Editor Feature: Allie McFarland

Hello hello! We know we did an Editor Feature last Thursday, but it’s just that time of the semester and the week ran away from us before we could do our regularly scheduled interview. If you were really looking forward to the interview, we’re sorry, and we’ll get our ducks in a row for the next interview week. (You weren’t really waiting for an interview, were you? Shouldn’t you be writing an essay or something? We know that’s what we’re busy doing). Anyway, here’s a poem from Allie, our managing editor (it’s short enough that you can take a break from your essay to read).


The world’s gotten too thick.

Our horizon stutters

shingled carmine, coquelicot.

Spun ink stains, tendrils

That accentuate, perpetuate, pervade.

A sense of cinnamon, cardamom,

crushed poppy petals

And just a dash of cloves.

Cirrus strands as spiders webs

stretch thin between buildings.

Strands of hair stick

to lips cracked into crevasses up cheekbones.

And then the clouds shift.

Pillars to mark an edge.


“Lyra I” and “Lyra II” Tasnuva Hayden

If you’re a student, you’re probably drowning in essays or mid-terms right about now (we know we are!) so we recommend taking a three minute break to read this week’s snippet. Here’s your weekly dose of Issue 20 by Tasnuva Hayden, a Calgary-based writer!

Lyra I

binary stars collapse eclipses

vibration strings discrepancy in Mercury’s orbit—

flawed Newton’s gravitation

Arctic mechanics and quantum winds

codify meta-energy mathematics

dead-tissue harmonics permeate every life form—

with the exception of Ginko Biloba

evolved from the Archeon of the Precambrian

four thousand million years past

a fractioned second past north, orchid petals gravitate

coughs up scant bearings

spins the compass needle to post-modern mass extinction

narwhals logarithmic-spiral towards the ocean floor

jaws heavy with decaying flesh

above the pressure of the frozen meniscus

radiant dragon tears evaporate past Vega

Lyra II

Lyra II.png

Editor Feature: Kirsten Cordingley

Hello! Just a quick reminder that tomorrow is the deadline for all submissions for Issue 21! Okay, now that that’s out of the way we can move on to our Editor Feature! This week we’re featuring Kirsten Cordingley, our Copy Editor. She is currently working on her BA in English (so not surprisingly, reading a good book is one of her favourite pastimes). Here are two poems by Kirsten!


A decrepit spine

of aging paper,

filled with lines

of squirming eels

along white skin

and yellow curves,

eating hors d’oeuvres

of flowery words.

Towering bark

holds their cases

and orders them by

their names and faces,

so reaching fingers

and curious eyes

can find their insight in

quotes and rhymes.




Little mugs with coffee and wasted crumbs,

Slow lilt of music and the echoing hum

Of soliloquies aimed outwards

Into the spicy space of caffeine fumes,

And burning toast with little room

To move our legs or fingertips,

But closely knit and brightly lit,

We spend our days with coffee cakes,

Creating symposiums in the air,

And we decorate with enticing stares,

Despite the bitterness on our tongues,

We stay to hide amongst the sugar lumps,

And sweet honey drops that stick to our elbows

That keep us there amidst the constant hellos.

“On Returning” Michael Klenda

Once again we find ourselves at the beginning of a new week, which means we have a snippet from Issue 20 to help get you through your day! Also, a quick reminder that the deadline for submissions for Issue 21 is this Friday, March 17 (so if you want to see your work in our print magazine or featured on our blog– like Michael Klenda–you should probably send it to us).

On Returning

The city is as you left it:

as you fly above it, and then

drive through it, your suitcase

unpacks itself along the streets,

beside the river, down alleyways

between cafes and backyards.

What if today was that day long ago

when we gathered out in the grass

and drank iced champagne straight

from the bottle? This is the same sun,

the same songs repeated

from the trees; the children

might be your children now,

or maybe you’ve just been born.

Interview With Ore A!

Hello! For our second interview Allie got together with Oreoluwa Arowobusoye (Ore A), a contributor in Issue 20 and undergraduate student at the University of Calgary where she studies Computer Science.

