Last things


If she could take a pill end her life now
she would does she really need another
mediocre BLT?
last thing she tasted that surprised her Nick Liu’s
Pumpkin Dumplings with Brown Butter Soy and
White Rabbit Candy Glaze (with Truffle
Shavings) at DaiLo she couldn’t afford these
delicacies herself most everything she has
has been gifted her she’s always said she
makes poverty look good

Last thing she cared about? her friend
mother deteriorating sister who makes any
situation worse distance that allows for any
relationship at all family how did things
become so fuck this city wants to be big in
the worse way she’s learned to go without
well enough most days she doesn’t think
about it not not until recently she doesn’t
see how anything
works she knows like you she’s not the
only one her latest refrain “she’s not
happy” followed
by “so what?” as if that fucking matters things never

did matter all that much okay one thing
did actually now come to think of it the
only thing that ever did Place you know
place her place a place anyplace where
she could be funny she’s always known
her place now no place now only
things neatly tucked in place
damn she made things look good
damn I loved her  for that if
nothing else


How did he not know she was beautiful?

This poem is from Kirby’s upcoming full­ length debut, This Is Where I Get Off, Permanent Sleep  Press, April 2019.

KIRBY’s recent chapbook, She’s Having A Doris Day has sold over 400 copies and is now  available as an AudioBook at bandcamp. Their full­ length debut This Is Where I Get Off is out Spring 2019 from Permanent Sleep Press. Kirby is the owner and publisher of knife | fork | book  www.jeffkirby.ca  


An interview with Isabella Wang

Isabella Wang's debut poetry chapbook is forthcoming with Baseline Press in 2019. At 18, she is a two-time finalist and the youngest writer shortlisted for The New Quarterly’s Edna Staebler Essay Contest. Her poetry has appeared in Room Magazine, The /tEmz/ Review, Train JournalCanthius, Plenitude, and Looseleaf Magazine, and she holds a Pushcart Prize nomination for poetry. Her essays are published in carte blanche, Invisible Blog, and The New Quarterly. She is studying English and World Literature at SFU, and serving as the Youth Advocate for the Federation of B.C. Writers. As well, she is working with Books on the Radio, co-ordinating the bi-monthly Dead Poets Reading Series, and interning at Room Magazine.

How did you begin writing, and what keeps you going?

My grade three teacher encouraged us to write stories that she would then help us bind into booklets, and we would decorate the covers with our bios on the back. There is something about that hands-on process, that connection, which drew me to writing at an early age. It’s somewhat nostalgic for me. Even to this day, when I write, I’m always writing towards a feeling.

I haven’t always been writing, though. I struggled with immensely, with English being my second language. There would be long periods of time where I would straight out refuse to write anything at all, even hand in assignments for school, because I was so frustrated and well, ashamed too. I’ve tried many things however— piano, ballet, art, painting, ceramics— but in the end, it all traced back to writing again.

As for what keeps me going: COMMUNITY, COMMUNITY, hands down, COMMUNITY. We all go through hard times, and when we do, it’s the community— our friends, mentors, our collective voices that keep us grounded. It’s what anchors us. Go to events, engage with other writers, read their work and read widely, and reach out. I have friends across Vancouver, Toronto, and Waterloo, and I don’t know where I’d be without them.

You are currently a student at Simon Fraser University. Are you finding any difference in how you approach writing now that you’re in university?

I am loving university. Most of the time, I can barely keep my head afloat with four courses, four part-time jobs and volunteering gigs, but it’s all work that I enjoy doing and I wouldn’t have it any other way around.

