974_nriter. Gilles presented me with a collaged folder he made on a retreat with clippings all related to writing.

img_0924Bonus: he used a first draft of one of his poems, too! Inside the folder are precious letters of thanks from several writers from the group – it will take me a long time to digest their words. The experience was extremely moving.


Throughout it all new TWC director Amber Dawn was snapping photos and clapping and being a wonderful lighthouse to the writers in their new season of writing.


img_0920I needed a picture with Carnegie director Ethel Whitty who will be leaving that position in January 2017. Ethel was responsible for bringing me, and what turned into Thursdays Writing Collective, to Carnegie back in February 2008. She and SFU’s Writer’s Studio worked together to support me and ElJean Dodge in teaching a four week course in memoir. I have huge gratitude to share for Ethel, Rika Uto and the excellent staff at Carnegie.

Two of the people who first joined us for that month of writing were there today – Tom Quirk in official capacity as a photographer and Leith Harris watched as her son presented an award. Other longtime writers were in the room, too, underlining the immense number of connections we share: Phoenix Winter, President of the Carnegie Association, Robyn Livingstone, Patrick Foley.

Tomorrow, after an interview at CBC’s North By Northwest radio show I will run to Carnegie to catch the last part of class. From there we head to Gallery Gachet for our 7pm Heart of the City gig with Jordan Abel. Come join us!14711473_1122038231213931_4867353317897476529_o

Jordan Abel + Thursdays Writing Collective at the Heart of the City Festival! 

  • Thursday, Oct 27, 2016
  • Gallery Gachet, 88 East Cordova St., Vancouver
  • 7pm-10pm

Where do the mind’s eye and poetic heart meet? To celebrate our 9th season, Thursdays Writing Collective will explore the overlap between words and images and we invite you to join us. Guest Jordan Abel, a Nisga’a experimental writer from BC, will read from his highly visual and critically compelling work, followed by writing prompts and open mic.

**Bring your pens and notebooks for this event of live reading and writing.**

Jordan Abel is a Nisga’a writer residing in Vancouver. He is currently completing his PhD at Simon Fraser University where he is focusing on digital humanities and Indigenous poetics. Abel’s conceptual writing engages with the representation of Indigenous peoples in Anthropology and popular culture. His chapbooks have been published by JackPine Press and Above/Ground Press, and his work has appeared in numerous magazines and journals across Canada, including Prairie Fire, The Capilano Review, and Canadian Literature. He is an editor for Poetry Is Dead magazine and the former editor for PRISM international and Geist. Abel’s creative work has recently been anthologized in Best Canadian Poetry (Tightrope), The Land We Are: Artists and Writers Unsettle the Politics of Reconciliation (Arbiter Ring), and The New Concrete: Visual Poetry in the 21st Century (Hayword). Abel is the author of The Place of Scraps (winner of the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize and finalist for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award) and Un/inhabited. Abel’s third book, Injun, was released from Talonbooks in spring 2016.

13th Annual Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival runs Wednesday October 26 to Sunday November 6, 2016. More than 100 events take place at over 40 venues throughout the Downtown Eastside. Thursdays Writing Collective is thrilled to participate once again this year. Check out all the Heart of the City Festival events!

Gallery Gachet is a non-profit artist run centre located in the Downtown Eastside.
Gallery Accessibility Info:

front door: 5 feet width
front door step: 6 inch height
ramp: 34 inch width

washroom door: 33 inch width
toilet: 10 inch clearance on left side
14 inch clearance in front to sink
the washroom has a handrail

How Can Publishers Be More Inclusive?

An outgrowth of the panel I was on with Jónina Kirton and Chelene Knight moderated by Jen Sookfong Lee at WORD Vancouver on September 25, 2016 was an e-conversation with SFU MPub student Jess Key. She’s in a course called “Technology and Evolving Forms of Publishing.” She reached out to me on Twitter to follow up on some points the panel raised. I spoke mostly about what I see as “e-privilege” – access to info technology and social media that does not extend to all people and that cuts out a wide representation of exciting writers who merit publication.

We know access to technology is not the key ingredient in excellent writing. What does it mean to correspond only with writers who are online? What and who are left out of the literary community that forgoes offline communication? I will be asking these questions of my friends and their friends who don’t have routine, reliable access to computers. Please ask yours and let’s see what sort of changes we can make to connect more.

Big thanks to Natasha Sanders-Kay and Magazine Association of BC for programming the panel and pursuing means to make the panel itself as inclusive as possible.  These efforts included considering the diversity of the members, welcoming parents with hungry/squirmy kids, providing physical accessibility info, contacting ASL translators, videotaping the panel for people who were unable to attend, allowing for permeability with the audience and in general providing an open forum for discussion about barriers.

