Page 1

Daniel Meehan Haya Sardar

7, 13, 46 8, 21

Isobel Carnegie


Victoria Butler


T Williams

12, 35

Marina Klimenko


Hyerin Jeong


Sana Mohsin


Cheryl Cheung


Iris Deng


Reilly Knowles

24, 25

Isidora Alteljevic


Carmella Gray-Cosgrove


Alexander Buchanan


Robin McLachlen


Gerard Sarnat




Mahaila Smith


Isidro C


Peggy Roffey

42, 44, 48

Editors-in-Chief Marco Istasy Thomas Sider Editorial Board Katrina Agbayani Claire Ellis Lucy Faria Marissa Lee Veronika Zabelle Nayir Design Editor David Mekhaiel Cover Illustration Mia Carnemi

Spring 2020 Acta Victoriana CXLIV II Acta Victoriana 150 Charles St W, rm. 152 Toronto, Ontario M5S 1K9 Acta Victoriana, est. 1878, is the literary journal of Victoria College in the University of Toronto. It is produced and published on the traditional lands of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, the Haudenosaunee, the Anishnaabe and the Wendat, as well as other Nations that have been subject to historical erasure. As members of the literary community on campus, we recognize the need to be part of the collective conversation required for the ongoing process of decolonization and reconciliation.

Letters from the Editors It is wise to be wary of the rage of Caliban upon seeing his face in the looking-glass.

Marco Istasy

About a month before writing this note, in quarantine at home with my family, I decided to read Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice, the final book I was supposed to read (I read about 30 pages) in my first-year English survey. It seemed like a good choice: it’s short; I had forgotten much of the plot; and, with graduation approaching, going back and completing past syllabi seemed to give a sentimental finality to my undergrad. Once I caught up to where my first-year self left off, however, I began to wonder if choosing Mann had anything to do with the novella’s length, or with nostalgia for my degree. In the novella, Mann’s protagonist, Aschenbach, remains in Venice during a cholera epidemic, a detail that I—one month into the COVID-19 outbreak in North America—had completely, at least consciously, forgotten. Did I really want a quick read? Did I really care about ENG150 that much? Or did I subconsciously choose a work that would help me reconcile my feelings toward the pandemic with descriptions of a relatable experience? Though some of the works in this collection were explicitly written about the virus, many are open to interpretation. To read “December 5th, 2019,” a poem co-written over social media, as exemplary of how poets can still collaborate during a pandemic, would be fitting, but anachronistic. Further, many of the poems and stories in this collection return us to life before the pandemic, all of which, to me, point to a highlighted escapism from our current lives. I am starting to believe that a pandemic leads us to prioritize reader response. But is it fair that we look for the pandemic in everything we see, or that we see certain works as pandemic writings? This issue of Acta is not simply a product of our time, and yet I still wonder if many of us will be able to read without a “pandemic” lens. In his introduction to Death in Venice, Michael Cunningham discusses the different feelings evoked from different translations of Mann’s work: “I couldn’t tell whether the difference resided in the new version or in my own mind…the books we read at twenty are not the books we read at fifty.”* Similarly, Issue 144.2, in particular, strikes me as one that I must return to, in order to see just how the pandemic reveals, as Cunningham puts it, the “mutability of literature” (xii).

Thomas Sider * Cunningham, Michael. Introduction. Death in Venice, by Thomas Mann, and Michael Henry Heim, Harper Collins, 2004, pp. v-xvii.


An Apology Daniel Meehan A refraction off the watery window pane and the warmth of your bedsheets which were always warm until we ceased inhabiting them, left them to cool, and forgot their fibre-count. The arrogance in our eyes betrays the error of our ways when we question if we ever knew the finer points of each other’s hobbies. But let’s tell each other what we are: I am simply the custodian of all the bloodstained messes you leave on the butcher’s floor.

You are only the shepherd of my eyes who draws my consciousness away from a self-inflicted curiosity.

