Issue 21 Launch Preparation

Okay, here’s the low-downfor if you haven’t ever been to one of our launches before:

  1. Have a bath. Preferably with a bath bomb, salts, or bubbles. And a cat, you have permission to borrow your neighbour’s if you are lacking a cat.
  2. Read a book of poetry. A whole book. Preferably from a local-ish poet. (Image below is to help visualize steps 1 & 2. Poem courtesy of Robert Kroetsch’s collection “Too Bad: Sketches Toward a Self-Portrait”)
  3. Drink half a bottle of wine (or a full bottle–we won’t judge)
  4. Realise you’re late for the launch
  5. Throw on whatever clothes you have closest to you
  6. Forget to dry your hair
  7. Come down to Shelf Life Books


Alternatively, if you are just getting off of work (or hate baths, cats, and poetry–wait, are you a real person?) you can just swing by Shelf Life Books at 7pm to hear some awesome readers featured in Issue 21 and/or on this blog!

Issue 21 Launch Party at Shelf Life Books

Good afternoon everyone! Just a quick note to remind you that today is the day–we are launching our beautiful Issue 21 at Shelf Life Books in Calgary at 7pm tonight! (Be there or be square!).

Also, how about a shout-out to Shelf Life? Aren’t they fantastic for hosting us? If you don’t know, we have our launch party at a different venue for each Issue, just to make it special, and this launch is at Shelf Life.

Shelf Life is a cute book store in Calgary on 4th street and 13th ave SW. They regularly host magazine launches (like ours! and filling Station’s, which is next week, May 3rd) and book launches. Actually, they have cool events all the time. Check out their Facebook page for more info: . If you’re in Calgary you should probably check them out (and if you’re not in Calgary then you need to ask yourself why you aren’t here). Here’s a link to Shelf Life Books’s website: and if you’re on Instagram you should follow them because they post pictures of books and a really cute dog. Anyway, hope to see you in a few hours!

“A Short Account of the Myrtle Chicken’s Terror” by Ethan Vilu

Good morning! This is the home stretch–our Issue 21 launch is TOMORROW at Shelf Life Books! And here is our last teaser for this issue–if you want more you should come check out the readings at our launch tomorrow.

This piece is by Ethan Vilu, an undergrad at the University of Toronto who studies Christian History and East Asian Studies. Their poetry has been published in Peculiar Mormyrid and The Trinity Review. Originally from Calgary, their time is evenly split between Southern Ontario and Alberta.

A Short Account of the Myrtle Chicken’s Terror

Deep in the cavernous depths of the forest, under the verdant carpet of ferns and towering conifers, a myrtle chicken ran sprinting across the moss. Ducking under logs and other deadfall that was strewn across the forest floor, he knocked the caps off of some polypore mushrooms as he moved quickly towards a nearby clearing. Everything in the forest, as far as the chicken could see or could even conceive, was resplendent in green, in all shades of green imaginable – it was a vast altar, an eden of leaves and spores that the myrtle chicken ran through, going on and on through the deep, primeval veil.


Off in the distance, barely audible to the one who was myrtle, two other chickens were moving with powerful focus towards the same clearing – one of them was the color of asparagus, and the other was a green that was as dark as a rainforest midnight. Running swiftly through the interwoven devil’s club and ferns which formed the underbrush, they passed over divots and rises in the earth in their determined pursuit of the coming open space. Sunlight shone through the spruces and the pines, whose needles were a green which spoke to endless eons, and to endless rebirth and life – and the chickens moved as if in a sea of green embodied.


As the three chickens – those of myrtle, of asparagus and of midnight – advanced at last upon the clearing, they were joined at all sides by chickens in all shades of green which may be known by the mind. There were chickens in endless variants of spring and early summer, and chickens the color of a manicured lawn; there were chickens who were like limes and bright green apples in their plumage, and there were chickens like avocados and olives fresh from the tree. There were chickens like shamrocks and seaweed and mint, and like all manner of leaves in the world; there was even a chicken whose green feathers could only be described as neon, and a chicken who shone bright as a priceless emerald. All of these birds converged as one upon the forest clearing, and together they found immediate, primal, beatific ecstasy, for they were the consciousness of green itself.


And they ran. They ran as the living movement of that embodiment across the floor of the forest, through the lush, imminent trees that were as tall as the sky, through the endless waves and manifestations of the undergrowth which moved out towards eternity. They ran and they ran, accelerating as they moved through the verdancy, and together they raised a call, quiet at first but soon radiating piercingly through all parts of the forest. With this movement and sound, the green chickens spoke to a joy unimaginable to us in its scope, a joy of perpetual, final simplicity, of all of the shades in full consonance with the universe. A joy which should have gone on forever, should have destroyed any feeble sense of time itself, but which instead came to a screeching, skidding, tumbling, heart-shattering halt at an unexpected drop in the ground.


