Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Filling Station is new again!

Hi, it's been ages. What's been going on? Well, I'm now Managing Editor of Filling Station. This is going to be a huge job because I keep finding extra work to be done - re-examining our use of different vendors, our use of materials, our web presence, our survival tactics with regards to funding, and then there's all the fun proofreading and editing and grant writing and event planning.

Fortunately, we now have a stellar team of excited, talented literary folk on our Collective these days. We're always looking for more Collective members to help choose the content that appears in the magazine and share ideas for improvement. So if you're in Calgary, drop a line to If you're not in Calgary, you might as well move here to be part of it. Let's start a Greenwich Village for writing. You be Joan Baez, I'll be Joni Mitchell, we'll have some kind of awesome cat fight (Joni would totally win) and get in bed with really hot folk musicians.

We're also looking for a new webmaster & web designer, so please let me know if you might be into that as well. Again, we're hoping for Calgary-based help. is officially kaput for the time being, so please check our Blow-Out Fest Blog at for info.

Next submissions deadline: May 1!

* * *

What else am I up to? Playing upright bass for my friend Dylan's band, Sadlier-Brown & The Sound. We're a six-piece roots rock band, we have some rough demos and a pic up at Also playing electric bass for ryan fitzpatrick's new project, The Ogden Owls. ryan's amazing, and so are James & Jocelyn, who are also Filling Station editors.. it's practically the Filling Station band until ryan moves on as Flywheel Coordinator in June. By the way, I'm no longer with Lonely Hunters or Pine Tarts, but they're still my pals. No longer on the Single Onion board either. Writing about music for Beatroute occasionally when I know there's a really great band that needs coverage. Interviewed Neko Case via email, but was really bummed that she didn't reply in time for the deadline.. Still, Middle Cyclone is an amazing album. Write for music weeklies if you want to hear amazing music faster. Wandering around with an alt-country tornado in my ears for a couple weeks was a highlight of my winter.

Thinking about starting my own band, but I'm pretty busy with Filling Station, my full-time job at the ballet, and Dylan's band. Still, I'm sitting on about two albums worth of indie pop rock and 1 of alt country / roots rock type material, and my butt's really getting sore, all those pointy music notes, all those paper cuts.. so I've got to get off it or really get on it. Hmm.

Just got a copy of the new Kara Keith, it's amazing! Everyone look it up on CDBaby, it's called Kara Keith & Your Dignity, and the album is called Visions Fugitives. Kara was a bright belle of the Calgary music community and has moved to Montreal where she's been working with a producer who did one of the Arcade Fire's albums among other things.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

filling Station is fine

Hi folks,

Have been getting some inquiries about the health of filling Station. Thank you to those concerned, but no need to worry, the website is being maintained at the moment by our lovely webmaster and will be back up soon. The magazine is thriving, we had a great year last year and this year is shaping up to be a good one too. We're a veritable anomoly of Canadian literature publishing success. So yes, please, send us your submissions! We're always looking for good stuff. I in particular am invested in finding reviews, articles, interviews, and such. If you've never tried writing journalistic pieces, why not? Send send send.

If you are curious about work submitted and have not received a reply, please email so that we will have your contact info to let you know. We do receive a large number of submissions relative to the small amount of space we have to publish in, so if you do experience rejection, please continue to submit - yes, selection is about quality, but seeing it from this angle, I know that it's also about odds, space, how submissions fit with other submissions, volume, etc.

Thanks for caring about filling Station! Please keep reading it, sending things to it, and do get your brains in gear and send me some journalistic stuff will you? You can definitely take creative license about it, nevermind what old T.S. Eliot says in that regard.. go ahead, interview dead people, review books that came out 100 years ago, write an article about a reading series you went to in the future when we wore our brains suspended in liquid-filled diving helmets because global warming has made our skulls too hot for everyday use. My sense of humour wants to make mad mad love to your extra cheesy brand metaphors.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Married, Not Dead

(lifted wholesale from my Myspace).

