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"Mon pays c'est l'hiver" at Lackington's Magazine

I’m very pleased to announce that the first issue of Lackington’s Magazine (the Twitter feed of which my Glaswegian keeps insisting on reading as Lackington’s Mog) is now up, with a mission-establishing editorial by Ranylt Richildis and containing stories by Kate Heartfield, Alex Dally MacFarlane, Helen Marshall, Christine Miscioni, Rose Lemberg, Erik Amundsen, and myself, with cover art by MANDEM and story illustrations by Carrion House, Paula Friedlander, Teresa Tunaley, Alfred Klosterman, Stacey Nguyen, Galen Dara, and Tomasz Wieja.

It’s a beautifully curated issue; it wanders through graveyards, winter gardens, the delicate heat of orange trees, courts death and floats past it, finds a city on its tentacles, and completes itself in moths, space, and stars. All the stories are online for free, but if you enjoy them you might consider either purchasing the issue or making a Paypal donation. Knowing well the pains and pleasures of publishing things out of pocket, I wish Lackington’s all the best with this venture, and look forward to the next issue!

There are few things more delightful to me than seeing a new magazine stake out a space for itself in what it sees as missing from the market; it’s what Jess and I did with Goblin Fruit, it’s what Rose Lemberg did in establishing Stone Telling, and it’s what I see Lackington’s doing now. As Ranylt says:

This is a space for prose poetry. We’re looking for stylized prose. Not inept purple prose, of course, but controlled and well-crafted wordsmithery that reflects the story, setting, theme, atmosphere, or philosophy it seeks to describe.

Stylized prose can be sparse and simple, diamond-cut like the writing of Ursula K. Le Guin. It can be sumptuous like the writing of Oscar Wilde. It can be epic, archaic, experimental, mythic, rhythmic, and it can be quiet and subtle, too. Story and character are indispensable, but so is wordcraft. We trade in aesthetics, so make us gasp with unexpected words and give us inventive voices, structures, and narratives. Many editors reject heavily stylized prose out of hand. We welcome it.

So: If you write conventional prose — the kind that dominates the marketplace — we’ll turn your story away. This is no reflection on the quality of your language or the story as a whole. We may even love your work. It just doesn’t fit the scope of this project.

My story / prose-poem / thing is called “Mon pays c’est l’hiver,” written mostly while sitting at my sister’s kitchen table, looking out at the winter that prompted many a loving blog post, and thinking about Ottawa. It’s gorgeously illustrated by Paula Friedlander, whose art is, to me, at least part sculpture (most of her work is mixed media and includes hand-cut paper silhouettes), which makes its effortless interplay with text all the more astonishing to me. I definitely want a print of it — there is so much I recognize in it that didn’t even make it out into words. That looks like my family’s house, and the river beyond it, and I don’t know how exactly she found the stars in my head, but there they are.