Tuesday, April 14, 2009

filling Station #44


Two men with exhausted belts
saunter toward the intersection
with blue wigs and placards.

Deputy ministers and soccer moms
eddy out of traffic with their ringletted cargo
on the eight o’clock school run.

The pewter clouds,
the window down.
Last night I slept on the cool couch
and rose to eat breakfast with the dog.

I’ve got junk, yeah.
The way the sky holds rain
like water behind two parsed lips. (Monica Kidd)

It’s funny, I was only talking about them but recently, and here they are again with a new issue, finally on the other end of their recent funk, Calgary’s filling Station magazine, and issue #44 thicker than the previous two (at over one hundred pages), with a beautiful design by guest designer James Dangerous. There was concern floating around for months, and rumours as well (a good reassessment point for the journal, I’m sure; near-death is like that); we certainly didn’t want the journal to end, to end up in a list of regret by readers and contributors alike, Canadian literary journals that writing feels less without, including Queen Street Quarterly and Raddle Moon (which I’ve been rereading lately). Hell, do you remember when Contemporary Verse 2 was run by Dorothy Livesay? With her editorial, “filling Station goes to the hospital,” managing editor Laurie Fuhr answers a lot of the questions (and even rumours) that have been plaguing the journal over the past, say, two years, and puts them to rest (without ever really getting too specific); they have come out the other side, writing,

When an arts initiative gets sick, as when an organizer quits or funding is cut or some other disease of the art world takes hold, some people behind the initiative get the fear. […] When core members begin to get interested in other things or move away—as will happen eventually no matter how good a thing you’re up to (Colin, Sandy, Chris, Jason, Jordan, we miss you!)—there was hardly anyone left with whom to entrust the spark of Filling Station’s life force. We had been hemorrhaging people for a while, slowly, but this emergency situation sped up the overflow.

Fortunately, those who really cared about saving the life of the magazine gathered faithfully around the operating table in their sexy green doctor’s pajamas.
This is potentially a new chapter in the life of a journal that goes back some fifteen years of Calgary history, a journal that has always existed as a community effort, with poetry, fiction, artwork, reviews and other pieces in their current issue by new and familiar faces, such as Jonathan Ball (is he in every issue?), Evie Christie, Jesse Ferguson, ryan fitzpatrick, Monica Kidd, Judy Lin, Ryan Turner, Scott Rogers and a pile of others. There’s a translation feature featuring Neils Hav, who has been featured as well recently in more than a couple of publications by BookThug, with translations of his work by himself and a couple of others. And it’s just good to see new work by Alberta ex-pat Monica Kidd, and Edmonton poet Judy Lin, who has been starting to publish with increasing frequency over the past year. Evie Christie, who has been doing an increasing number of interesting interviews lately, continues with a conversation with Jonathan Bennett on his most recent novel, and what comes next.

A Laughter

The gas station grinds and toils
in the wind. There is nothing else.
Listen, the sound of all the signs like harps
in the air, a laughter in particular
addressed to no one, like the plastic bottle
skidding across the gravel knocking
a standard, it capsizes and spins
and continues past gates and doors
behind the house and across the field
almost flying through the grass
enjoying itself. (Neils Hav, trans. P.K. Brask & Patrick Friesen)

Okay, filling Station, you’ve got me; I’ve told the people to read you and subscribe. I think you might just be okay. I’m going to worry about someone else now, for a while.

1 comment:

Jonathan Ball said...

here's some fun trivia for you: i don't even know what i have published in issue 44 (haven't seen it yet) and also i was never told my work would be in issue 43, in fact i believed it rejected. not that i mind, i love filling station! but i'm certainly not knowingly saturating the mag... hope you liked the piece, whatever it was.