In­clu­siv­ity in the On­line Age: Maybe We’re Not Do­ing as Well as We Think We Are


Dur­ing the twenty-first cen­tury, there has been a mas­sive so­ci­etal shift to­wards in­clu­siv­ity. That is, the act of in­clud­ing those who may oth­er­wise be ex­cluded or mar­gin­al­ized. This shift is not new in pub­lish­ing, par­tic­u­larly here in Van­cou­ver, with mag­a­zines that aim to pub­lish a di­verse ar­ray of voices and sto­ries such as Room op­er­at­ing lo­cally. How­ever, what is rel­a­tively new is our com­mit­ment to speak­ing out about it more pub­licly.

The Mag­a­zines West Con­fer­ence, com­monly re­ferred to as MagsWest, is put on by the Mag­a­zine As­so­ci­a­tion of British Co­lum­bia and takes place every No­vem­ber. This year’s con­fer­ence boasts two events fo­cused on in­clu­siv­ity: the keynote speech by Léon­icka Val­cius which is ti­tled “On Eq­uity and In­clu­sion” and a ses­sion by Jónína Kir­ton, with Che­lene Knight, called “En­cour­ag­ing In­clu­sive­ness in Mag­a­zines.” Kir­ton and Knight, both ed­i­tors at Room, also took part in a panel called “In­clu­sive Mag­a­zine Pub­lish­ing: Bar­ri­ers and Strate­gies for Writ­ers and Pub­lish­ers” at this year’s WORD Van­cou­ver fes­ti­val, also spon­sored by MagsBC. They were joined by Elee Kraljii Gar­diner, the founder of Thurs­days Writ­ing Col­lec­tive, and the panel’s mod­er­a­tor, broad­caster and nov­el­ist Jen Sook­fong Lee. Through­out the dis­cus­sion, pan­elists ad­dressed the bar­ri­ers that mar­gin­al­ized writ­ers reg­u­larly en­counter in their quest to get pub­lished, and tried to put for­ward so­lu­tions that mag­a­zines could im­ple­ment in an ef­fort to be­come more in­clu­sive. One of the points that Kraljii Gar­diner, who works closely with res­i­dents of Van­cou­ver’s Down­town East­side, put for­ward is that pub­lisher’s re­liance on the web is prob­lem­atic for swaths of po­ten­tial writ­ers. As a per­son who comes from a place of “e-priv­i­lege” (a term that Kraljii Gar­diner used) I had only ever ex­pe­ri­enced the ways that the web has made pub­lish­ing more in­clu­sive, and through­out this es­say I want to ex­plore the ways in which pub­lish­ers have be­come re­liant on the web to the point of ex­clu­siv­ity.

I do not be­lieve I had been alone in my per­cep­tion that the in­ter­net has made pub­lish­ing more in­clu­sive, largely be­cause in some ways it is true that is has. It be­comes an in­ter­est­ing di­chotomy be­cause in many ways the in­ter­net has al­lowed for eas­ier, less ex­pen­sive ac­cess. Stu­dents like my­self, who tend to be lower-in­come but have easy ac­cess to the in­ter­net at school, tend to rely on web ac­cess a lot. In gen­eral, eBooks are less ex­pen­sive, and less in­tru­sive in lim­ited space, than print books.

In his TED talk “Laws that choke cre­ativ­ity” Lawrence Lessig spoke to how the in­ter­net al­lows for user-gen­er­ated con­tent, and the cel­e­bra­tion am­a­teur cul­ture. In this case he was speak­ing about non-com­mer­cial use, but this has be­come true for many as­pects of pub­lish­ing. On­line pub­li­ca­tions do not have to worry about page counts the same way print pub­li­ca­tions do, and there­fore have the abil­ity to pub­lish more con­tent by a more di­verse ar­ray of voices. In fact, due to this many on­line ver­sions of print mag­a­zines ac­tu­ally of­fer ad­di­tional con­tent com­pared to their print coun­ter­parts.

Self-pub­lish­ing, both ar­ti­cles and eBooks, gives the au­thor more con­trol over their work. Fur­ther, the web, and par­tic­u­larly so­cial me­dia, gives them the op­por­tu­nity to both self-pro­mote and to find or es­tab­lish the niche com­mu­ni­ties that make up their in­tended au­di­ence. Web­sites like Medium have been de­vel­oped to give an es­tab­lished plat­form to those who wish to pub­lish ar­ti­cles on­line. On­line ed­i­to­r­ial col­lec­tives help those who can­not af­ford to hire a free­lance ed­i­tor to pre­pare their man­u­script prior to self-pub­lish­ing or sub­mit­ting to tra­di­tional pub­lish­ing en­ti­ties.

In­clu­sivepub­lish­ was cre­ated to help pub­lish­ers learn how to cre­ate dig­i­tal con­tent “in for­mats ac­ces­si­ble to peo­ple with print dis­abil­i­ties.” As such, the web has al­lowed those who were pre­vi­ously un­able to par­take in much of to­day’s tra­di­tion­ally pub­lished con­tent to now ac­cess it.

