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In this newsletter: November's Arc Award of Awesomeness prompt and September's winner; Archibald Lampman Award winner; Diana Brebner Prize winner; an interview with poet, editor, and Arc's new poet-in-residence, Jim Johnstone, upcoming virtual poetry events, submission deadlines for 14 publications; featured review

Announcing our new Poet-in-Residence, Jim Johnstone!

Jim Johnstone is a Toronto-based poet, editor, and critic. He’s the author of five books of poetry, including The Chemical Life (Véhicule Press, 2017) and Dog Ear (Véhicule Press, 2014). Currently, he edits the Anstruther Books imprint at Palimpsest Press where he published The Next Wave: An Anthology of 21st Century Canadian Poetry in 2018.
ML: Congratulations on the new position as Arc’s Poet-in-Residence 2020–2021! You have an exceptional amount of experience mentoring first-time authors. How would you describe your mentorship philosophy? Has it changed over the years?
JJ: As an editor, I always try to serve the poet in question. This is the case re: mentorships as well, and at the moment Anstruther Press is set up so that I can work with first-time authors on several levels. Yes, we dig in to the details of the manuscript being published, look at poems up close, talk craft, and zoom out to assess book structure. But I also like to discuss expectations around publishing, get into the weeds regarding book design, and give information on funding models that might help poets going forward. 
As for how all of this has changed over time, I’d say that I that I have more resources to offer now, as opposed to when I started out. I also see the need to mentor editors as well, and have tried to create opportunities for those who’d like to try their hand at it. I’ve been lucky to work side-by-side with writers like David Ly, Klara du Plessis, Blair Trewartha, and Katie Fewster-Yan in recent years, and really, they’ve taught me as much about mentorship as I’ve taught them.
ML: What opportunities do you see in virtual mentorships compared to in-person mentorships?
JJ: I handle a lot of mentorships online. Access is so important, and I’m grateful to be in touch with people from across the country. Still, virtual mentorships are different than those that happen in-person. They’re more business-like, more detailed, and I do almost all of my editorial work this way. Ideally, there’s room for conversation too, so that I can answer questions that come up, and there can be open discussion and pushback. Pre-COVID, Knife | Fork | Book was the perfect place for this kind of thing – there was always dialogue around poetry happening in that space. But since quarantine I’ve incorporated an increasing amount of phone calls and video chats into my practise. 
ML: What advice do you have for first-time poets building their debut collection?
JJ: Be patient. That sounds cliché, but it’s so important. Share your work and look for honest feedback. It can be hard to accept edits if you’ve never had others assess your poems, but outside eyes are essential. They can tell you if your work is operating in the way that you intend it to, and if you haven’t considered intent, they can help expand the headspace around your writing.
Most importantly though, don’t publish just because you can. Hoard your work. Question it. Think your first book through in a way that will help it make an impact. Not all presses publish good poetry, and it’s important to know who does.

ML: What excites you most when reading and editing work by an emerging poet?
JJ: An original voice. Poems that work in an unconventional way – not experimental per se, but verse charged with the spark of invention. It’s easy to write to fit in, but I’m looking for those who write to stand out. 
If you’ve ever seen a publisher ask for a cover letter that describes how an incoming manuscript fits their booklist and thought ‘I don’t want my work to fit,’ then I’m interested in reading your work.

Interviewed by Margo LaPierre
The Arc Award of Awesomeness
November's prompt is: Fall Back

Write a poem that explores the idea(s) that the words fall bring to mind whether it be the season of Fall or looking back or changing time. We want to read what the words “fall back” evoke for you. The November AAoA will be judged by Nancy Jo Cullen.

The deadline is November 30, 2020, 11:59 p.m. EST. Submission fee is $2 per poem. More details here
Congratulations to September's winner of the AAoA, Joanna Drummond, for the poem "Dorothy & Grace." The winning poem will soon be posted on our website. 

Congrats also to honourable mention IAN MARTIN for the poems "WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE" and "single use." 
We are accepting submissions for October's prompt (Speech) until October 31. Take your shot at half the cash and a vintage doo-dad! 
Congratulations to the winner of the 2020 Archibald Lampman Award, Ben Ladouceur, for his second collection Mad Long Emotion (Toronto: Coach House Books, 2019)! 