I’m about to declare a double major in English and World Lit, and a minor in First Nations studies. That’s a lot of academic writing and reading. I am pursuing creative writing on the side— free lance work and readings take up around 20 hours of my week, and my part-time job at Room Magazine is another 20 hours. Combine everything, and I’m doing over 70 hours of writing per week. So, I’ve grown to appreciate this balance between academic and creative writing. Otherwise, I’d burn out way too quickly. That said, I definitely see the two as interconnected. University has introduced me to lots of ideas that have influenced my creative work. Likewise, with creative writing, I’ve become accustomed to this constant process of planning, drafting, revising, revising, revising, crying, and revising, which has been helpful when approaching academic papers for the first time. Often, they allow for a creative approach, and I also find that the situating of the self in an argument— your position, your stance, why this work matters to you—is very much like creative nonfiction.

It’s a nice environment, and I’m writing for the English department blog about my experiences as a first year English student. My professors have been extremely supportive and receptive. I have this one prof, Steve Collis, who’s so awesome (he has a poem published in Train Journal too). He let me take a creative approach to the assignments I started a lyric, creative non-fiction essay in his class, as well as a 120-paged long poem and a series of prose poems concerning the waterways and our global ecosystem and they’ve carried into creative projects I’ll be working on for the next while. That’s been one of my favourite university experiences so far. I also have another prof who brings her corgi in every Tuesday. So I’d go to office hours to pet her dog and we’d talk about writing.

What poets have influenced the ways in which you write?

Oh no! Too many! It won’t be fair to name some and leave others out, with the limited space that I have. However, I’m sure they all know. If I’ve gone up to you before and screamed I LOVE YOU in your face and told you how much I love your work, well then, that’s pretty clear, isn’t it?

How important has mentorship been to your work? Is there anyone who specifically assisted your development as a writer?

We all need guidance, for someone to show us the way while being mindful of our work. This is especially true for young and emerging writers who are just starting out in their field. From experience, I can say that a little nudge in the right direction goes a long way.

I have so many mentors:

My high school teachers, for one. They’ve taught me so much, beyond the courses themselves, about life, and how to be a good person. More importantly, they always made time for me, the melt downs, tears, and panic attacks, and there had been lots of those. They are my heroes.

In terms of creative writing, it all started with the poetry workshops I took with mentors, Evelyn Lau, Fiona Tinwei Lam, and Rob Taylor back in September, 2017, which led to my first reading event in December, and that’s when I started attending more events and connecting to local writers.

I’m also lucky to have worked with some incredible editors, in particular, Susan Scott from The New Quarterly and Jen Ferguson from carte blanche. Both have been so supportive, so compassionate, and generous with their words and feedback. I’ve also had the pleasure of working with The/tEmz/Review Plenitude, and Room Magazine and again, I’m grateful for they do an incredible job at supporting their writers.

Lastly, my friends. Every single one of them, and the list keeps growing.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently editing my first poetry chapbook, which is coming out with Baseline Press this fall. I’m also working towards my first collection of poetry and a book of creative nonfiction essays, though I’ve kept this to myself and never told anyone before. I’m taking my time you can’t rush art, ever. However, it’s a plausible goal to have in mind, so that I’m always subconsciously thinking about writing and that process. They both touch on similar themes that occupy me, that overlap and intertwine throughout individual poems and each essay. However, I have a clearer sense of the content and certain issues that I want address with the essays, whereas with poetry, I’m mostly writing towards a feeling.

As for individual works, I’m about to revise an old poem that I’ve stored away for over a year now. I’m getting two essays ready for publication, and I’m in the early stages of drafting three new essays, where I’m both excited and terrified to enter another, more recent chapter of my life that I’ve been holding off with writing.

Can you name a poet you think should be receiving more attention?

Angela Wright. She jokes about not being a big deal, but she is to me. I think she’s the coolest person ever and the most amazing friend. I will keep on telling her how much I love her poetry, and if I do it enough, it will eventually sink in for her.


Train : a journal of prose poems

Issue #3 : Simon Brown Carlie Blume Conyer Clayton Ariel Dawn Kate Feld Mike Ferguson M.W. Jaeggle Aaron Kreuter Amy LeBlanc John Luna Ian Martin rob mclennan Pearl Pirie Adam Strauss Erin Emily Ann Vance

A limited amount of copies will be available for free at the following locations:
Open Books: A Poem Emporium (Seattle WA), Berl's Brooklyn Poetry Shop (Brooklyn NY), knife| fork | book (Toronto ON) and Passages Bookshop (Portland OR).