For in their euphoric movement through the forest, the green chickens had come upon a lake, and the lake was blue.


It was unambiguously blue.
It was, without qualification, a deep, radiant, and unreserved shade of blue.


And the chickens, in a moment, like the snuffing of a candle, lost everything that was theirs.  All that they’d had, and all that they’d known, disappeared into that lake of water and sapphires, of blueberries and cornflowers and oceans of never-ending depth.They stood at the banks, and all of them were silent. All of them, except for the myrtle chicken – who, after a time, let out a cry which reverberates with us to this day, a scream throughout the vanishing ages, a lone, terrorized wail.

“Aboris” by Allison Keizer

Good Afternoon! As promised, here’s our last poetry teaser for Issue 21!

Allison Keizer has both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Education from the UofC, which makes sense as she is a passionate teacher, writer, and photographer. She strives to introduce her students to the magic of creative writing and enjoys incorporating her love of the outdoors into all her work. She has a poem series in Issue 21 where you can see all her interests work together!



static stains wind

deep carmine




on fingertips


gauzy and yawning

blurry zephyr





pulsus erythrean



canines wink




ebbs and summons

immersed in





sine fine




of nebula


unlit ocean


effervescence of





“ut domum” 

Back Issues & Issue 21 Launch

Good morning! The countdown is on– only 57 hours until we gather with you lovely people at Shelf Life Books! Can you believe it’s so close? And you haven’t even picked up our last issue yet (or you got that one but not the one before it) and you were really meaning to get a copy before Issue 21 came out. Don’t worry about it–we’ve all been there, and that’s why we have a handy-dandy online shop! You don’t need to stress about tracking us down in our office at the UofC campus (especially if you’re from out of town)–you can purchase a back issue right from this blog post!

Here’s the link to our online shop:

If you want a back issue this is the place to get it because we won’t be carrying copies with us to the launch of Thursday. The link is also available anytime through our “shop” link on this website (right next to our “mandate” and “submission” buttons).

nod pic.jpg


Artwork by Lissa McFarland

Good evening everyone! Only a few days until the launch of Issue 21, and to get you as excited about it as we are, we’re giving you a teaser a day! Tomorrow is poetry, Wednesday is prose, so that means today it’s some visuals!

Today’s work is by Lissa McFarland, an ACAD student who works in multiple mediums (ink, watercolour, print media, and digital media). Her work engages with narrative to encourage the viewer to interact with the piece and fill in the story. Other pieces by her will be featured in Issue 21 and as the cover (which appears on our blog home page right now!)



“Selections From Detour” by Sacha Archer

Hello! How’s your Saturday night going? In need of a pick-me-up? Or Inspiration? Are you three drinks in and considering becoming a philosopher? Good- a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to any/all of these questions means it’s time for you to read our latest Issue 21 teaser!

This is a conceptual piece by Canadian writer Sacha Archer. Sacha has received the P.K. Page Irwin Prize for his poetry and visual art in 2008, and in 2010 he participated in the Elise Partridge Mentor Program. You can check out other work by him in our past issues, as well as in filling Station, ACTA Victoriana, h&, illiterature, and Experiment-O. He has also published two chapbooks- Dishwashing Event, Part One: Tianjin, China (no press, 2016) and Dishwashing Event, Part Two: Ontario (Puddles of Sky Press, 2016). And you should be on the lookout for his forthcoming chapbooks- Acceleration of the Arbitrary (Grey Borders) and Detour [D-1] (Spacecraft Press).

Detour is a conceptual translation of the Dao De Jing. ‘Dao,’ in the context of the Dao De Jing, is traditionally translated as the ‘Way’. This can be understood as a path. With Detour, I sent the text of the Dao De Jing on a detour, passing it through a number of automatic internet translators. Each section, passed back and forth and through the translators, was translated (altered, progressively lost and/or found) 81 times (81 being an auspicious number, and also the number of sections in the text). While the resultant text is a very different animal than the original, I can’t help but feel there is a fidelity of intent embedded in it.


In this world, but I hope that you will have to be certificate. The world should not be a guide, use this tool will not be able to guess what it is not possible. *

* If you have found any weight * , are willing to neglect to a period of similar to change his pants, convened the density in determining products, all suppliers must withdraw. *

* In the Middle East, mentally handicapped and fear, and social trends. * Fixed flights and other currencies, or from his trousers and Peace Committee, must be paid before his disciples.