How­ever, all of these afore­men­tioned ben­e­fits are only avail­able for those who have easy and reg­u­lar ac­cess to tech­nol­ogy. So in what way is the pub­lish­ing world ex­clud­ing those who do not?

Mar­ket­ing and Ad­ver­tis­ing

As I was walk­ing along West Hast­ings Street on my way to school early this Sep­tem­ber, I was sur­prised to see an en­tire wall plas­tered with posters for the Van­cou­ver Writer’s Fest. As a per­son who has a Twit­ter ac­count pri­mar­ily to keep track of sub­mis­sions dead­lines and lit­er­ary events in the city (an­other ex­am­ple of my e-priv­i­lege), it struck me how rare it was to see printed mar­ket­ing ma­te­ri­als around the city.

So­cial me­dia has be­gun to be per­ceived as a “sil­ver bul­let” — though mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sional Zoe Grams of ZG Com­mu­ni­ca­tions cau­tioned our Mas­ters of Pub­lish­ing class against view­ing it that way when she spoke to us this fall. This is due to the fact that it is rel­a­tively low-cost, as the largest bud­get­ing con­sid­er­a­tion for so­cial me­dia is sim­ply time, as op­posed to the print­ing costs as­so­ci­ated with posters, book­marks, and the like. The Key Per­for­mance In­di­ca­tors are easy to track, as likes, shares, and posts us­ing ded­i­cated hash­tags pro­vide no­ti­fi­ca­tions to whomever posts the con­tent. Fur­ther, the broad au­di­ence reach of so­cial me­dia makes it eas­ier to dis­sem­i­nate ideas and con­tent. If a com­pany does con­tent mar­ket­ing well, their cus­tomers be­come brand am­bas­sadors. Thus, pub­lish­ers have be­gun ad­ver­tis­ing their con­tests and dead­lines pri­mar­ily on­line, and par­tic­u­larly through so­cial me­dia.


If you have con­sid­ered sub­mit­ting your work to a lo­cal lit­er­ary or arts jour­nal lately, you have prob­a­bly en­coun­tered some­thing called Sub­mit­table, which is an on­line plat­form that pub­lish­ing houses and mag­a­zines use in ac­qui­si­tions.

Per the Sub­mit­table web­site:

“Ac­cept­ing and cu­rat­ing con­tent sub­mis­sions for pub­li­ca­tion is the most com­mon use of Sub­mit­table and is what the clas­sic Sub­mit­table client uses our soft­ware to do. With­out the right soft­ware, man­ag­ing sub­mis­sions can be a time and la­bor-in­ten­sive process for mag­a­zines, news­pa­pers, and film and au­dio or­ga­ni­za­tions. Sub­mit­table has cen­tral­ized the sub­mis­sion, pay­ment, and man­age­ment plat­forms into a sin­gle on­line lo­ca­tion. Al­low your sub­mit­ters to eas­ily sub­mit in any medium, in­clud­ing doc­u­ments, im­ages, sound, video, and more; es­tab­lish your team mem­ber ac­counts; and vote on and ac­cept en­tries in one ef­fi­cient and user-friendly place. All you need is a browser.”

With such fea­tures, it be­comes ap­par­ent why pub­lish­ers have be­gun uti­liz­ing it as a tool. Some pub­lish­ers have be­gun to ac­cept only on­line sub­mis­sions, whether that be via email or Sub­mit­table, due to a myr­iad of rea­sons. These in­clude the stream­lined process Sub­mit­table promises, en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns (less pa­per is used when sub­mit­ting on­line), and lack of space to store man­u­scripts (a place I in­terned had man­u­scripts piled waist high and four stacks deep.)

Con­versely, other pub­lish­ers have re­fused to al­low on­line sub­mis­sions at all. Geist, a lit­er­ary mag­a­zine, used to al­low for on­line sub­mis­sions but per the sub­mis­sions page on their web­site they no longer do. I can only as­sume that the rel­a­tive ease of email meant that they re­ceived an on­slaught of sub­mis­sions. The pub­lish­ing house I in­terned for de­scribed them­selves as “a lit­tle old school” and liked to read and mark up man­u­scripts on pa­per, and did not want to take on the cost of print­ing their many sub­mis­sions them­selves.

All of the above rea­sons are valid in my mind, and I can un­der­stand how pub­lish­ers would want to make their ac­qui­si­tions as sim­ple as pos­si­ble. Jug­gling mul­ti­ple sub­mis­sions plat­forms can be time con­sum­ing, and log­ging man­u­scripts is gen­er­ally a task del­e­gated to an in­tern in a time when most pub­lish­ers are try­ing to do more on a skele­ton bud­get. How­ever, the heart of any pub­lish­ing pro­gram is the work they are pub­lish­ing, so when it comes to sub­mit­ting, shouldn’t the ease for the writ­ers be at least tan­ta­mount in im­por­tance to mak­ing it easy for the mag­a­zine or press? Re­fus­ing to ac­cept both hard copy and on­line sub­mis­sions is again detri­men­tal to mak­ing the ac­qui­si­tions process truly in­clu­sive.