Includes shipping
Four-issue subscriptions are also available:

Includes shipping
Simon Brown (1979) is a self-taught poet and interdisciplinary artist from the traditional territory of the Passamaquoddy nation (southwestern New Brunswick) currently based in rural Québec. His French and English texts have been presented in collaborative artworks, performances, collections and artist books, and in magazines such as Lemon Hound, Estuaire, Vallum, Poetry Is Dead, Watts, and The Blasted Tree. As a translator, he has adapted texts by Erin Robinsong, Angela Carr, Danielle LaFrance and Jacob Wren, among others. Recent collections include Grande poussière (with Maude Pilon, squint press, Montréal, 2017) and Outre-flaques (Vanloo, Marseille, 2018).

Carlie Blume is an emerging writer of fiction and poetry.  Her writing centres around deconstructing myths about sexuality, motherhood, and mental health. Her work has been featured in The Maynard, Loose Lips and Pulp Mag. She lives in Surrey and is currently working on her first collection of poetry, as well as a novel.

Conyer Clayton is an Ottawa based artist who aims to live with compassion, gratitude, and awe. Her most recent chapbooks are: Undergrowth (bird, buried press), Mitosis (In/Words Magazine and Press), and For the Birds. For the Humans. (battleaxe press). She released a collaborative album with Nathanael Larochette, If the river stood still, in August 2018. Her work appears in ARC, Prairie Fire, The Fiddlehead, The Maynard, Puddles of Sky Press, and others. She won Arc's 2017 Diana Brebner Prize, and writes reviews for Canthius. Her debut full length collection of poetry is forthcoming.

Ariel Dawn lives in Victoria, British Columbia. She spends her time writing, reading, and studying Tarot. Recent work appears in canthius, (parenthetical), Foxhole, Room, and is forthcoming in A Furious Hope anthology.

Kate Feld writes essays, poetry, short fiction and work that sits between forms. Her writing has appeared in journals and anthologies including Hotel, The Stinging Fly and The Letters Page.

Mike Ferguson is an American permanently resident in the UK and widely published in online magazines. His most recent print collection is the sonnets chapbook Precarious Real [Maquette Press, 2016] and he edited with Rupert Loydell the music poems anthology Yesterday’s Music Today [Knives Forks and Spoons Press, 2015]. A retired English teacher, he co-authored the education text Writing Workshops [Cambridge University Press, 2015].

M.W. Jaeggle is a poet from Vancouver, currently living in Montreal. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Dalhousie Review, CV2, Existere, in the anthology Refugium: Poems for the Pacific, and elsewhere. He was longlisted for the 2018 CBC Poetry Prize.

Aaron Kreuter is the author of the poetry book Arguments for Lawn Chairs (Guernica Editions, 2016), and the short story collection You and Me, Belonging (Tightrope Books, 2018). I have had my work appear in journals and magazines such as The Puritan, Grain, Arc, Poetry is Dead, The Temz Review, and other places.

Amy LeBlanc holds a BA (Hons) in English Literature and creative writing from the University of Calgary. She is currently non-fiction editor at filling Station magazine. Her work has appeared, or is scheduled to appear in Room, Prairie Fire, Contemporary Verse 2, and EVENT among others. Amy won the 2018 BrainStorm Poetry Contest for her poem 'Swell'. She is the author of two chapbooks, most recently Ladybird, Ladybird published with Anstruther Press in August 2018.