Allie: So Comp Sci? That’s an unexpected choice for a writer.

Ore A: Yeah, I think I might’ve been stockholmed into it. Actually, not really—I hated the first year, but it’s alright now. And my whole family is pretty science-y—my Mom is a nurse and my Dad is an engineer.

Allie: Does your degree bleed into your writing at all? Do you write science fiction?

Ore A: Not really. I wrote one story about a boy who thinks the new girl in school is an alien princess from Neptune, but she could also just be a foster child trying to invent a new world for herself. But other than that, my writing is usually more magic realist—a world where magic happens and everyone takes it in stride.

Allie: So, what are you working on now?

Ore A: It’s for my long manuscript class and it’s magic realist, and set in Quebec, but not real Quebec. In this world gyres appear randomly and can suck up whole houses and that’s just part of normal life. The story follows some girls who attend a Catholic school and the school is in the process of being sucked into a gyre. I planned for one of the girls to fall into it, but I’m eighty pages in and that hasn’t happened yet, so we’ll see.

Allie: That sounds interesting—but quite different from the piece that appeared in Issue 20.

Ore A: Yeah, it is. I have a confession—the story from Issue 20 is old. I wrote it in my first creative writing class, ENGL 366, two years ago, and my professor at the time said “no genre fiction.” I was new and scared—what counts as genre fiction? Isn’t everything in some genre? I think what she meant was no clichés—we were supposed to write a story we hadn’t read before, not a horror story that hits every plot point for tension or a fantasy novel with the kid who goes to save the world. And that makes sense—I’m trying to write stories that are new, that make people say “that’s weird, but interesting.” But when I wrote this story I was a little scared to write magic realism for the class because of the genre rule.

Allie: What do you read that makes you say “that’s weird, but interesting?”

Ore A: Neil Gaiman is one of my favorites—I love American Gods. But he’s one of the most mainstream authors I like. Some of my favorite writing comes from short story anthologies, like Bone Swans by C. S. E. Cooney and Meet me in the Moon Room by Ray Vukcevich.

Allie: What draws you to short stories?

Ore A: They’re a good length. They can have a nice and ambiguous ending and they tell the story. I have so many stories in my head, it’s like the whole thing just pops into my head ready to go and the problem is having the time to write them down. I don’t get writer’s block—there’s always a story. It’ll be nice to get back to my short stories after this long manuscript class is done.

Allie: Do you incorporate any theory into your stories?

Ore A: Well, as I’ve never taken a theory class I don’t have the background for explicit theory, but once in a while I’ll reread one of my stories and think “I guess that’s theory..?” For me the work is more about itself—but sometimes the characters in my stories are pieces of people I know—and not even intentionally! I was telling my friend about my piano teacher, and she’s read my recent work and she says “your piano teacher sounds a lot like Madame,” the French teacher at the Catholic school. I didn’t even realise until she pointed it out, but there it was.

Allie: Last question. What’s one story or character you want to write?

Ore A: I have so many stories I want to write! I jot down my ideas for them—one time I had probably 15 stories outlined but then I lost the journal. I’m a disorganised person. But I guess, thinking about the characters that are like people I know, I want to write about my family. Like my Mom—she’s a Pilates and headband wearing Mom. And my sister—we’re really close, but she’d probably be mad if I wrote her.

Allie: Thanks for talking to us here at Nōd Magazine!

Ore A: Thank you!

“Birthmarks” Gordon Brown

Hello! Once again, we wish you a happy Monday and hope your week has started with a bang (a good bang, nothing too stressful or unexpected). And because we don’t want you to suffer anything unexpected, here is our regular Monday snippet of Issue 20! “Birthmarks” by Gordon Brown closed off our issue. We hope you enjoy 🙂


Mama drank poison on a black, moonless night. She had forgot to turn the stove off before she died, and the kitchen curtains had caught on fire. The noise and the light woke up the rooster, and he crowed three or four times before the smoke choked him dead. Papa cried when they put Mama in the ground. He always cried after he hit Mama, but now he only cried.

But this had happened before I was born.