Table: How 20 BC Book Pub­lish­ers and Lit­er­ary and Arts Mag­a­zines Ac­cept Sub­mis­sions:

On­line only
(Sub­mit­table or email)
Hard copy only Both hard copy and on­line (Sub­mit­table or email)
The Capi­lano Re­view
Po­etry is Dead
Room Mag­a­zine
The Mala­hat Re­view
Anvil Press
Ar­se­nal Pulp Press
Geist Mag­a­zine
Rons­dale Press
Her­itage House Pub­lish­ing Co.
Brindle & Glass
Grey­stone Books
Har­bour Pub­lish­ing
NEO-OP­SIS Sci­ence Fic­tion Mag­a­zine
New Star Books
Prism In­ter­na­tional
5/20 6/20 9/20

As this chart shows, only 45% of the lo­cal pub­lish­ers whose sub­mis­sions pages I looked at ac­cepted both hard copy and dig­i­tal sub­mis­sions, with 55% ac­cept­ing only one or the other.

Au­thor Plat­forms

When speak­ing of skele­ton bud­gets, and the con­cept of pub­lish­ers do­ing more with less, there has been a new em­pha­sis on the au­thor be­ing ex­pected to as­sist in mar­ket­ing their own book. Thus, one of the con­sid­er­a­tions that pub­lish­ing houses take into ac­count when re­ceiv­ing an un­so­licited man­u­script or pro­posal is the au­thors so­cial plat­forms. Are they well-fol­lowed and con­sid­ered an au­thor­ity on their topic on so­cial me­dia? Do they have a built in au­di­ence of peo­ple who will buy the book be­cause they al­ready fol­low them? While this is not the num­ber one de­cid­ing fac­tor in ac­qui­si­tions, it does seem to be an as­pect that does hold at least a small amount of weight.

Who Is Be­ing Ex­cluded?

Ac­cord­ing to In­ter­net Live Stats 88.5 % of Cana­di­ans use the in­ter­net. With a pop­u­la­tion of 36,286,378 as of 2016, this means that 4,165,859 peo­ple are with­out in­ter­net ac­cess. In mar­ket­ing class, we have dis­cussed the con­cept of “per­sonas” which are ba­si­cally char­ac­ter sketches of an ideal au­di­ence for the prod­uct or ser­vice you are of­fer­ing. When I con­sid­ered the above sta­tis­tics, and there­fore the peo­ple that pub­lish­ing’s re­liance on the on­line world im­pacts, I was left with more than one per­sona that was ex­cluded. For the sake of this es­say, I have con­cen­trated on five be­low:

  • The first is an el­derly per­son who is in­tim­i­dated by new tech­nol­ogy, and does not un­der­stand how to uti­lize so­cial me­dia. Through­out their life­time they have had a wealth of ex­pe­ri­ences, and they par­tic­i­pate in the oral sto­ry­telling tra­di­tion by shar­ing those with their chil­dren and grand­chil­dren.
  • The sec­ond, a per­son who lives re­motely and does not have in­ter­net ac­cess in their home, but reads print books vo­ra­ciously in their spare time and jour­nals their own ex­pe­ri­ences.
  • The third, a writer who is shy or suf­fers from anx­i­ety. While they may have the tech­ni­cal skills to fol­low the mag­a­zines and pub­lish­ing houses they wish to sub­mit to on so­cial me­dia, they do not see them­selves as hav­ing the abil­ity or charisma to build up the kind of on­line pres­ence and fol­low­ing that pub­lish­ing houses look for in first time au­thors.
  • The fourth, a Down­town East­side res­i­dent. Cer­tain cir­cum­stances in their life have left them with­out con­sis­tent, safe hous­ing, and al­though their abil­ity to ac­cess the in­ter­net on a reg­u­lar ba­sis is not a pri­mary con­cern, they love sto­ry­telling and have a life­time worth of ex­pe­ri­ences to share.
  • Fifth, a writer, whom for what­ever rea­son, wishes to pub­lish anony­mously or un­der a pseu­do­nym (as is their moral right). While the ini­tial im­pres­sion may be that the rel­a­tive anonymity of the in­ter­net would ac­tu­ally make this eas­ier (think: the fa­mous The New Yorker car­toon by Pe­ter Steiner in 1993 pro­claim­ing “On the In­ter­net, no­body knows you’re a dog”) events over the last few years have proven this may not be the case. There is a rea­son that, in 2015, The New Yorker pub­lished an­other car­toon that seem­ingly ref­er­enced the orig­i­nal. This one, by Kaam­ran Hafeez fea­tured two dogs look­ing at each other and say­ing: “Re­mem­ber when, on the In­ter­net, no­body knew who you were?” Re­cent no­table ex­am­ples of au­thors pub­lish­ing un­der pseu­do­nyms and then be­ing outed on­line in­clude J.K. Rowl­ing and Elena Fer­rante. Rowl­ing was outed on­line af­ter pub­lish­ing The Cuckoo’s Call­ing un­der the name Robert Gal­braith, and Fer­rante’s real iden­tity was the sub­ject of a much crit­i­cized witch hunt by Ital­ian jour­nal­ist Clau­dio Gatti. Which the preva­lence of so­cial me­dia and the fre­quency with which it is used, when some­thing like this is un­cov­ered it can spread around the world in the mat­ter of hours.

