Perzine Review: Sh!t Happens

Sh!t Happens

Perzine, Darian Steelman, Voices of Resilience Presents,

Darian Steelman: chronic underachiever, or perpetually unlucky people person? It depends on how you look at it. Steelman takes us on the rocky road from his teenage years to his early 20s in this zine, the result of a youth zine workshop in Winnipeg. Along the way, his income and living situation are in flux. Even though the zine ends with him in a stable place, you get the impression that “stability” in his life is only a short break amidst a life of otherwise consistent instability.

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Poetry Review: Shut Up Slow Down Let Go Breathe

Shut Up Slow Down Let Go Breathe

Marcus McCann, 96 pages, Invisible Publishing,, $16.95

Toronto is about as peaceful as my lactose-intolerant stomach after drinking milk. The city is synonymous with bombardment, overstimulation, and squeamishness. Does calm exist here? And if she does, how do we find her? Marcus McCann plays with answering this question in the collection Shut Up Slow Down Let Go Breathe.

The melodic “Lyric for a Little Lullaby” opens the collection. The lines are inspired by those ominous subway announcements of transit delays: “We are currently experiencing a delay / west-bound at Bay. / Efforts to resume / regular service / are underway.” This is a familiar voice now broken into a measured step. Comfortable. Friendly. Kind. Halting. As promised, the transit lullaby rocks us to disarmed and restful sleep. Some great ideas for the TTC, if they’re interested.

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Chapbook Review — The Gorge: A Cartographer of Sorrows

The Gorge: A Cartography of Sorrows

Chapbook, Wendy Donawa, Leah Fowler & Terry Ann Carter, 64 pgs, JackPine Press,

This chapbook aims to capture not only the history of a significant West Coast water-way, flowing inland from Victoria and through a multitude of culturally-charged districts, but simultaneously to grapple with its contemporary effect on the lives of one poet, one photographer, and one book designer. Though the work is attributed mainly to Wendy Donawa, the author of the eight-poem sequence contained therein, this review cannot help but setting the work equally on the shoulders of Leah Fowler, whose photography situates each poem immediately in the geographic, historical present of “The Gorge Waterway,” and the book design of Terry Ann Carter, which — what with the book being composed of archived maps of the area — allows the chapbook’s content to speak to its reader materially and poetically.

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Zine Review — Raw: Who are You to Tell Me Who I Am

Raw: Who are You to Tell Me Who I Am

Poetry Zine, Mirae Lee & Amy Wang, 27 pgs, Issue 1,, $5

In their short introduction to this inaugural issue, Mirae Lee and Amy Wang ask “Who holds authority over narratives about my identity? Am I who I decide to be, or am I what the world perceives me as? How do I reconcile the different, sometimes conflicting, sides of my personality as a complex human being?” In the nine free-verse poems that follow, they aim to answer these questions, “reclaiming our sense of self and autonomy.”

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Signs You Were Born to Enter The Indie Writer’s Deathmatch

The Deathmatch deadline is coming up on December 31, 2017, and even though the prize this year is bonkers some people might still be on the fence about entering. So Broken Pencil has broken down a life history of probably all Deathmatch competitors to help anyone with their hemming and hawing.

1. As an infant, you were a sucker for tragic nursery rhymes. The bough breaking and cradle falling during Rock-a-Bye Baby brought you to fits of giggles and spit-bubbles, whereas hearing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star for the millionth time coaxed out your first word – vapid.

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Art Holes: Bug Cru

Art holes is a column where artists diagram their workspaces. This issue, illustrator and tattoo artist Bug Cru gives us a look.

My art space is a desk that is made from an unhinged door underneath a loft bed that a friend built for me for a skill trade.

It hides in my bedroom, which is also my studio, nestled up in the attic of a punk house called Lost Cause in south Vancouver. It’s by far the nicest space I’ve ever worked or lived in, so it feels like a blessing to capture it for this column.

I am a queer and trans visual artist from the West Coast. My media include drawing, illustration, permanent marks on skin, comics, posters, textiles and zines. I identify with Outsider Art, and aim to build relationships with that which is wild, ugly and abstract. My practice is an invitation to a navigation of gender, bodies, magic, trauma, human connection, capitalism and oppression. I draw because self-documentation is a vital tool for survival and empowerment, and sometimes it helps pay for groceries.