And we are bluebirds circling overhead, calling out in anguish to join each other. We are, in some ways, equal-pressure twins expecting love and telepathic thoughts. Now we come out of the locked rooms and embrace, feeling sorry that we can’t stop apologizing.


On Borderline Personality Disorder Haya Sardar Today has been a mellow day. Emerging from a 6PM siesta, I rub the sleep out of my droopy eyes. I accidentally left my contacts in, and they tempt me to drift back into an undisturbed slumber. I decide on the contrary, however. Today is my day for books and poetry. I walk down the stairs, feet soft and gentle like a house cat’s. I’ve always had the power to enter a room unnoticed. It is quiet, and I decide to turn the kettle on, preparing myself a pot of lavender tea. The kettle boils slowly. It leaves me enough time alone with my thoughts. I think about work, my mind drifting into a swirl of colourful smoothies. In fact, I just bought almond butter to bring a bit of sweetness to my dark mornings. I am a night person, which perplexes me because of how much I dislike being with my own thoughts. Quickly, I think about a silly mistake I made in front of a coworker. It makes me wince. The sound of the kettle grows louder. I start thinking back to a lot of other times I felt embarrassed, and inevitably my mind rests on my most recent lover. The thought of him triggers a sinking feeling in my chest, like a drop of food colour staining the clear water of my insides.


Quickly, I redirect my thoughts to the back of the tea label. Unfortunately, this doesn’t help because I recall the last time he and I met. We shared a pot of lavender tea, and I proceeded to sit on his lap, like a house cat. I shut my eyes, attempting to squeeze the image of his hand on my thigh out of my mind. All this does is bring his eyes, creases and all, to the forefront of my eyelids. The kettle still grows louder, and it creates a backdrop of auditory mesh, a haziness that somehow troubles and alerts. I think about the difficulty, of being abandoned and having to drink a pot of tea alone. Devoid of caffeine, I drink it solely to replace his warmth. It is dusk in the summertime, and I know the moon will be out soon. I try to name three constellations I hope to see tonight, to focus on anything other than the sound of half-boiled water, but I always rest on one in particular: Leo. Click. The kettle turns off. I pour the water in and let it brew, noticing an uncomfortable ringing in my ears. I tell myself I should be used to this. I find the silence that follows chaos hurts more than the mania itself.


Tattered Isobel Carnegie I shake bits of dried skin off my duvet and practice not sounding desperate practice asking for communication so I don’t spend three and a half hours thinking she loves me less when she’s in Virginia. Practice breathing - four in - hold for seven - out for eight Practice thinking of myself in the future tense. This one is the hardest. I tore apart the bottom of my feet so every step hurts just a little, practice little bits of harm that only sabotage my ability to walk my average 8,502 steps a day. Practice walking somewhere other than my own hallways and the same old brain pathways to fixation. I have been practicing taking my medication every day at 9am to retrace those pathways. I’m not sure this is exactly what Zoloft does, maybe I’m remodelling. My brain needs a HDTV level renovation. Practicing is easier to accomplish than anything else. The word becomes malformed, into whatever I need it to look like depending on the day. I am practicing caring for myself, but that becomes misshapen too.


A. Victoria Butler “...love was the slow accumulation of moments in which I was not subjected to harm.” Brandon Taylor I am always wrong in the passenger seat of your car. On the floor of the apartment. With my legs around your shoulders. You reserve your sympathy for the unfaithful. On the sidewalk you raise your voice to say I know nothing about pain. Sure. I am an expert in fear. In holding rage in my hands and pretending it is a gift. Thoughtful. There is always a sorry waiting for me in the morning, wrapped in clean counters and smelling like fresh coffee. The way you repent soaks my heart in guilt. It is an honour to forgive you. The fault all lies in your past, in your pills, in your father. Your promises to change fade in the sun. I don’t even notice until you’re gone. That’s when the colour comes back.