I have no doubt that there are worth­while works com­ing from writ­ers that fit these per­sonas, and I can only imag­ine how many more would be pro­duced should pub­lish­ers make more of an ef­fort to reach them.

Ways We Can Im­prove

All of this is not to say that the pub­lish­ing world should not be uti­liz­ing the abil­i­ties of the web. Firstly, it would be in­ad­vis­able (if not in­sane) not to at this day and age, when the stats I’ve cited ear­lier show that 88.5% of Cana­dian’s are on­line in some ca­pac­ity. Sec­ondly, there are many ways that pub­lish­ers can uti­lize the web to in­deed be more in­clu­sive, such as the ex­am­ples I have listed through­out this es­say. The point is, that in our cur­rent-day ob­ses­sion with the in­ter­net, the thought of go­ing of­fline no longer seems to oc­cur to us. This is slightly ironic in an in­dus­try that ro­man­ti­cizes and even fetishizes printed books. So how do we, as pre­sent and fu­ture pub­lish­ing pro­fes­sion­als, uti­lize all the unique and im­por­tant op­por­tu­ni­ties the web has given us with­out be­com­ing re­liant on them? A bal­ance needs to be found.

The fourth per­sona that I men­tioned is the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind Thurs­days Writ­ing Col­lec­tive, which was founded by Elee Kraljii Gar­diner who is a writer, an ed­i­tor, and a found­ing mem­ber of CWILA (Cana­dian Women in the Lit­er­ary Arts). The Col­lec­tive holds free work­shops for res­i­dents of the Down­ton East­side, and they de­scribe their mis­sion as two-fold: “to hold a space for writ­ers and to bring that work to a wider au­di­ence.” As such, they have pub­lished chap­book an­tholo­gies for the work cre­ated dur­ing the work­shops. In 2010, they also started Thurs­days Edit­ing Col­lec­tive which con­sists of pro­fes­sional ed­i­tors and writ­ers who work with the work­shop par­tic­i­pants to sub­mit their writ­ing to other pub­li­ca­tions.

Af­ter at­tend­ing WORD Van­cou­ver’s “In­clu­sive Mag­a­zine Pub­lish­ing” panel, I reached out to Kraljii Gar­diner via Twit­ter and asked her if she would be will­ing to an­swer some fol­low up ques­tions to ex­pand on some the points she made dur­ing the panel dis­cus­sion. Thank­fully, she agreed and pro­vided me with some fur­ther thoughts on ac­cess and how our lo­cal lit­er­ary com­mu­nity is do­ing with it.

She echoed the con­cerns I men­tioned about pub­lisher’s re­liance on us­ing so­cial me­dia, com­ment­ing that they are us­ing “the same old rut of twit­ter and Face­book to reach the same old peo­ple. It is a well-worn path with which they reach the fa­mil­iar au­di­ence.” This seems di­rectly at odds with the oft stated goal of want­ing to pub­lish a di­verse ar­ray of new voices that rep­re­sent Canada that you hear from many pub­lish­ers. As some­one who has been an ac­tive part of the Van­cou­ver lit­er­ary scene, she ad­mit­ted that she hasn’t “been stunned by any­body’s ef­forts, to be hon­est” when it comes to reach­ing out to those who do not have con­sis­tent ac­cess to the web. She did qual­ify this how­ever by ac­knowl­edg­ing her own e-priv­i­lege and the fact that she her­self is very so­cial me­dia ori­ented.

Thurs­days Writ­ers Col­lec­tive has in­sti­gated a spon­sor­ship pro­gram for sub­mis­sions fees, with Kraljii Gar­diner reach­ing out on Face­book to ask if the writ­ers she had con­nected with on­line would con­sider spon­sor­ing a Down­town East­side writer by pay­ing their fee. They have suc­cess­fully im­ple­mented this pro­gram a few times, with the most re­cent part­ner­ship be­ing with sub­Ter­rain who she de­scribed as great. The group gath­ered names of donors, col­lected sub­mis­sions from the writ­ers by telling them about the op­por­tu­nity and then sent them in. The donors paid Thurs­days Writ­ing Col­lec­tive and TWC paid for the sub­mis­sion fees all at once. She ex­plained that they did not pair donors with writ­ers di­rectly, say­ing it would be “tricky and a bit per­sonal and heavy.” They pitched it as “if you are sub­mit­ting to this con­test why not con­sider spon­sor­ing a DTES writer at the same time” and it got a great re­sponse. She wishes that lit­er­ary mag­a­zines and or­ga­ni­za­tions would com­mit to hav­ing a do­na­tion but­ton on their web­sites for this at all times.

