Monday, March 06, 2006

Headlight Anthology #7, 8 + 9

I've been a fan of the annual Headlight Anthology, a product of the Creative Writing Program at Montreal's Concordia University, for some time (see my review of Headlight #6 here). When I was in Montreal recently, to read at the Atwater Library, I was fortunate enough to accidentally meet editor April Ford while wandering the Creative Writing Department offices, and get copies of not only the previous two issues that I'd missed (I'm still missing copies of #1-4, if anyone out there has any…), but a week or so later, sent me issue #9, fresh from the printer.

Gracefully produced, the headlight anthologies are student run, student produced and include student work, open (apparently) to all students current and former, but predominantly including those currently in the creative writing program. The more I go through other collections made by classes here and there, including those by Carleton University, McGill and University of Ottawa students, the more impressed I am with the poetry and fiction published in headlight; you can tell that the writers included know a thing or two about writing, and have been exposed to much more than just what they have fed each other in class. Why can't more programs produce such quality, and such interesting variety?

headlight anthology #7 (2004), edited by Sarah Steinberg: contributors Johann St-Louis, Julia Tausch, Dan Gillean, Dimitri Nasrallah, Dave Mix, Ryan Arnold, Ian Orti, Aline Lemay, Moez Surani, Malcolm Sutton, Larissa Andrusyshyn, V.C. David, Alex Porco and Pasha Malla.

Montreal performer and events organizer Larissa Andrusyshyn has been involved in literature in Montreal for some time, producing events and publishing zines, and was included in the anthology Running With Scizzors (cumulus) a few years ago. I like the simplicity of the small piece she has in this collection (almost too simple, perhaps). Not a bad piece, but I know for a fact she has produced more interesting material. Perhaps I've just seen later work?

you asked

you asked how i'd read
that poem.
i'd use the pauses, i said,
each of them.

you like to run
the sentences together,
read it like a long rope uncoiling.

it was your favorite
and i broke
every line.

headlight anthology #8 (2005), edited by April Ford: foreword by George Elliott Clarke, contributors Adam Beresford, Veronica Charnley, Chris O'Meara, Taylor Brown-Evans, Ian Goodman, Andrew Hood, Ryan Van Huijstee, James Irwin, Elizabeth Marshall, Nick McArthur, Eva McKinnon, Kimberly Muncey, Brendan Murphy, Chris O'Meara, Sara Peters, t. brent shaus, Katye Seip, Joshua Swidzinski and Gillian Sze.

I'm very glad to see work included in this issue by James Irwin, as he took a poetry workshop from me a while back, before moving from Carleton University to Concordia.

one only

he slid off the wing
of the airplane
she stepped onto the dock
of the freight ship
on the middle of lake superior
she caught him, just
the sky and the water agreed

-- James Irwin

Another lovely (and short) piece is by Sara Peters, who has also published poems in Room of One's Own and The Antigonish Review:

Making Soup Is An Exercise

You gather the onions
and strip their first layers like cigarette paper.
Tomatoes are mushy and mild,
and when you slit their bellies the pulp oozes gently, as if
they have done this before. You would like to write
a plain poem about olives or salt or how
making soup is an exercise in becoming
your mother. The nursing, the simmering, the skimming of oil like
tears from the top.

-- Sara Peters

headlight anthology #9 (February, 2006), edited by April Ford, editorial board Larissa Andrusyshyn, Antonella Fratino, Dan Gillean and Greg Seib: foreword by Daniel David Moses, contributors Tom Bauer, Adam Beresford, Emily Evans, Ryan Van Huijstee, Aaron Kreuter, Jani Krulc, Michael Lithgow, Ben McCarthy, Eva McKinnon, Sachiko Murakami, Veronika Pienkowski, Laura Roberts, Jennifer Shenowda, Alison Strumberger and Joshua Swidzinski.

I'm not entirely sure why this issue and the one before need forewords by George Elliott Clarke (previous volume) and Daniel David Moses (this one); I'm certainly not against forewords, but these little productions can certainly stand on their own. Part of the entertainment of this issue, is that it's the first in quite some time that has not a single contribution (but the foreword) by anyone I've actually heard of; although I'm quite surprised, considering Ottawa poet Wanda O'Connor has been a student in the creative writing department since September, that she isn't in this year's version. She has certainly been producing interesting enough work. I can only hope the editors are able to include her in next year's version.

Otherwise, one of the headlight highlights has to be the short pieces by Eva McKinnon, and Jennifer Shenouda, in her two-page "Poorly Aimed Snowballs," that begins:

young couples in quest for fire
settle for car heaters.
parked just beyond the grocer's lot
the last hymnal sleigh carriage departs.

this sight used to as common as a cold,
died down since suburbia's ice age:
prehistoric nineteen ninety eight,
we marked the end of that tradition.


i ran from you in the frozen foods section.
the imagined lifetimes
shovelled between us,
dripping from this chance encounter.


entire families wiped out in a single fury—
where love barters it's only victims:
ice cubes take the place of the fathers,
the sons,

and the holy mothers.

If you want copies (five dollars each, apparently), you can either go to The Word Bookstore just by McGill University (where I usually find them), or go directly to the Creative Writing Department at Concoria University in Montreal; otherwise, email April Ford at

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