Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Fiddlehead Summer Fiction Issue Launches this Thursday!

We're pleased to be launching our summer fiction issue at Westminster Books (445 King Street) this Thursday, July 30, at 7pm with our friends at Qwerty, who are celebrating their new joint issue with Echolocation. There will be short readings from both magazines.

The event is free and open to all!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Books Received — What are You Excited to Read?

The Fiddlehead office receives a lot of books from Canadian publishers from coast to coast to coast to consider for book reviews. Not every book can be reviewed, but we hope that this little bit of exposure will bring attention to these wonderful books. And we hope it sparks some conversation about Canadian literature. So, readers, go to the comment field below (or to Facebook or Twitter) and tell us what you're most looking forward to reading!

Happy reading!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Poetry & Techno: May Their Futures Meet at the Beat? (Part 3 of 3)

In my mind, the palate for both techno and poetry is a massive suggestion for the two to fuse together and to create on a blank canvas. I foresee an opportunity, both in content and cultural relevance, to create something that is beautiful and authentic in both of these mediums coming together. They are both emotional experiences that could synthesize into a superpower of an emotional medium. The possibilities for both musical recordings, and themed live performances seem to all lead to bringing listeners, viewers, and experiencers into the same euphoric state.

Imagine an event when these two mediums are fused together. The best contemporary voices of poetry read to an atmospheric beat, creating a tonal narrative throughout the duration of an evening, the beats are then mixed at lower levels of volume, letting people either dance, or converse, until a new groove kicks in, and a new poet is left to capture your attention. Imagine the same images and sounds paratactically existing in the minds of everyone in the room, unbroken, for an entire evening. From a perspective of someone who deeply cares about each of these cultures, it would be interesting to see how the blending of the two could change, and strengthen, the future of each in a way that invites an audience from all facets of life.

I know this possibly seems like a medium that has been tried and failed, or even that music mixed with poetry isn’t necessarily a new idea, (there are current voices, such as Kate Tempest, who have an interesting blend of music, poetry, and rap) but my main proposal is that we continue to think about the medium of poetry in different ways in order to create a ‘scene’ that is inclusive (and fun) for communities at large. Much like the claims of Deresiewicz, we should begin to have a multi-faceted approach to the promotion of poetry, in order to expand the target audience that we aim for.

And if something like this fails? We know we still have The Fiddlehead, or UNB’s English program, or one of the many other great similar institutions across Canada that will continue to foster the state of poetry moving forward. Poetry itself will continue to thrive and strengthen, waiting for its time to be of primary cultural importance, once more; I have faith that this time will soon come, which, in my mind, makes it all well worth the risk.

Steven Suntres is The Fiddlehead's editorial assistant, a member of QWERTY's editoral board, and a UNB graduate student.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Poetry & Techno: May Their Futures Meet at the Beat? (Part 2 of 3)

With electronic music’s meteoric rise over the past decade, the culture infiltrated the mainstream conscious, which came with its faults but ultimately benefited the culture as a whole. Techno became a cultural force taking over the lifestyles of the party demographics all over the continent. This, of course, created a backlash from the people that had cherished this subculture prior to its rise in popularity; and there has been an ongoing discourse for the last several years discussing the pros and cons of this rise in popularity. The purists felt like what they had so close to their hearts for so long was being mass-marketed and bastardized to inflate the bank account of a plutocrat. However, the people that actively listen to and study the music of this culture would never let themselves be dissuaded from it due to a couple of muscles bulging through neon tank tops who seem like they may be inauthentic. If anything, a presence of a culture in the mainstream conscious acts as a gateway to the heart of that culture. The cherished ‘underground’ scenes in places like Toronto swelled with popularity due to the mainstream success of ‘electro.’ A wider audience for a culture that you love feeds into the future of that culture.

Techno’s mainstage appearance provides an opportunity for poetry to marry into a wealthy family, and when the two are to meet, it will be a match of symphonic proportions. In a techno piece, there is a complex sonic narrative made from layering of sounds to create a general tone. These sounds are repetitive and build on each other, replaying in your mind like a Zen coan as you are left to ride the groove set out for you and ponder whatever comes to your mind in the process. The experience of discovering how a complex sound structure affects your thought can truly be a mind-freeing, meditative experience. This is similar to how I read the poetry that I love: You read the rhythm of the lines, you fully grasp the images and thoughts that are put on the page, accented by the tone and the rhythm of the language, and you then take those evoked emotions with you; they become a part of your mind as you then perceive the world in a different way.

The way a techno song is constructed is similar to that of a poem. A music producer sits down with his computer and produces a certain emotion, or state of mind, and he constructs a sequence of evocative emotions that will get his listener to a state of complete inexplicable realization. At times, certain sounds, or ‘samples’—auditory allusions—are used, though they are not always overt and recognizable (which would make any modernist proud). Techno is also true to its form, or the ‘groove,’ a traditional four-four (four-on-the-floor) beat that governs every track, a blank page, left for creative minds to accent with rhythms and make their own. What other medium is so intertwined with rhythm, form, and musicality? Poetry does much the same thing to the human mind. It is a carefully constructed mix of sounds and images sparking up in the readers mind in order to create an emotion. Poetry, even in it’s freest of forms, is a slave to its rhythm and its musicality.