When I asked her what prac­tices she would like to see mag­a­zines and pub­lish­ing houses adopt to reach out to those with­out good, re­li­able in­ter­net ac­cess, she was able to make con­crete sug­ges­tions that were also rel­a­tively low cost and easy to im­ple­ment. These in­cluded:

  • Reach­ing out by fax­ing or call­ing mosques
  • Record­ing an­nounce­ments for co-op and stu­dent ra­dio sta­tions
  • Print­ing out hand-sized info pam­phlets for com­mu­nity cen­ters and li­braries
  • Craigslist an­nounce­ments
  • Post­ing book­marks on bul­letin boards at com­mu­nity col­leges, night schools, and ESL schools

She cited her per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence from edit­ing V6A: Writ­ing from Van­cou­ver’s Down­town East­side, say­ing: “I used the bul­letin boards in the DTES as well as COOP ra­dio and strate­gic word of mouth cam­paigns. I also made an arrange­ment with the li­brary to have a box for hand­writ­ten sub­mis­sions so peo­ple wouldn’t have to pay postage. I was go­ing off what the writ­ers at TWC told me helped and didn’t have any prior model to fol­low.”

Kraljii Gar­diner’s own ex­pe­ri­ences are ex­am­ples of pub­lish­ing pro­fes­sion­als uti­liz­ing their on­line chan­nels to pro­mote in­clu­siv­ity. Per­haps these can be­come a part of a new stan­dard, the model that she had sought when she be­gan Thurs­days Writ­ing Col­lec­tive. In ex­am­in­ing the ways in which we ac­quire man­u­scripts, both in the tech­ni­cal sub­mis­sions process and in the de­ci­sion mak­ing process for the voices we rep­re­sent, as well as di­ver­si­fy­ing the way we reach po­ten­tial writ­ers, we can po­ten­tially get our­selves out of the rut we have cre­ated. Hope­fully, the more we dis­cuss these ideas in pub­lic fo­rums such as pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment con­fer­ences, the more pub­lish­ers will make true in­clu­siv­ity a pri­or­ity in their pub­lish­ing pro­grams.

Works Cited

“About: Sub­mis­sion Guide­lines.” Brindle and Glass, Ac­cessed 13 Oc­to­ber 2016.

“Call for Sub­mis­sions: Let Them See You Sweat.” Po­etry is Ac­cessed 13 Oc­to­ber 2016.

“Con­tact.” Ar­se­nal Pulp Press, Ac­cessed 13 Oc­to­ber 2016.

“Con­tent and Pub­lish­ing Sub­mis­sions.” Sub­mit­ Ac­cessed 10 Oc­to­ber 2016.

Fleish­man, Glenn. “Car­toon Cap­tures Spirit of the In­ter­net.” The New York Times, 14 De­cem­ber 2000, Ac­cessed 13 Oc­to­ber 2016.

Grams, Zoe. “Mar­ket­ing Plans for Books.” Si­mon Fraser Uni­ver­sity, Van­cou­ver. 6 Oc­to­ber 2016.

“Guide­lines for Man­u­script Sub­mis­sions.” Rons­dale Press, rons­­mis­sions/. Ac­cessed 13 Oc­to­ber 2016

“Guide­lines for Writ­ers.” Anvil Press, Ac­cessed 13 Oc­to­ber 2016.

In­clu­sive Pub­lish­ing. DAISY Con­sor­tium, in­clu­sivepub­lish­ Ac­cessed 10 Oc­to­ber 2016.

“In­ter­net Users by Coun­try.” In­ter­net Live Ac­cessed 13 Oc­to­ber 2016.

Kraljii Gar­diner, Elee “Re: Ac­cess Ques­tions.” Mes­sage to Jes­sica Key. 6 Oc­to­ber 2016. E-mail.

Lessig, Lawrence. “Laws that choke cre­ativ­ity.” TED. March 2007. Lec­ture. Ac­cessed 8 Oc­to­ber 2016.

“Mag­a­zines West 2016.” Mag­a­zine As­so­ci­a­tion of British Co­lum­ Ac­cessed 12 Oc­to­ber 2016.

“NEO-OP­SIS Sub­mis­sion Guide­lines.” NEO-OP­SIS Sci­ence Fic­tion Mag­a­zine, Ac­cessed 13 Oc­to­ber 2016.

Room. Room Mag­a­zine, room­ Ac­cessed 13 Oc­to­ber 2016.

“Sched­ule.” Word Van­cou­ver, word­van­cou­­ti­val/sched­ule/. Ac­cessed 12 Oc­to­ber 2016.

“Sub­mis­sion Guide­line.” Ad­busters, Ac­cessed 13 Oc­to­ber 2016.