John Luna: I am a dual Canadian-American citizen born of Mexican + American expatriates. Besides writing, my practice is as a visual artist whose background includes painting, sculpture and installation, and a teacher working in the areas of art, design and art history. I currently reside on an island off of the west coast of N. America. Previous publication of written work in art criticism and poetry has appeared in Ditch, Canadian Art, Border Crossings, Canyon, Cordite, and Matrix, among others. A first collection of poems, Listing (Decoupage Publishing, 2015) was released through a small independent press with the help of a crowdfunding campaign. A second book-length manuscript was recently (2017) shortlisted for the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry.

Ian Martin is nobody's mom. Ian's work has appeared recently in where is the river, Bad Nudes, Plenitude Magazine, and Pretty Owl Poetry. Ian has published 4 chapbooks, most recently PLACES TO HIDE (Coven Editions, 2018) and YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO KEEP THIS UP FOREVER (AngelHousePress, 2018). When he's not writing, Ian develops small games and complains online. [http://ian-martin.net]

rob mclennan currently lives in Ottawa, where he is home full-time with the two wee girls he shares with Christine McNair. The author of more than thirty trade books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, his most recent titles include the poetry collections How the alphabet was made (Spuyten Duyvil, 2018) and the forthcoming Household items (Salmon Poetry, 2019) and A halt, which is empty (Mansfield Press, 2019). He spent the 2007-8 academic year in Edmonton as writer-in-residence at the University of Alberta, and regularly posts reviews, essays, interviews and other notices at robmclennan.blogspot.com

Pearl Pirie writes in Quebec's countryside. She has 3 trade collections, most recently, the pet radish, shrunken from Book*hug. http://www.pearlpirie.com

Adam Strauss lives in Louisville, KY.  He is the author of one full-length collection: For Days (BlazeVox). Most recently, poems of his appear in Fence, Interim, The Tiny, and the Brooklyn Rail.

Erin Emily Ann Vance’s work is forthcoming in Coffin Bell Journal, Augur, Post Ghost Press, and Bad Nudes. She is a contributing reader and writer for Awkward Mermaid Literary Magazine. A 2017 recipient of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts Young Artist Prize and a 2018 Finalist for the Alberta Magazine Awards in Fiction, she completed her MA in Creative Writing in August 2018, and will complete an MA in Folklore in 2020. Erin's debut novel, Advice for Amateur Beekeepers and Taxidermists will be published by Stonehouse Publishing in 2019.



Amy LeBlanc

They say she lifted the calf from the bed
like a coil of rope, unspun and curling
with unsung sea salt through the sides of a boat.
He did not cry bubbles like a spool of thread.
instead, the water wept from his back,
the same shade of grey as a smoke stack in winter.

They say she held him for sixteen months,
she’d carried him over a year.
She keened underwater where no one could hear
the slaughter of her marrow or the ticking of a clock.
The cascading waves could not take him away.
to her, he weighed no more than a shell.

They say her cartilage ached from her passion play,
the labor of days spent crawling through water.
When her swollen body refused to sleep,
she packed his things and swam for weeks.

Amy LeBlanc holds a BA (Hons) in English Literature and creative writing from the University of Calgary. She is currently non-fiction editor at filling Station magazine. Her work has appeared, or is scheduled to appear in Room, Prairie Fire, Contemporary Verse 2, and EVENT among others. Amy won the 2018 BrainStorm Poetry Contest for her poem 'Swell'. She is the author of two chapbooks, most recently Ladybird, Ladybird published with Anstruther Press in August 2018.


An interview with John Luna

John Luna: I am a dual Canadian-American citizen born of Mexican + American expatriates. Besides writing, my practice is as a visual artist whose background includes painting, sculpture and installation, and a teacher working in the areas of art, design and art history. I currently reside on an island off of the west coast of N. America. Previous publication of written work in art criticism and poetry has appeared in Ditch, Canadian Art, Border Crossings, Canyon, Cordite, and Matrix, among others. A first collection of poems, Listing (Decoupage Publishing, 2015) was released through a small independent press with the help of a crowdfunding campaign. A second book-length manuscript was recently (2017) shortlisted for the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry.

How did you begin writing, and what keeps you going?

