At 31 I have 12 children. Giving birth is like shutting a door. It is too many, I know. They bring me joy, but they don’t know it. The drinking is bad now. He’s gone for days. When he comes back with nothing our screams slam against the walls. He’s taken the gun down twice. I think I am young and still have a chance.
The first time the children see me cry I am pregnant for the last time. My son has been gone 18 hours and it is the dead of winter. Hunting. I am so tired of children I am surprised I can still love and fear loss. When my son walks in the door the tears have stopped.
When I have given him 15 children he dies. I cry, but the tears are for myself. Now I want someone to tease me wild. (Kim Minkus, “Fifteen”)
After years of issues focusing more on poetry than fiction or the mix between poetry, fiction, artwork and critical prose, it’s interesting to see Vancouver’s West Coast Line focus on a fiction issue, with self-contained pieces and excerpts of longer projects by many of the usual West Coast Line suspects, including Meredith Quartermain, Kim Minkus, Daphne Marlatt, Kim Goldberg, Michael Turner, Tony Power, Chris Ewart, Jenn Farrell, Roger Farr, Marwan Hassan, Nicole Markotic and Hannah Calder. Rumours for years have suggested that Meredith Quartermain has been working on a novel, so it’s wonderful to finally see a section of such emerge. There are plenty of questions on where fiction is heading, where the novel is going, but so few works seem to push the question to provide any kind of answer. Too often, as well, why is it Canadian literary journals keep publishing the same kind of prose, repeatedly, with so little room for anything else?
If Calgary’s derek beaulieu and Christian Bök are considered conceptual artists who happen to work within the realm of the poem, Vancouver writer Michael Turner can be similarly considered for fiction, publishing works such as Hard Core Logo, American Whiskey Bar and 8x10, with his contribution to the issue being “Prairie Intellectuals (Part Two),” playing with the notions of what a story should be, of what storytelling requires.
With description, towards the end of the page: a vertical line drawn by the publisher, editors and a designer. If character, then bounding out a door into a snowstorm – bouncing off a fence and starting over, repeatedly, the fence accepted.
The end of the page is not a fence, she said. Nor is it a gutter. A gutter requires two pages, bound. And only later, depending on how many lines.
Those marks in the snow—
—they are letters, first, then words.