Poem I wrote instead of asking you if you needed help cleaning your apartment T Williams i think you deserve a love poem, which i have never written. when you read corinthians to me, at the party where the polaroid that is stuck up on your wall was taken, you didn’t seem that interested, though i was so intent to listen. the picture holds the two of us in place, above your desk, together. i like to take up space, you know, in beds and heads, wherever. and you put us up among your postcards, your prints. there’s us beside mary and the unicorn, like stars like constellations formed by nothing but proximity. and often the space we share feels large. i want to pounce on it, collapse it, my head onto your shoulder. is it obvious that i desire something more, that touch means more than lack of distance? and do you know that you fulfill me perfectly sometimes, that you burn bright to me, that you make me rhyme? but what is best is the unexpressed that passes us between: a word like ‘friend’, a quiet ‘romance’, a place in space and time. i try to grasp at what we have, like i’m unsatisfied. you deserve a love poem, but i don’t think that we need it. a poem is for yearning, but i yearn for what we are: a pair of people, slightly joined, not apart, not stars.


For No One in Particular Daniel Meehan As the final chords of the wind die, I see a face, older than spring showers, younger than fire, Sitting across from me. You I saw residing there in the cool and redundant embrace of melancholy weather, alone and stripped of all condolences, your face caught freezing in the dim light. And I lay there longing for red clay, responding only to the lapping calls of lakes. Those trees you saw on fatefully dull mornings when once we sang in the night, and laughed at its subtle, ruddy face, provided stark contrast to the street lights. While far away stood tired cities with planetary shoulders fixed in rapture on the icy dawn. And we wept for your father who was now so removed from the liquid embrace you dreamed to encircle him with. Often now I feel those winds fly again and hope you know that for you I would renounce the clay and lie long in the bitter cold of lazy afternoons. Although you may never hear these words shouted into thin morning mist, I still write them in the hope that you remember me in dew drop stars.


Love Dyes Marina Klimenko To fill the time, she decided to read Anna Karenina again, this time, in Russian. That was on Monday. “I’m going to read Anna Karenina in Russian,” she’d said. “I didn’t know you knew Russian,” he’d said. “I speak it. And I know a solid half of the alphabet. I took a course.” On Monday, he had found this charming. In the evening, after they’d had wine, she read parts of Anna Karenina out loud to him. He liked it, though he could not understand the words. It reminded him of how, when they’d first moved into the top floor of their walkup, they’d lie naked on the roof and listened to people talking in the street below. Just lie and listened to the pitch of people’s voices, her black hair a spiderweb on the concrete roof. That was about a year after they’d gotten together, two years after his divorce. He had not left his wife for her; he had left his first wife for another woman who later left him for another man. On Tuesday, she had set an alarm for seven-thirty. “Why would you need to get up at seven-thirty?” he asked, holding his pillow close. Their bedroom was small and had only one nightstand. To turn off her alarm, she’d had to reach over him, her loose hair tickling his nose. “I read a biography of a man once,” she said, turning the alarm off. “A Russian dissident, who said that, when you’re in jail, you have to have a routine. You have to plan your days. He was in jail for nine years. He was arrested three months after he got married and, for those nine years, his wife, who lived in New York, sat out across from the UN every day until he was released. Every day. For nine years.” “So, you’re planning on getting up at seven-thirty every day?” “Not on Saturday. Or Sunday.” She got out of bed and walked to the dresser, picked up a comb and sat back down on her side of the bed. He closed his eyes and slept. When he woke up, she was gone, though he could see a long dark hair on her pillow and hear movement in the kitchen. He pinched the hair and wrapped it around his index finger.