Sometime in grade school… There was a huge making culture in our house… My mother was an etcher who also worked with puppets, wrote children’s stories, and made us toys. My father had been a painter and curator and also wrote poetry, fiction and entertained a host of unpublished research projects, and my sister drew pictures and wrote stories… This was a huge component of mutually sustained esteem for an underdog family. The will to prolong and preserve that culture is something that I have trouble framing and frankly don’t want to; it (that culture) is formless, or it formlessly asserts itself in the desire to continue to write.
Your author biography mentions your work in painting, sculpture and installation. Are you able to work on poetry at all during the creation of visual artwork? How are you able to keep the two separate?

You put your finger on something very difficult. I used to move back and forth between them, swearing one off… because the problem is the notion of an outlet, and that the enterprise has to seem like the only possible choice (outlet or escape or way of going forward) otherwise it succumbs to all kinds of limiting conventions. But fertile times for one are also (generally) good for the other, and I learned a lot about how to approach editing after years of problems by adopting tools or attitudes used in painting and collage or assemblage. One problem is my excusing a lack of studio time because writing has been happening, or vice versa, and knowing that this is just a sop for the drive.

I don’t know that I want these things to be separate (I can recall my Dad giving me Blake’s Dante to underscore the idea of doing/being both), but I know that they have, often, very different audiences. And I don’t want the product of both situations to point back to some notional person (the hybrid artist/author person) at all; something about the self-consciousness of this approach is repellant. I am in the midst of organizing a show right now of visual things that also includes writing, and the importance, the priority, is in maintaining a kind of incoherence between them as a way of addressing this problem. A parallel I am trying to address it is by having a study in the attic and a studio in the basement, so that this kind of Bachelardian (Poetics of Space) construct can supplant the idea of being both people. I like the idea of the house, with its naïve space, as generator…   

What poets have influenced the ways in which you write?

I studied poetry minimally in school (one creative writing class years ago), and kind of prize my amateurism, because thinking of the work as professionalized, conventionalized or academicized is something that was a tremendous grind for me in pursuing an MFA in painting and teaching art and art theory in colleges and in high school; It furnished me with a kind of place-identity and set of passcodes, but it also got to be an awful purgatory that I can only seem to work my way out of by working in less-formal teaching situations.

My mother’s library introduced me to Anne Sexton as a teenager, and the idea of this kind of confessional yet hysterically detached, dry irony was something I loved at that time (15? Later, I would pick up the threads of this through Eliot, Plath and Auden, in that order)…When I was seventeen there was a sort of punk rock t-shirt shop that sold t-shirts with Picasso’s sketch of Rimbaud on them. I asked my father who he was, and he reached into the shelf and handed me Louise Varèse’s translation of Une Saison En Enfer, and, as they say, nothing was the same. I guess there was kind of a teenage dandy cult I shared with in my neighborhood that included Rimbaud and Baudelaire and Eliot and around that time Artaud entered the picture… and a few years after (early 20’s) the hugely important (to me) in media res questioning of Rilke and related negative theology of Paul Celan.

Candidly: it took years to shake off the influence of reading poetry in translation, which was kind of problematic from the point of view of both developing a sense of rhythm and a tendency to valorize/exoticize European surrogate father figures… My father had grown up with a lot of racism trying to become an academic as a Mexican in Los Angeles, and spoke about five or six languages, sort of reinventing himself in European cultural terms and this rubbed off on me I suppose. He had the best poetry library I had ever seen, with lots of bilingual presentations of Hispanic authours, so I also read Lorca, Neruda and Vallejo; the latter was a favourite because I was attracted to his obscurity and use of neologism (Trilce).

Later interests were more of those same threads: Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney, Adrienne Rich, William Carlos Williams, Allen Ginsberg, Hart Crane, W.H. Auden and John Ashbery…I sort of credit this continuum of gay uncle-figures (a self-conscious one, I think, linking Crane to Auden to Ashbery and, relatedly, John Cage and the art of Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Cy Twombly), a crew of ironized aesthetes, with providing safe passage out of the European problem while still preserving the stoic dandy problem, which is a thing I seem to need to read and use. Recently I have been reading older essays by Joan Didion in the same way.