Married, Not Dead. Current mood: thankful

May 26th was my wedding day. It's fucking awesome to actually be happy, to be able to both say it and feel it genuinely - a year and a half ago I was miserable. I was living in a mouse- and wasp- infested basement apartment in Citadel that the landlord wouldn't do anything about, living with the deadbeat addict boyfriend I'd moved here from Cold Lake with, and working at a seniors community. Life had been pretty shitty up until then too. My parents moved from Ottawa when I was 19 and I'd stayed behind because I was tired of moving, having been a military brat. I dropped out of the English Literature program at Carleton University, broke and depressed, to busk the Byward Market and write unpublishable poetry about people who were gone from my life, meanwhile smoking and drinking as much as I could afford to, working shit waitressing jobs, and dating a sleezy dealer or a French con artist. I never would have thought I'd reconnect with this shy talented boy I'd once known, now a shy and talented and handsome man, get engaged, and be married - a mere year and a half after finally getting rid of mooching, jobless asshole Blake and escaping scam realtor Bertram Okeke's big yellow slum mansion. Gareth Williams, you've saved me. Finding myself able to love you after going through all that shit, I've also saved myself. More proof we make a good team.

It may be difficult to imagine, but being married doesn't mean I'm dead, or dormant, or that I'm going to stop playing music. In fact, I really can't, since I'm playing bass and singing backup vocs in my husband Gareth's band. Not to mention the birdheat EP I'm working on. I think it sounds like Reverie Sound Review influenced by an all-night LSD party with Emily Haines and Julie Doiron. What the hell does that mean? We'll see. I think it'll be a lot of fun. Anyway, that aside, the band Gareth and I have together along with our friends Ben Rayner and Tynan Groves is called lonely hunters. Our wee Myspace page is and shows off new tracks from our upcoming album.

For our stag/stagette, we asked Grandfather Fire and the Holy Morning, along with Fox Opera and Jagatha Christies, to play at Soda. Thanks to their talents and smiling faces, it was a great time. Markus Overland got on top of a speaker and began to radiate multicoloured riffs of psychedelia from his beard. Jzero pulled crepe paper streamers of notes from his keyboard and they got all over. Once they got on you, your pores turned into tiny stars, so you were practically made out of music after that. No kidding. Grandfather Fire has a CD coming out, and I got a copy of it that night. They went to a remote cabin, romantics that they are, and laid down some beautiful tracks! Then they handmade cardboard cases and art for it, which look a bit slicker than Lucid 44's handiwork but have retained all the soul. Beauty. Jagatha Christies are also working on a new EP in a certain musician's garage, and along with Fox Opera, all three bands are playing Sled Island. Gareth and I have passes and intend to enjoy the festival as much as possible, trying not to be bummed that our band wasn't asked to play. The festival is a great idea with tons of terrific bands playing, and we just couldn't resist Cat Power.

A few days later, our wedding reception saw our friends Jagatha Christies play for us again, along with best men Tyler Shipley and Matt McLennan from bands Consumer Goods and Mr. Pine (which I'll tell you about in a minute), Mr. Pine's Kevin Scott, and groomsman Ryan McVeigh. My cousins Sean and Nikki played a set, our friend Mat from Boats! made a chorus of himself out of pedals and wizardry, and to top it off, we headlined our own wedding. What a night! My mom's pretty traditional and wouldn't let me get away with the garden wedding idea, but at least we had our rock reception. Even Granny got into it. How 80 years worth of suffering the world and a husband that's left that world before you can still equal party animal, I don't know. The tiny woman is a marvel of the human spirit. It was wonderful to see her so geared up, smiling, dancing, staying up way past her bed time until one, and even leaping through the air for the bride's bouquet. She transformed into this little blue and gold bird and absolutely soared. Gareth's dad, visiting from Wales, got it on camera. You can see the moment when the feathers sprout, it's mindblowing.

Looking ahead, we're releasing our debut album July 7 at Marquee Room. A Vancouver band called Said the Whale will be supporting us. We're excited because tonight we're meeting with our friend Sandy, the industrious local graphic designer responsible for and who's a Jagatha Christie too, to see the final coloured version of our album art. Then we're sending it off for manufacturing, sponsored in part by other members of our recently-formed record collective, Grumpy Cloud.