“Sub­mis­sions Guide­lines.” Geist Mag­a­ Ac­cessed 13 Oc­to­ber 2016.

“Sub­mis­sion Guide­lines.” Talon­books, talon­­mis­sion-guide­lines/. Ac­cessed 13 Oc­to­ber 2016.

“Sub­mis­sion Guide­lines.” The Mala­hat Re­view, Ac­cessed 13 Oc­to­ber 2016.

“Sub­mis­sion Guide­lines for Au­thors.” Her­itage House Pub­lish­ing Com­pany, Ac­cessed 13 Oc­to­ber 2016.

“Sub­mis­sions.” Grey­stone Books, grey­stone­­mis­sions. Ac­cessed 13 Oc­to­ber 2016.

“Sub­mis­sions.” New Star Books, Ac­cessed 13 Oc­to­ber 2016.

“Sub­mis­sions.” Room Mag­a­zine, room­­mit. Ac­cessed 13 Oc­to­ber 2016.

“Sub­mis­sions.” SAD Mag, Ac­cessed 13 Oc­to­ber 2016.

“Sub­mis­sions.” The Capi­lano Re­ Ac­cessed 13 Oc­to­ber 2016.

“Sub­mis­sions to Har­bour: Guide­lines for Writ­ers.” Har­bour Pub­lish­ing, Ac­cessed 13 Oc­to­ber 2016.

“Sub­mit.” PRISM in­ter­na­tional, pris­m­­mit/. Ac­cessed 13 Oc­to­ber 2016.

“Sub­mit.” EVENT, Ac­cessed 13 Oc­to­ber 2016.

“Thurs­days Edit­ing Col­lec­tive.” Thurs­days Writ­ing Col­lec­ Ac­cessed 8 Oc­to­ber 2016.

“Who We Are.” Thurs­days Writ­ing Col­lec­ Ac­cessed 8 Oc­to­ber 2016.

“Writer’s Guide­lines.” sub­Ter­rain, sub­ter­­rain-writer-s-guide­lines. Ac­cessed 13 Oc­to­ber 2016.

Wy­att, Daisy. “How JK was re­vealed as the true au­thor be­hind the Robert Gal­braith nov­els.” The In­de­pen­dent, 16 Oc­to­ber 2015, Ac­cessed 11 Oc­to­ber 2016.


Read Local

image003I’m extremely excited to read with Julie Emerson, Evelyn Lau and Fred Wah as part of Read Local BC at PulpFiction, my local hookup for books. While I just met Julie when I read at WORD Vancouver last month, Evelyn is someone I have known and respected since I began writing at Carnegie Community Centre with Thursdays Writing Collective in 2008. Evelyn wrote her first poems at Carnegie as a 16 year old – poems that became her first book, Runaway. She was also the third Vancouver Poet Laureate and our paths have crossed in many wonderful ways but never as readers on the same bill.

I’m also extremely excited about reading with Fred Wah. Fred, who was Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada from 2011-2013, is another major figure in Canadian letters and someone I am always happy to bump into because of his warmth and sense of fun. Fred has visited us at Thursdays Writing Collective to write and his support of emerging voices is consistent. He even appeared in the CBC doc we did.

I am curious to see how our words interact, even though it appears the format will be linear and segmented. I’m reading for 10 minutes before Julie, then Evelyn, then Fred. PulpFiction is limited with seating but hosted by the excellent proprietor Chris Brayshaw so if you want a vantage point, come early.


Book Skating Rink Launch

We had a book-skating party in Dorchester, MA at the Devine Rink on Oct 1, 2016. We were supposed to be in a different rink but they had a last minute fail of refridgeration and didn’t have ice.  Despite the change a crowd of people came out in the foul rain to the friendly Devine Rink.

The hockey parents who were waiting for their bantam players were very cool about suddenly being in the midst of a poetry event.


We put on music composed by Chris Gainey  – a piece called “Funnel Cloud” that he wrote prompted by serpentine loop. It was recorded by the University of Iowa New Music Quartet.

Elin Schran skated to Funnel Cloud with everyone on the ice and then she skated a program based on her reading of serpentine loop that she choreographed to her reading!

We do have video and I’ll figure out how to get it here. It was beautiful and evidence of her close reading. The interesting thing is that she has never skated the program the same way twice. It is an intuitive and open program – the way she uses edges is phenomenal.

Thanks to everyone who came to skate with us and to the people who bought copy of the book! I got a chance to meet skaters, neighbours and readers I didn’t know before. One of

img_0700these people, John, is an extremely talented skate sharpener. He actually is a metal worker for NASA so he really knows his stuff. As I came off the nice I noticed my blade was loose and wobbly – John took my skates home and tightened the blades and sharpened them exquisitely. As payment he took a copy of the book, which is probably the first time poetry has been bartered for blades.