How important has mentorship been to your work? Is there anyone who specifically assisted your development as a writer?

My family was hugely supportive of the whole creative enterprise when I was young (my current family is a great help now), but the relationship to writing was/is at a remove, in part because those years with my parents were years in which the adolescent trope of writing as a form of privacy was the mainstay. But there really was no mentor figure in terms of writing, which probably led to the problem of literature-poisoning at a young age that then had to be grown out of, gradually. At times I’m glad about this, as I put some stock in the notion (from Harold Bloom) of the value of misreading something, and mentors transfer personality and some notion of coherence along with whatever encouragement or craft is delivered… I’m very wary of received information and feel a kind of repulsion towards passed-on lesson where creativity is concerned unless (as in some art teaching) they can be either grounded in the craft limits of a specific tradition or problematized by fundamental mysteries in the way that, for instance, the entropic character of art materials can problematize artmaking.

What are you currently working on?

There are two ongoing projects, both represented by publications in Train. One is a series of fourteen line “reading poems” that use the notion of a reading journal as a casting off point. These will be featured in some form in the exhibition I alluded to…

The second is a small book-length collection of rather dense prose poems (The Accords) whose names are all taken from or referring to commercial fragrances. Train published “(Rive Gauche Pour Homme Eau de Toilette (Discontinued)) in November, which was from this collection. This had originally formed the heart of a longer book that I entered for the Robert Kroetsch Award in 2017; after it was shortlisted but didn’t win, I broke the book up and began working on the parts… The other two pieces (a series of ekphrastic pieces based on galleries in New York, and a sort of negative confession by way of poems based on a suit of clothes) are still in limbo. I am still adding to and editing The Accords, which will be about fifty pages as a word document, but will be trying to find someone who wants to publish it soon, though I have to get over my discomfort with independent publishing houses that ask you to compare your work to other authours they represent as a way of disambiguating your practice, a request that frankly appalls me.

Can you name a poet you think should be receiving more attention?

I think Nora Collen Fulton (someone I met here in BC, now residing in Montreal) is a chasteningly brilliant individual. I saw her reading from Life Experience Coolant some years ago and it was sort of that experience of just having the voice float as an icebound, room-clearing digestif that you always hope you’ll hear in your own work as you pick your way through the bits and pieces of work/doesn’t work and warm/cool/cold in a piece of writing. She will probably hate my mentioning this, and may already be receiving plenty of attention for all I know, but is it enough, and can it hurt?


The Light Salesmen

Aidan Chafe

They come on a Saturday wearing their Sunday best. They come ringing bells
with songs in their blood. They come high on resolve, itching for ears.

They come before your first coffee. They come when you’re not dressed
eating avocado and toast. When your mind is miserable and misunderstood, they come. 
They come when you’re afraid of honesty and the best of you is hiding.

They come waltzing in with wings. With fireflies in the belly hocking broken flashlights.

They speak of the Electrician. Ask if you’ve seen him, wonder if you’re looking,
and how long you’ve been in the dark. They claim to know his whereabouts,
offer you a map with his coordinates.

When you hesitate—no, but thank you—they leave 
moving swiftly towards your neighbour.

Aidan Chafe is a writer and public school teacher. His debut collection of poems Short Histories of Light was published with McGill-Queen’s University Press (2018). His work has appeared in literary journals including CV2, Event, PRISM international and The Maynard. He lives on the unceded territory of the Qayqayt First Nation (Burnaby, BC).