However, there is one main difference between the two: Techno songs are created to be mixed into each other. A professional techno DJ’s craft is focused on creating an unbroken, cohesive atmosphere throughout an entire evening. There are highs and lows, and changes of tempo, but the music doesn’t stop.

Steven Suntres is The Fiddlehead's editorial assistant, a member of QWERTY's editoral board, and a UNB graduate student.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Poetry & Techno: May Their Futures Meet at the Beat? (Part 1 of 3)

Poetry and techno are like two of my mind’s closest friends that continually flirt with each other to the point that I’m confused as to why they don’t just quit playing around and start dating.  For a while, I thought this was something that only made sense to me, and that I should just keep my opinions to myself; however, when I came across an article in The Atlantic, titled "The Death of the Artist” by William Deresiewicz, I began to think that this is a match that is more plausible than I first thought it would be in a real world setting. Thoughts were immediately sparked about the state of poetry today, and how we can increase poetry’s popularity moving forward. Perhaps it is time we focus more on the promotion of poetry through a multitude of mediums. Perhaps it is time we focus more on creating an experience for an audience to enjoy as a whole.

William Deresiewicz provides a convincing portrait on the state of the artist in today’s society, which makes me believe that we must change the way we see poetry in order to provide our due diligence to the art form itself. Deresiewicz highlights the emergence of the “creative entrepreneur,” stating the conception of the artist of old would focus as much time as possible on one discipline, one craft—he backs this up by saying that it is difficult to name an artist of old who has achieved a level of distinction in more than one genre (a few obvious exceptions, notwithstanding). Deresiewicz goes on to state that, today, an artist must operate with the versatility of a small business, the art itself is important, but of equal importance is the general experience or lifestyle your art creates—your value is found in the amount of people that are willing to fully subscribe to what your artistic brand represents. An artist is expected to perform on a multitude of levels in order to gain any relevance in the endless stream of online discourse, not only must they be a professional at their craft, but they also must develop a strong online presence. Of course, the risk of making a transition to this sort of medium comes with the sacrifice of the artist’s vision and authenticity: when more attention is focused on the promotion of your art, the art is surely to suffer. However, for a culture to stay alive in an age where audiences have a rapid influx of information perpetually at their disposal, changes must be made in order to fully serve the culture in question; if we are not aiming to strengthen the popularity of poetry, we are doing it the greatest disservice.

Much has been said about the state of contemporary literature, and the chasm that lies between the literature of the academy and the kind of pop-lit that is content outside of the realm of scholarship. Poetry today seems to reside in academia, and is having difficulty entering mainstream consciousness as it lay alone on the page. This proves that both readership and employment is sparse in the field. As a poet, I shudder when I think about life after scholarship. Words of comfort from professors are usually quite vague (“Oh you can get a job in ‘communications’ after you graduate” or those ubiquitous “government jobs” we keep hearing about). Dana Goia discusses the progression of poetry through the ages and how it has reached a subcultural status that is shielded and stunted by the "intelligentsia." This double-edged sword creates a paradox that is causing poetry to thrive within itself, there is a passionate group of poets, academics, and enthusiasts that create a stable base support of poetry—and there are many exciting poets in the scene today—but the question still remains as to how this audience can be expanded.

I agree that an artistic community is key to preserving the culture that we all adore, but in light of Deresiewicz’s thoughts, if we care so much about this culture, why don’t we try to promote it on a greater level? Why don’t we try and enter the mainstream consciousness and reside with the obsessive nature of the internet. Why not experiment and find a way to permeate into a subcultural tsunami that shows up on the feeds of social media? Essentially, why don’t we try to appease a greater audience? My suggestion involves Deresiewicz’s claims about the multitude of levels with which the artist should now work; a mixing of mediums is imperative to the survival of poetry. We must increase the market value of poetry, feed and foster the interest to create a greater market and audience—a greater stage—to showcase the tremendous amount of poetic talent that is found in Canada today.

Perhaps it is time for Poetry to meet Techno. There is a technical parallel running between these two subcultures that make them more similar than you may initially think.

Look for part 2 on Tuesday!
Steven Suntres is The Fiddlehead's editorial assistant, a member of QWERTY's editoral board, and a UNB graduate student.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Summer 2015 all-fiction is now available!

The Fiddlehead summer fiction issue is now available, and it’s the perfect read whether you’re lounging at the beach or sitting in a hammock. Spend those long, lazy, hazy days of summer, luxuriating in the fictional worlds of the fifteen stories gathered here. We have stories from established national and international writers such as Daniel Woodrell, D.R. MacDonald, and Kathy Page and stories from up-and-comers such as Charlie Fiset, Rod Moody-Corbett, and Mona’a Malik. And that's just some of the authors found within!

The fictional worlds found in the pages of this summer issue are something to behold! One minute, you’re in the Ozarks with a son who exacts revenge on a cruel and compassionless father, and the next will find you attending a South Asian Canadian wedding in suburban Toronto or hanging out in a bar in Barcelona. So sit back, relax, take a sip of your cool drink and prepare for a sizzling read.

Want to check out an excerpt or two from this issue? You find some on the current issue page on The Fiddlehead's website.