The label is awesome and can only get more awesome still, in part because of the lonesome distance that separates members. Everyone started out in Winnipeg, playing in bands together like The Poets and Cone Five and The Horribly Awfuls. Technically my first band was in Winnipeg too, actually, called Breaking Syntax, but that's another story. Now the collective members are based in Winnipeg, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, and soon Vancouver, in bands The Haste, lonely hunters, The Consumer Goods, and Mr. Pine respectively, which are all active and putting out debut or sophomore albums. I've heard the argument that every successful label is based somewhere in particular, but I can see this arrangement working even better. Each Grumpy Cloud member will know their city first-hand, and be able to hand-deliver Grumpy Cloud records to all the right independent record stores and media folks, as well as sell Grumpy titles at their shows. Also, while on tour, we'll all have a place to stay almost anywhere, either through labelmates or friends of friends.

Recently we had some news from Ryan McVeigh, our friend and the excellent audio engineer who has been recording these musicians from the beginning - first at Mid-Ocean School, where he teaches, and now from his home studio. He's moving to Vancouver, and taking his talent with him. Now we'll be even more scattered, so recording our next album might have to coincide with Vancouver tourdates next year. It's exciting - I've never been to Vancouver. I was born in Comox and haven't been back to B.C. since. So I look forward to visiting Ryan in his new digs next year and checking it out. We're playing a show with a Vancouver band called Said the Whale for our album release at Marquee Room on July 7, so maybe we'll be able to do some shows with them on their own turf to when the time comes. Consumer Goods' drummer who also plays with The Details played with them before and said their nice folks. We'll probably be playing a show with them soon too, will keep you posted.

In addition to booking and playing lonely hunters shows and working on my EP, I'll be continuing to get involved with the Calgary Housing Action Initiative when I can, plus planning & playing the Holy Beep! Benefit at Broken City on July 20th, putting together Calgary MultiArts, programming Broken Reels at Broken City, volunteering with Side Stage backline at Folk Fest, coordinating musicians for the Single Onion poetry series, and doing General Editor duties at filling Station Magazine, meanwhile working my regular dayjob at a not-for-profit association. Some friends think I'm silly to make myself so busy, but as a couple of others I know that are as busy as I am (both of who happen to be named Mark) would probably agree, I can tell you that it's a good feeling when you've got everything under control and you feel as though you're not wasting too much time being idle in your short life. You go to bed tired, and if you haven't abused your body overmuch, it feels good - you know you're going to have the best sleep.

Anyway, much to look forward to! New life, new album, another one in the works (Gareth's prolific like that), and new songs of my own surfacing unrestricted by the aforementioned, previous penchant towards romantic suffering, purposeful or subconscious. Fuck the ephemeral, goddamn the meaningless. Now I can get down to finding which words might matter after I'm dead, if any words ever do. But also fuck over-seriousness. Then, all of this having been fucked, find and pull from those wrecked bedsheets something in between meaning and decadent frowning - while avoiding outright insanity if possible. It's a dirty job but I'm ready for it, I'm strong, my breasts are perky, I'm smiling with too many teeth, I'm not quite foaming at the mouth.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Canada Council 50th Anniversary Arts Challenge

Canada Council 50th Anniversary Arts Challenge

"Can you do 50 arts activities in a year? You may think you’re not an arts person, but have you ever thought about how art figures into your day?

Here is your opportunity to tell Canadians about your 50 arts adventures in 2007-- be they serious, extraordinary, official, ridiculous or sublime."

(Thanks to Amanda Earl for passing this on to me).

Thursday, April 26, 2007

filling Station has a new General Editor..

Hey! Cool! Thanks fS.

If anyone has articles or reviews suitable for filling Station, the national literary magazine based in Calgary, please don't hesitate to send them to or directly to myself if you have my email.

filling Station is always looking for poetry, prose, short fiction, novel excerpts, visual art, and even independent films (short or feature) to publish or review. Please visit for submissions info. We don't have a set mandate, but we tend to favour the innovative, interesting, experimental, or otherwise exciting.

You can find the mag all over, in both independent bookstores and spots like McNally Robinson and Chapters. If you can't find it, they can also be ordered from the site. It's the best damn little mag in Canada, I promise. (Matrix is pretty cool sometimes too though).