Parker died, does not recognize the government officials forklift. Protection of the king of sports. The aircraft did not know in the world, she, her husband, in this case, the knowledge of the Committee, for example, the banks of the river signal.

“Little Desert Flower” by Michael Lee Johnson

Good evening! Here’s your regularly scheduled Thursday post: a teaser for next week’s launch! Just a reminder that we launch Issue 21 next week at Shelf Life–we’re looking forward to seeing you there at 7pm! Here’s a short poem by Michael Lee Johnson to get you in the mood for our upcoming readings!

Little Desert Flower 

Out of this poem

grows a little desert flower.

it is blue sorrow

it waits for your return.

You escape so you must from me

refuge, folded, wrapped in cool spring rain leaves-

avoiding July, August heat.

South wind hellfire burns memories within you,

branded I tattoo you, leave my mark,

in rose barren fields fueled with burned and desert stubble.

Yet I wait here, a loyal believer throat raw in thirst.

I wrest thunder gods gathering ritual-prayer rain.

It is lonely here grit, tears rub my eyes without relief.

Yet I catch myself loafing away in the wind waiting fate

to whisper those tiny messages

writer of this storm welded wings,

I go unnoticed but the burned eyes of red-tailed hawk

pinch of hope, sheltered by the doves.

I tip a toast to quench your thirst,

one shot of Tequila my little, purple, desert flower.

“Prep” & “Poem Left in the Car” by Thomas Pescatore

Good morning! We’re taking today as part of the long weekend and we hope you are too. But if you are working or schooling or doing other responsible adulting today then you should take a break (or start your day) with our latest Issue 21 teaser! And if you are extending your break, then you have all the time of the day to read these poems!

These two poems are by Thomas Pescatore, who you can sometimes see wandering along the Walt Whitman bridge or down the sidewalks of Philadelphia’s old Skid Row (unless you’re in Calgary and nowhere near these places that we assume are in the USA, then you can’t find him at all!). Although, if you are in his area, he might have left a poem or two behind to mark his trail. He maintains a poetry blog at:


metal hooks on set tracks
cross hatched beige dividers

wipe your body clean
and air dry

these socks prevent blood clots

they’re white
and the room is cold

it’s time to go

my ass is out and the gown in gray

purple marker masks my knee

the IV is in
blood has dripped

it’ll be an hour that becomes six months

once I sit down
I am no longer mine
I am the white walls
the anesthetic
the knife

induced sleep.


The poem left in the car

like a neon scarecrow
hanging on a road closed sign,

opposite a pond,
a flock of geese descend,

the road’s cracked rocks and gristle,

the pond stagnant and low,

in number the geese land silent splash in the sun

scarecrow hangs his head and groans.


“In Summer Bathtubs: acrylic corner bathtub in 1970’s-constructed Brentwood home, Calgary” by Emily Calder

Hello! We hope your long weekend is going well– we’re only half way through! This teaser is from Emily Calder, a U of C student whose work appeared in our Issue 20 and is also upcoming in Issue 21! This piece accompanies her prose piece that will be unveiled in our next issue, so you should come to our launch party on April 27 at Shelf Life books if you want to read more!

In Summer Bathtubs: acrylic corner bathtub in 1970’s-constructed Brentwood home, Calgary

Clyde the house spider, always an aficionado of human language, listened curiously to Lil’s phone conversation. He sat on the rim of the corner tub, in the ensuite off the master bedroom. He could see Lil, in her bathrobe and socks, pacing the bedroom floor.

His English spotty, Clyde worked out that Lil had gone out on a date the previous evening, and it had not gone well. The spider knew from previous reconnaissance that the woman was a widow.

“I suffer from crippling self-awareness,” came the only line that Clyde could comprehend completely, from beginning to end. If Clyde could write he would have written it down. A lovely, self-contained thought. His first full sentence in a second language.

Clyde often wished that spiders had history. If he could write books, he would have something to pass on to his offspring. But of course, who knew which of those passersby in the garden or the boiler room really were his offspring? An aspect of arachnid existence that gave all spiders a great sense of community, an understanding of working for something greater than themselves.

Lil’s eyes landed on Clyde and she started, stopping his reverie. Clyde braced himself. He scuttled away, but in an unfortunate direction. Lil’s disgusted face, and then nothing but the immensity of a bunched up wad of toilet paper, were the last things Clyde saw before he died.