September has always felt like the beginning of the new year for me. It’s fitting to announce a major change as the calendar clicks over to month nine. Here’s a letter I sent to the participants at Thursdays Writing Collective. In the last 24 hours I have been the recipient of tender, supportive responses from the people who have helped me hone my writing skills. I cannot speak highly enough of the participants – or their new director!

Dear Thursdays Writing Collective writers,

When I started writing at Carnegie Community Centre in February 2008 I didn’t expect to become so deeply knit into the literary community of the Downtown Eastside. I thought I was co-facilitating a four-week course!

Now just shy of nine years later, we have spent thousands of hours of writing together. We’ve made eight publications, and collaborated with scores of international writers and artists. We have solidified Thursdays Writing Collective as a vivacious, knowledgeable and creative group with a strong reputation not only locally but nationally, too. Writing and talking with Thursdays Writing Collective has made me a better writer, a better editor, and it has taught me how to teach. It has also brought me the connections and friendships that are the best part of everything good.

Thursday afternoons have been a favourite day of mine since that first class in February 2008 – no matter what is happening in the world, I leave the third floor classroom feeling better about things – about life, about writing, about creativity. My kids have grown up knowing the reason I’m not picking them up at school on Thursdays is because I’m part of something much bigger than myself. They have seen me squeeze email answers, financial planning sessions, board meetings, runs to the printers and late night readings into our lives and they know how important and joyful this work is to me.

We have created a special magic together and thanks to all of you, the ripple continues to surge outward. We have a really exciting year planned of writing about “Visualizing the Word” and we have the support of Canada Council for the Arts to make it happen in a beautiful way.

Thursdays Writing Collective has thrived on two main rules: the first one is about the writing prompts and you have probably heard me say it a million times: “there is no way to do it wrong.” The second rule speaks to the why and the how of involvement in the Collective: “work to your joy level.” Focussing on what serves us each best in regards to our time together ensures our collective success. How do we make the experience joyful, even if we are doing hard or painful work? How do we structure our efforts to support each other rather than sap us emotionally or time-wise?

My time inside the classroom writing with everyone is a blast. The amount of work and administrative tasks that happen outside our time together, not so much anymore. In thinking about “the joy level” several things became clear to me this spring. I need a change. I want the Collective to continue full force. I want to continue to be connected with it, and all of you. It is time for me to hand over the day-to-day direction and the facilitating.

I’m delighted to let you know that what I wrote out as my “dream scenario” is happening, and happening in a way that will leave the Collective better, faster and stronger. Beginning in September I will be stepping down as Director of Thursdays Writing Collective. I will remain as a board member and continue as an active writing member, when I am able to attend.

The new Director is Amber Dawn, an award-winning, multi-genre, multi-book author who has years of experience teaching inside and outside of university settings. Amber Dawn wrote with us in our 

Amber Dawn with Antonette Rea at Thursdays Writing Collective’s LETTERING

LETTERING project two years ago and as a board member has been engaged with all sorts of support for our IMG_3106organization. Most recently, she MC’d our Literary Verses and Courses event at Heartwood Community Café with Cease Wyss.

Here is her bio:

Amber Dawn is a writer living on unceded territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations (Vancouver, Canada). Her memoir How Poetry Saved My Life: A Hustler’s Memoir won the 2013 Vancouver Book Award. She is the author of the Lambda Award-winning novel Sub Rosa, and editor of the anthologies Fist of the Spider Women: Fear and Queer Desireand With A Rough Tongue. Her newest book Where the words and my body begins is a collection of glosa form poems. She currently teaches creative writing at Douglas College and the University of British Columbia, as well as volunteer mentors at several community-driven art and healing spaces.

When I say I can’t imagine a better Director, I mean it. Amber Dawn is a committed DTES community member with a wide-range of interests and literary connections. She is also uniquely attuned to the characteristics of our group and knows how to enhance the spark, rather than smother it. IMG_2891 (1)Amber Dawn’s intellect, gentleness and sense of fun are going to be a huge boon to TWC. I can’t wait to see things take off.

I hope you all understand how excited I am about this change for all of us. I will have much more open time to spend with my kids and to write (I have two more books coming out!) and I’m looking forward to recharging my batteries. TWC gets to have a fluid hand-off from me to Amber Dawn – I’ll be around at sessions, events, and so forth. And Amber Dawn is really energized about connecting with this committed, talented group of writers.

In the past few months I have seen you stretch and reach and try new things, both in your writing and off the page. This growth reassures me that TWC will adapt and evolve in all the best ways – some will be familiar and others will be surprising.

I won’t say goodbye – we’ll stay in touch – but I will say hello to Amber Dawn as she begins leading TWC’s regular Thursdays classes from 2pm – 4pm beginning September 15, 2016.

Please update your address book with Amber Dawn’s contact info:

amberdawn (at)

And continue to stay in touch with the group via and Facebook!

To each of you I send warmth and gratitude for the past experiences and in anticipation of the new ones!