Peter F. Yacht Club Sails to Calgary now available

Not to mention this now-newer Yacht, as email-listed by rob mclennan:

The Peter F Yacht Club #7
Edited & compiled & typeset & paid for by rob mclennan
April 2007 (spring writers festival special)

John Barton
George Bowering
Stephen Brockwell
Amanda Earl
Jesse Ferguson
Laurie Fuhr
Phil Hall
Nicholas Lea
Clare Latremouille
Marcus McCann
rob mclennan
Max Middle
Wanda O'Connor
Roland Prevost
Sandra Ridley
Wes Smiderle

The Peter F. Yacht Club, issue #7; irregular (very) writers group
publication. Edited & compiled & typeset & paid for by rob mclennan.
Previous issues still available (possibly) at $5 each. Issue #1, August
2003, edited by rob mclennan; Issue #2, April 2004, edited by Anita
Dolman (out of print); Issue #3, September 2004, edited by Peter Norman and
Melanie Little; Issue #4, September 2005, edited by rob mclennan; Issue
#5, April 2006, edited by Max Middle; Issue #6 (mis-numbered Calgary
special), February 2007, edited by Laurie Fuhr.

For availability of previous issues, write rob mclennan, c/o 858 Somerset Street West, main
floor, Ottawa Ontario Canada K1R 6R7, or email

or show up to this spring's ottawa international writers festival!

(above/ground press subscribers (eventually) rec' a complimentary

for further info, check out

Comment on - Arc's Forgotten and Neglected Issue

(As submitted for approval to be posted along with other reader comments on the above site).

Not sure what I'll find in the issue, but hoping to see writing on Diana Brebner as well as Candis Graham (though as an aside for the blog reader, my proposal to write on the latter was not acknowledged). Of our passed poets, it's hard to say who has been forgotten and neglected more than the next poet in a country where even the published, living authors have trouble not being forgotten and neglected. And in a society where news media's ephemeral daily reinvention of What We Should Think Is Important has a definite (but mostly unacknowledged) affect on our judgments, the new might be valued over the old simply for its newness rather than its quality. Guess who could be included or ignored depends whether it’s the lit community memory or the country's memory we're talking about jogging; if just the lit community's, then which genre communities get included, since the lyrical poets might forget and neglect the experimental poets dead or alive, and vice-versa. Should Arc seem to be advertising that they are presenting an overview of forgotten and neglected Canadian poets on the whole, I would hope for (but not expect to find, given Arc’s usual mandate) a fair-as-possible cross-section of authors from various genres if possible. Will be interesting to see this issue.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

pantoum of pants

concrete tree, a wrought-iron bench.
tailored suits for tailored people.
a tensed car / frieze / a crashway.
Autonomous Rex the techno-dino.

tailored suits for tailored people.
such-and-sucks about the sky.
Autonomous Reg the techno-vag.
unstable substances board your horse.

such and sucks about the clouds.
mindless pseudopolitical mumble.
unstable substances bored me hoarse.
try this Cheesequake before it tries you.

mindless pseudoanalytical jumble.
concrete tree, a wrought-iron Bens.
unexpected gift is creepy kindness.
a sensed bear / freeze / a cashway.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Children writing backwards

My friend Leigha's little daughter Sydnee writes in mirror-image. Thought I'd look into it. Here's something I found online at the URL above:

Five-Year-Old Writes Backwards
Pediatrics Expert Advice from Shari Nethersole, M.D.

Question: My five-year-old granddaughter, when trying her skills at writing, usually starts on the right side of the paper rather that the left. About half of the time she mixes her Bs and Ds and makes her S backwards. She has been in a structured day care and is getting ready for kindergarten this fall. Any need for concern, especially about dyslexia?

Answer: There is no need for concern if your granddaughter is otherwise well. It is completely normal for children to write "backwards" at this age. In addition to letter and number reversals, some children will truly write in mirror image: going from right to left with all the letters reversed. There is nothing wrong with this. The brain does not completely form the concept of left and right until somewhere between ages five and eight. This means that almost all children will have persistent reversals when they first start writing.

meop rof eendyS

t'nod eb eulb
t'nod og srekcarc
s'ti yako fi er'uoy a elttil sdrawkcab

sgniht teg ssel erup sa uoy worg dlo
od ew lla trats sdrawrof, neht og
sdrawkcab nehw er'ew dlot?