I remember it only because Mama remembers it. I was in Mama’s belly when she drank poison. I saw only the things that Mama could see. Watched them through her eyes. I could hear Papa crying from the other side of the coffin lid. Could hear the dirt falling down on us.

And afterwards – for a long time – we couldn’t hear anything.

For a long, long time.

The box wood was cheap planking. It only kept the beetles out for six days, maybe seven. They started with Mama’s eyes, but it was alright, because there was nothing to see anyway. Before long, there was no more box and no more dirt. The beetles had gotten to Mama’s heart. To her old heart. The one made out of meat that went thump-th-thump. They chewed it away, and so now there was nothing to weigh Mama down. And then there was no more box and more dirt. There was only the road.

And we were on the road for a long time too.

There was the forest on this side and the forest on that side, but it was all so wide and empty. Mama walked down the road for a long time. She saw people sometimes, far ahead. She called after them, but they didn’t hear her or they did not wait. Mama ran to catch up to them, but whenever she did, they were far away again.

By now, Mama’s belly was swollen up large. When it was time, she found a banana tree by the road and brought me out. I had not seen through any eyes except Mama’s, and I was so scared. I cried and cried and cried for the first few hours. And for a whole year, I held on to Mama and wouldn’t let go.

I rode on Mama’s back in a sling she made from her shirt. All year, I stayed small. Mama said I would be a baby forever, and she sang me songs as she walked along. From Mama’s songs, I learned how to talk. Mama told me what I liked, and what I did not. That I liked all the things she had liked when she was just a little girl. Bananas were good, and so was bubblegum. And gin tasted good, but only after three glasses. And that I was frightened of thunder and of large dogs, but that I was never afraid of the water. But I should never fall in love with a fisherman, even if he had cream-colored shoes and his own canoe and bright and perfect teeth.

This, I was told, was the only way I was different from Mama.

I learned to walk while Mama slept.

In the early mornings, I would slip out of her embrace and crawl away from the place by the road where we slept. It was always the same place, beneath the same banana tree where I was born. No matter how far Mama walked, she always rested here, telling me how fortunate it was that we had found another place to stop.

I pushed myself up to my feet, swaying as I stumbled over the rich, red earth and up onto the empty road. On the other side, I could see the red flowers on the Tamarind trees, and tall, sweet-smelling grass that grew up by the river. And there was a bird there. Immense and white. And he walked like me, stumbling through the water lilies on his long sun-colored legs.

Mama would wake and find me missing. She would sweep me up in her arms and hold me tight to her, and ask how I managed to get away. Did I not know how worried she was? How angry she was? How relieved she was?

I must promise, she explained to me. I must promise that I will never wander away from her like that. I must promise that I will respect her and obey her. I must promise that I will always be her baby.

And so I lied.

Mama walked far in the days that followed. Further than she ever had before, continuing long after the sun had fallen behind the tamarind trees and the road was unlit. And exhausted, she would collapse beneath the same banana tree that she had the day before.

She slept a long time that day, and I got away again.

Up, and over the road. Tumbling down through the slick grass on the far side, caking red mud onto the soles of my feet, the palms of my hands. I pushed my way through the reeds, letting the water rise up to my ankles, my knees, my waist, my neck. And when I thought that I would slip away, the great, white bird came striding through the water, scooping me up from the sling that Mama had carried me in, that I wore now as my clothes.

The great, white bird flapped his wings hard, sending ripples across the still water. He kept the sling clenched tight in his long, straight beak, and as we crested the trees, I looked down and saw Mama, still sleeping under the trees.

We climbed higher and higher, and I could see the road below – a great circle in the center of a forest that stretched on and on in every direction. And even that tumbled away as we climbed higher and higher, up into the darkness.

We climbed for days, for weeks, for months. We flew so long that I forgot how to talk, how to walk. I forgot the name that Mama had given to me. And there was light again.

When I was born alive, my mother was not Mama. She had hair the same color as the bird’s beak, and my father was not the man who had hit Mama. And I was not the same me.