Billy-Ray Belcourt




Billy-Ray Belcourt is from the Driftpile Cree Nation. He is a Ph.D. student and Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Scholar in the Department of English & Film Studies at the University of Alberta. This Wound is a World is his first book; it won the 2018 Canadian Griffin Poetry Prize, the 2018 Robert Kroetsch City of Edmonton Book Prize, and a 2018 Indigenous Voices Award. His next book, NDN Coping Mechanisms: Notes from the Field, is due out in the fall of 2019 with House of Anansi Press.


Museum of Failures

Chris Banks

Henry Ford’s first two automobile companies failed
before America fell in love with the Model T. Cold
Fusion would be a great name for a night-club, or
a game-engine. In the Museum of Failures, uniformed
men panic as the Hindenburg bursts its small nova,
a piñata of fire, over a naval air-field in New Jersey.
Sky-cars and jet-packs never make it past design.
Frankenstein’s monster is fiction, unless, of course,
it is a metaphor for a viable pig-human embryo, or
nuclear deregulation. Chernobyl and Fukushima are
no one’s holiday destinations. A husband awakes
in restraints on a hospital gurney after deciding to go
for one beer. Another military operation goes horribly
wrong. In the Museum of Failures, there is a whole wing
dedicated to the human heart, its ability to self-detonate,
cause catastrophic loss. The story of the body is failure
amid evolution. Success is an algorithm sifted from many
defeats. Our lives are a landscape of small failures, but
we love to look at photo albums anyways. My inner
life fails to meet my expectations. Let’s stop pretending.
Be our authentic selves. Let’s stop failing to hear one
another. I’ve always wanted to write a poem called:
“The Care-taker of Loneliness Meets a Young Courtesan”.
which is either brilliant or a terrible title. Be honest,
but not too much. Emotions are okay, but keep out
the bodily fluids, unless it is blood. In the Museum of
Failures, this poem is written on a parchment of skin,
kept under glass, beside Creationism and the Avro Arrow,
adult baby food and vegetable-flavoured Jell-o.
If you are reading this, know you have failed to remain
undetected. The authorities are coming for you.

Chris Banks is the author of four previous collections of poems. His first full-length collection, Bonfires, was awarded the Jack Chalmers Award for poetry by the Canadian Authors’ Association in 2004. Bonfires was also a finalist for the Gerald Lampert Award for best first book of poetry in Canada.  His poetry has appeared in The New Quarterly, Arc Magazine, The Antigonish Review, Event, The Malahat Review, Prism International, among other publications. He lives and writes in Waterloo, Ontario.



An interview with Canisia Lubrin

Canisia Lubrin is a writer, editor, teacher and critic. She has contributed to Vallum, Brick, Quill & Quire among others and her poetry has been widely anthologised, including forthcoming translations into Spanish. She is the author of the poetry collection Voodoo Hypothesis (Buckrider Books, 2017). Lubrin’s fiction is included in The Unpublished City: Volume I (Book*hug, 2017), finalist for the 2018 Toronto Book Award.

Photo credit: Anna Keenan

How did you begin writing, and what keeps you going?

I'm not sure that I can offer a definitive memory. I do remember writing stories at five, maybe four. Mostly with drawings and mainly involving animals and the woods and apparitions. So very early. The joy and hard-won possibilities and discovery hoped or even promised in the act keep me writing. Writing is a great way of making sense of the world.

Have you noticed a difference in how you approach writing poems now that you’ve published a full-length collection?

Not that I can tell. No.

What poets have influenced the ways in which you write?

Dionne Brand. Folk Singers in St. Lucia. My grandmother. Derek Walcott. Kamau Brathwaite. Aimé Césaire. Many others, I'm sure, though I think confluence and even dissonance are better ways to characterize them. There's a lot of value in knowing what you don't want.

How important has mentorship been to your work? Is there anyone who specifically assisted your development as a writer?