He was selected by a jury of Lucas Crawford, Robin Richardson, and Douglas Walbourne-Gough. Here’s what they had to say about Mad Long Emotion:

This collection is brimming with lines full of deft, subtle music, practically vibrating with resonant meaning, yet the language is deceivingly colloquial: “If I pedal too fast my bike sings a song about brokenness.” These poems are vulnerable without sentimentality, unafraid of the simply joy of being “on my second coffee and a bus and I love the whole world.” Ladouceur’s irrepressible energy, unstinting attention to the seemingly minute details of his environment, and his loving care of the bodies that populate the collection will keep readers engaged from start to finish. We feel a happy long thrill to have this chance to recognize Mad Long Emotion as the winner of the 2019 Archibald Lampman Prize for these reasons.

Congratulations to the winner of the 2020 Diana Brebner Prize winner, Karen Massey, and to honourable mention Dessa Bayrock

This year the prize was judged by Susan Musgrave, who selected “Mary Oliver in the Hereafter” by Karen Massey for the $500 grand prize; Dessa Bayrock’s “What Do You See” was named the honourable mention for this year’s prize.

Here’s what Susan Musgrave had to say about “Mary Oliver in the Hereafter”:

First of all, I loved the title. And then I loved the first line. And then…anon. I like the Big Philosophical Questions the poem asks but doesn’t answer. That’s what a good poem will do. It doesn’t give you any answers, just unanswerable questions. I also love the way the poem uses abstractions — hope, joy — but renders them concrete. By the time I get to the last line, I feel lighter, the grass smells sweeter.

Here’s what Susan Musgrave had to say about “What Do You See”:

Isn’t this the perfect poem for our time, on this battered and bartered planet? The poem contains the rhythm of trains, one line pulling through to the station of the next. And then — I think of the song — Crash this Train — the poem enters other dimensions, and we willingly follow. At least I did. In this instance the whole poem is a question, an unanswerable one. Perhaps there are no answers in these times, except for poetry.

Karen and Dessa’s poems will appear in an upcoming issue of Arc.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020, 8:30 p.m. EST: Blink and You'll Miss Us: A Series of Micro-film poems presented by the Toronto International Festival of Authors. Poems by Aria Aber.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020, 6 p.m. EST: Poetry Reading ft. Liam Galway, Beatriz Hausner, Mathew Henderson and Paul Vermeersch, presented by the Toronto International Festival of Authors. 

Friday, October 30, 2020, 3:30 p.m. EST: Poetry of Love & Loss: Lorna Crozier presented by the Toronto International Festival of Authors. 
Wednesday, November 18, 2020, 7:30 p.m. EST: Riverbed Reading Series: iteration three ft. Lillian Yvonne-Bertram, Stedmond Pardy & Unsociably High. Open mic registration opens Nov 16.
The Ideate Review: October 31
Room Magazine: October 31
Long Con Magazine (Ekphrasis): October 31
CAROUSEL (Theme: Indigenous + Afrofuturisms): October 31
Cream City Review: November 1
Granta Magazine: November 11
Bywords: November 15 
Crab Creek Review: November 15
Hamilton Arts & Letters (Theme: Science): November 15
Carte Blanche: November 17
Crannog Magazine: November 30
The Fiddlehead: November 30
River Heron Review: November 30 
FreeFall Review: November 30 

Our submissions period is now open until December 31. Send us your poems!
"SOMETIMES POETICISM IS FETISHISM: Begging All Writers to Remember that Poetry is Not an Inherent Good so Please Be Mindful of the Politics of Your Poetics (Why, Who and How Do You Make Poetic Subjects?) as Poetry Can Very Easily Become Intensely Objectifying" —@sannareya

Ambivalent Inheritance:
Mercedes Eng's my yt mama

Review by Carolyn Nakagawa

Calling something a “myth” or a “legend” is misleadingly aggrandizing; it elevates while also implying that the thing being elevated is something other than the truth. In my yt mama, Mercedes Eng emphasizes mythologization’s long history as a colonial tool, and turns its destabilizing logic onto her own personal origin story as the “non-yt” daughter of a “yt mama” born in Medicine Hat. Read full review here
Psst… We are always looking for reviews of poetry collections — we pay $80 CAD for a brief 500-word review. Ask about our advanced reading copies available for review and send us a pitch! Email
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