When I learned to talk again, I told Mother about the big, white bird and about Mama by the road. My mother said that my story hurt her, and asked me where I had heard it, or who would have told me to say such a thing. She said that she was my mother, and that I had come from her, and that I was hers and hers alone.

But I had red stains on my feet. Blotches from where the red road dirt and red river mud had caked and dried.

Mother says that they are only birthmarks.

Lots of people have them.

Editor Feature: Genista Kippin!

Genista Kippin is one of our contributing editors and is currently pursuing her undergraduate degree in English. She recently wrote this feature as a response to reading Annie Dillard’s personal essay “Living Like Weasels,” with a particular consideration for human distance from nature.

A rabbit is jumpy: who knows what he thinks. He flits around our campus like it is his, although, I suppose, it actually is his and we simply placed our campus atop it. I, the frightened and slightly shrieking woman, am occupying his space, which is a far greater infringement onto him than his hoping on the campus grass could ever truly be to me. I, along with my blocky buildings and my cold concrete slabs and my asphalt pathways eerily cleared of any debris, have infiltrated and taken over his rightful space, and I am continuing to do so. No wonder the rabbit is jumpy.

Once, I was speaking to a friend that I bumped into along a particular path that crosses a large enough green space to be called nature, if of course you are not used to nature being the way nature naturally is. A rabbit began to hop, hop, hop across that grassy greenness towards where we were stopped talking. In that moment, standing there while he hopped at me, I felt stuck. He should have felt stuck, hopping as he was in the measly green space comprising all that was left of where the rabbits used to reign, between towering cement blocks and glistening glass walls. Yet, it was I who stopped listening to the friend across from me, explaining something, likely something mundane, about his day, once I’d focused upon the jumpy rabbit approaching with my heart beating at the same rate as his hopping. It was I who perceived the rabbit as a predator, when the rabbit himself had every business perceiving an approaching wolf or coyote or, in fact, me.

Suddenly I wasn’t so stuck. My legs, almost on their own, sprung into action, and propelled me down the path beside the green space and towards my building. When I got inside, my heart was thumping with the sense of a near miss, although I am not sure what I feared that rabbit would do to me. I turned and looked across the green space, through a small window in the door, and saw the place where the path, the path I has just thundered down, curved gently around to the one side, and where both my friend and the rabbit stood frozen staring back at me, both looking rather confused. With the door securely latched, I pulled out my cell phone and typed: Sorry, had to run! A rabbit is jumpy… who knows what he thinks!

Christopher Savage- Artist

Good morning! It’s the start of another week, and that means it’s time for another snippet from Issue 20! We’re mixing it up this time with one of our visual contributions (yes, we do accept visual submissions as well as prose and poetry).

Christopher Savage is an artist and Master’s student at the University of Calgary. Here’s some of his work!


Interview with Paul Meunier

Hello all! I know we promised to launch the interviews last Thursday, but hey, we’re new to this and it was reading week so we may or may not have misplaced the days of the week. Anyway, we’re back on track and very excited to launch the first of our bi-weekly contributor and grad student interviews! Our first interviewee is Paul Meunier, a Master’s student at the University of Calgary and a contributor in Issue 20. Paul is a born-and-raised Calgarian who holds a degree in photography from ACAD, and a degree in English from U of C. We sat down to chat with him about his poem series “community” and how his style of poetry relates to the conceptual poetry movement. On a more personal level, Paul wishes to thank his supportive husband, Matthew, for always picking up the pieces when Paul’s up late working on a poem, conference proposal, or essay. Where would us writers be without our loved ones cheering us on?

And now, to jump right into the interview:

Paul: “community”—small ‘c’—is a series of new poems, taken from a style of deconstructed anagrams I’ve been playing with for a couple years. “community” is a negotiation of the disappearance of queer establishments in Calgary, but not necessarily from a positive or negative angle. It’s about relationship, my own relationship with Calgary’s queer community. This year we celebrated the largest gay pride parade in the history of our city, yet all these bars, pubs, and gathering places for queer people keep opening, then closing. It’s an interesting symptom of the evolving needs in our queer community.

Allie: Is there a disconnect between the people and these places?