I've always valued guidance. I've not always had it in writing because I didn't think of myself as a capital-W-writer for a very long time. I knew I loved writing and practiced it daily--in isolation. But life as a published writer always seemed a far-off impossibility. Still, I'd been blessed with very encouraging teachers: Mrs. Marshall in grade school, and in hight school English: Ms. Anthony (sharp-edged encouragement); very supportive, positive forces in others like Ms. Cappel (Social Studies) and Mr. Dasrat (who brought such fun to English Literature). Our principal, Mr. Egbert James, drew me back to math after a catastrophic 4 years in the same. In many ways, James's artistic sensibility about math led me to the interior rhythms of writing. In university, I had greatly encouraging professors in Jennifer Duncan, Rishma Dunlop and Priscila Uppal. Michael Helm also. The most impactful force and grace in my development through both her writings and mentorship in life is Dionne Brand. She's the best. And you will give her all her things.

You are currently the poetry editor for Humber Literary Review and a consulting editor for Buckrider Books/Wolsak and Wynn. Why do you feel this work is important, and what have you learned through the process?

I imagine editing is important to every editor who appreciates how this work fits into the broader ecosystem of writing. All of the things that necessitate this process--every microcosmic and macrocosmic factor--lead variously to the eventual life of a book and that magical interplay between its author and reader. No matter how I feel about it, editing is important for the ways it stems from our being in the world. It is a special focus on improvement. It is a form of sculpting that brings the world into sharper relief. As much a technical exercise as it is an exercise in insight: one you learn, and the other, you also learn--though some things make the grasp of the latter easier and necessarily complicated at once. I hope I'm learning on par with the authors I edit.

What are you currently working on?

Fiction: long and short. Nonfiction. Poetry. Exercising more frequently. Getting more sleep. Drinking more water. Mastering the jump rope.

Can you name a poet you think should be recieving more attention?

Chimwemwe Undi. M. NourbeSe Philip. Though what is even better is a world in which the measure of poetry is greater felt in spite of its conflation with attention or reception. That a poem will always find its true home, which is its best reader.



Jeremy Stewart


cannot do nothing
in dreamland I spit
tase your fears
drive off
fall from the wheel
of seasons
with lists I wish I wrote
not even those
horsey medicine mix-up
if we had known
deciduous thoughts
a situationist art school
in remotest hinterland
haunted used bookstore
your ashes in twelve golden discs
in green pourings
after the end where I began
in dreamland
on herringbone floor
awake in dreamland
with dreamlanders
alone among dreamlanders
after my death I was alive
grue and bleen pourings
invented a language in
which to talk to myself
while a rotary dial I
answer “hello,” you
snored roundly
over Strauss’ Metamorphosen
you know zero about
me and understand


grue violets burst and disperse their seeds
trace wire transfers branch to branch
arms flung around horse
we might as well all of us
be forgiven crimes
you in the back
think you are free of guilt
ushers will escort you out
what you hate in what you write takes
revenge on all you loved
singing saw sang songs
unface darkness in a lamp-out room
blank shirt or negative-coloured
bleen map of anthill
I should be happy I escaped
plans for a cathedral
shed or treefort
perfectly invisible or more so
becomings-what already
in logodaedaly
if I want to live
survive becomings-unaffordable
why did I not form healthy habits
want to live but now
judgement impends
somewhere else would I
I would have meant such else
that unchanges you
smooth seam with creased hand
how long can you deny
what fortress do you defend
not to change
the place it hurts
body is where it hurts
who is the smallest meteorite
interstellar mote


what music will they make
me listen in hell to
fans overhead in dreamland spin
describe a gidouille
when that else of life overwhelms writing
do you lose those poems
or are they stored somewhere
for your return to writing
in some form
does the loss of poems accumulate
as anti-matter writing
with own invisible gravity
calculable as mass
of unwritten time
in future writing
you would have loved my children so much
in dreamland

Jeremy Stewart is the author Hidden City (Invisible Publishing) and (flood basement (Caitlin Press). His work has appeared in Canadian Literature, Geist, Lemon Hound, Open Letter, and elsewhere. Stewart lives with his partner and children in unceded Coast Salish territory/Vancouver, BC.