Monday, July 25, 2011

headlight anthology 14

For this 14th edition, we wanted to join the voice of Concordia's student body to those of other schools nationwide. We sent out a call for unsettling and curious writing and were impressed by the diversity and skill with which the authors approached this theme. Thank you to all the writers who submitted, and who allowed us to explore the slightly disturbed reaches of their imagination.
I recently received a copy of headlight anthology 14, put together by an editorial group led by editors-in-chief Sabrina Lightstone and Caitlin Stall-Paquet. As much as I enjoy the occasional theme issue, I'm not sure if the Concordia University annual headlight anthology, now in its fourteenth year, was necessarily the place for such a theme of outsiders, and predominantly since the publication is only annual. Do we now have to wait another year to see what students in and around the creative writing department at Montreal's Concordia University are doing? Part of what has always attracted me to this publication (I think I'm only missing the first couple of issues) has been precisely through the opportunity to read some newer Montreal-based writers that I might not have seen (yet), otherwise. Yet, their editorial choice for a theme, on one hand, and stretching open submissions across to other universities, on the other, is an intriguing one; what might other students in other centres be writing, from their spaces including programs (whether Regina, Guelph, Victoria or Calgary) or not (Ottawa)? Unfortunately, I worry that the theme and the open call takes away exactly what makes these anthologies so great: publishing the best writing from students in and around the creative writing program at Concordia. There are some interesting pieces here (the last line of Leesa Dean's “Manuelzinho #2 (found)” is quite startling), but on the whole, the issue doesn't really sing. headlight anthology is supposed to sing. Why doesn't it sing?
Manuelzinho #2 (found)

You say they're burying him today.

Your father:
a fistful of endless superiority
a honeycombed conspirator with no friends
suddenly dead in the kitchen
beside the stove
pants down
potatoes in a triangle at his feet
dead from poisoned cabbage
and you think it's funny.

I give you money for the funeral.
You buy a pound with it
so I hand over more
but you come again,
sniffling and shivering.

You are the strangest blueprint of a father
a thread
a pump gone dry
a sodden grandfather in your thirties
the worst gardener since Cain.

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