Paul: It’s a time of change. These places were quite formative for me—I visited these establishments during my formative years when I came out—but the community and cultural needs are adapting. People need gathering spaces/places for different reasons, and so I’m exploring my own personal relationship with this history.

Allie: How do you reflect this, not tension, but interaction in your poems?

Paul: in “community” I’ve used anagrams composed of letters in the names of ten bars and pubs—places that I used to go to—that have since shut down. And I used the letters from all these names to create a collective alphabet, which then forms the vocabulary for very specific, place-based memories I had in each establishment. For example, “Victoria’s” used to be a restaurant on 17th Avenue and 2nd Street SW, and I write of ice cream and dining. In “Metro Boyztown” I imply leaning over a bar counter that’s sticky from all the overfilled drinks. Then as each place disappears, the letters from its name disappear with it, and the available vocabulary for the next poem is reduced. The poems gradually erase themselves, and as each establishment’s name is removed and the poetic language disappears, the tenth poem, “community,” is all but erased. I think this constraint works really well to showcase my sense of loss, without creating a series of poems that might otherwise come off aggressive.

Allie: Aggressive?

Paul: Yeah, conceptual poetry can sometimes be heavy-handed, when the constraint becomes more important than the subject matter. Sometimes conceptual poets can overstep their bounds, especially when appropriating the experiences or stories of communities who’ve been historically marginalized. In my own writing, I hope I can pay tribute to the voice of a community I relate with, and seek to represent. I want my work to be accessible to the queer community, and to reflect our experiences in a way that a removed, academic approach might otherwise feel distant from. That said, I write about a lot of other things besides the queer community, but that’s what this current series is focused on. For “community” I really focused on my own personal experience and located myself in the vanished establishments, but these identity politics are not my only lens. I’m trying to explore how this perspective relates to the nature of constraint-based conceptual poetry, but I can—and even like to!—dabble in other forms and genres.

Allie: Why is your subject position so central to your conceptual poetry, though not necessarily as much to other forms?

Paul: It’s my way of addressing the current accusations that conceptual poetry has faced, as a movement. Many writers have appropriated other voices in the name of conceptual work—and this often happens with “found poetry” being recontextualised inappropriately. I want to solidly place myself exactly where I am, give voice to myself and my experiences, and maybe reach other people around me who feel similar. One of the most unexpected moments for me was during Nōd’s Issue 20 launch. I read “community” there—as well as “Hate Speech” which I wrote just days before the launch—and afterwards someone came up to me and said they too had been mourning the loss of all these establishments, and that they connected with the performance. This person was pleased to hear poetry that called attention to the loss of all these establishments, and that was an emotional moment for me. I want to bring community into poetry, and the best way for me to do that is to write for myself, and not solely for the sake of experimentation.

Allie: You’ve mentioned your poem “Hate Speech,” how does that poem compare stylistically to “community”?

Paul: “community” reflects my constraint-based practices, and my visual background a lot more than “Hate Speech.” In “community,” the vanishing effect is most evident when you see the poems on the page and see how the letters fade, which I find is a great marriage of form and content. “Hate Speech” is a lyric poem. There are no constraints, though I couldn’t help but try to write with an attention to phonemes. This poem was created after two incidents: a protest that I heard about on U of C campus campus where anti-gay pamphlets were handed out to the public, and when white supremacy stickers appeared on the Lions Park c-train station after the American election. In preparation for Nōd’s Issue 20 launch, it seemed appropriate to write something new, using a rhythm that compels the content to be read aloud. This type of performativity in my work is new to me—I’ve spent so much of my writing working on the lines and visual layout on the page. My focus on musicality in “Hate Speech” is different than previous work, but also kind of similar because it emulates how form and content play off one other.

Allie: Thank you for sharing your thoughts on your work and your writerly approach with us!

Paul: Thank you for having me!

“Phoenix” E. V. Bell

Happy Monday! This week’s snippet from Issue 20 is “Phoenix” by E. V. Bell, an American poet living and teaching in Prague.


Do you think a phoenix knows

it will rise from its ashes?

Or do you think its horror grows

at the sight of burning matches.