Tuesday, September 27, 2011
NorthWord : A Literary Journal of Canada's North
It's an interesting place, this city. I've often heard comments about how the arts and culture community is somehow lacking here, and yet I find this to be an absurd statement, and so very untrue. We have a vibrant arts and culture scene, and all one needs to do is to embrace it. Recently I had the pleasure of receiving an advance copy of the latest issue of NorthWord, a magazine born and published right here in Fort McMurray, and through it I discovered yet another facet of that arts scene.
NorthWord specifically publishes works of writers from northern Canada. The magazine is only released twice yearly, but that release is a much-anticipated event in our little, but burgeoning, literary community. I sat down on a lovely autumn afternoon to read my copy, a day when my living room happened to be drenched in that warm fall sunshine we have been enjoying, and it seemed fateful since the theme of the issue I was reading happens to be "Light".
I read a stunning poem called "Solace", by a poet named Suzanne McGladdery, and it was a piece that spoke to me on many levels as I have experienced the feelings it evoked. There was the twist of fate (and a ladder) in the short story "Vanity Lights" by Melodie Campbell, and an equally astonishing twist of events in the short story "My Husband's Wife", by Julia Madeleine. In fact, I read every single word this magazine contained, my favourite mug of coffee in my hand, and I revelled in the talent those words revealed.
You see, people, writing is not easy, and I know this first hand. One would think it is effortless and that it simply flows, and some days it does. Some days, though, it fights back and you struggle to tame those words, to find some way to force them onto your paper (or your laptop screen, as in my case). So, to read northern writers who can make those words dance and sing as if puppets to their intent and imagination is amazing. To see them do so in a publication based in our own community makes it even more incredible.
NorthWord seeks submissions from all northern writers, and if you have ever considered submitting your works to a magazine I suggest this would be a wonderful place to do so. It may seem a slim publication, small and humble in relation to those enormous book-mark requiring magazines that line the bookstore shelves, and yet I think we all know that sometimes the best things can be found in the smallest packages. When you open an issue of NorthWord you can feel the love and commitment of those who are involved in producing this magazine have for it, and for the written word. This is, as one of them said to me, "their baby". This is their gift to the world, and their gift to our community. For $9.50 you can own a copy of NorthWord, share in their vision, and accept that gift.
NorthWord also happens to be hosting a Poetry Party and Silent Auction on Saturday, October 1st, from 10 am - 2 pm at the Fort McMurray Public Library. There will be copies of the magazine available, as well as poetry-related activities and games. This is an ideal opportunity to check out the literary scene in the community (and yes, people, it does exist) and to support a wonderful little magazine that allows some northern talent to shine. The best part is that there is also time to submit your work for the next issue of NorthWord. Submissions will be accepted until October 15th, and can be sent to The Editors. The theme of the next issue is "Sin", and I cannot wait to see northern writers explore that topic as it's quite an enticing one.
Look, people, these sorts of publications run very close to the bone. The individuals who publish them put a great deal of blood, sweat, tears, and love into them, and the pay-off in terms of money is virtually zero. The true pay-off comes from the pride of giving writers in the north a place to share their works, and in providing others with the pleasure of reading them. This is the true beauty of a publication like NorthWord, but without public support these efforts can falter and even, sadly, disappear. So, do me a favour. Go buy a copy of NorthWord, and/or come on out to the Poetry Party on Saturday. Show those who publish this magazine that they are appreciated, and show those writers who have their works in it that those works matter and that they are important. In the end, people, we all want what we do to matter to someone - so be that someone, would you, Fort Mac? See ya on October 1st.