He got up and showered around noon. He turned on his work computer to check his email but didn’t get around to it. Instead, he found an article on France. The Eiffel Tower was closed. In Israel, you were only allowed to walk your dog within a hundred meters of your house. In India, a man had died. No news about anywhere in Africa. In China, the Apple store was open, and governments were saying they’d avoided a second wave. “I don’t care,” she said when he told her. “I don’t intend to read the news until all of this is over.” “How will you know it’s all over if you don’t read the news?” “I’ll look out the window.” He went back into the bedroom to check his work email. “Come have dinner,” she said. It was four o’clock. “So, what did you do today?” he asked. It seemed a weird question, they’d been together all day. “I got up,” she said, “at seven-thirty. Showered. Washed my hair. Do you think Allen will agree to take me next week? My roots are growing out.” Allen was her hairdresser. She had been going to Allen to get her hair colored since she had found her first gray hair, fifteen years ago. “They’ve shut down all non-essential businesses,” he said. “I hate it when my roots show. It makes me feel about onehundred-years old. I doubt Allen’s actually staying closed.” “They’ve shut down all non-essential businesses.” “Anyway,” she said. “I showered. I wrote a proposal for work, returned emails, did an at- home Pilates video, made lunch, watched a tutorial on how to make a casserole, made a casserole. Now I think I’ll read a bit.” “I think I’ll go to bed,” he said. Later, he saw her looking at herself in the hall mirror, tilting her chin down so she could see the top of her head, the thin gray line starting to creep down the blackness of her hair. When she noticed him, she turned away and smiled harshly. “Do you want me to read to you?” She held up Anna Karenina. “Not tonight,” he said. Now, it was Wednesday. He didn’t open his eyes when he heard her alarm. Even when he was awake, he stayed in bed and balanced his computer on his knees. In China, a single father had


been forcefully hospitalized so his son, who had cerebral palsy, was left without a caretaker and died. In Russia, the president announced a one-week holiday. More people than ever were applying for employment insurance. “Do you want some lunch?” she said, turning on the lights in the bedroom. “I watched a tutorial on how to make a frittata. And I made whole-wheat bruschetta.” “I’m not hungry,” he said. “How long do you think this will last?” she asked. “I don’t know.” “Do you think Allen would let me come to her house? I could bring my own dye.” “I’ll have some of the frittata,” he said. “Do you want to eat now?” she asked. “Or would you rather shower first? Maybe shave? Brush your hair?” He squeezed past her and sat down at the kitchen table. For dinner, on Wednesday, she made gnocchi. “I’m not hungry,” he said. “I watched a thing online. It’s supposed to be really good.” “I can’t eat gnocchi.” She was standing in the kitchen with a plate in her hand. Her hair was clipped up at the back, but a few bits had fallen out and stuck to the sweat on her neck. “It’s good,” she said. “It’s yummy.” “I don’t want to get fucking fat,” he said. She stood still for a moment then put the plate down. “Fine,” she said. “Fine.” She ate some of the gnocchi herself then sat in the living room and read Anna Karenina out loud. She could hear him in the bedroom, typing. He hit the spacebar too hard. The neighbors could probably hear him. She tried to read but he distracted her, so she read louder. She heard him get up and shut the bedroom door. “You sure you don’t feel like shaving today?” she said on Thursday. “I did the laundry. You could have a shower, shave, change your shirt. Maybe even your pants.” “I’m fine,” he said. “Fine,” she said. She had come into the bedroom with a basket of clothes, put it down by the closet, then stood in the doorway braiding her hair. He was in bed with his laptop.


“I think I’ll go for a walk,” she said, “Allen just sent me a video of how to make a mask out of tissues and tape. I don’t think she’ll be in the mood for house calls.” “Where are you going to walk? Everything’s closed.” “The pharmacy’s open. I was thinking I’d buy some home dye and then you could touch up my roots. That should be okay, until all of this is over.” “Why bother? There’s no one to see you.” “I see me.” “Do you have any idea how ridiculous you sound?” “I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m sorry, I’m not as comfortable as you with sleeping until noon every day, wearing the same clothes in bed as I do at dinner, and spending hours reading questionable news about who died where.” “It’s called staying informed.” “It’s called losing your shit. Newsflash: the death toll is always going to grow. Unless someone pulls a Jesus and resurrects. That’s not news. You’re just driving yourself crazy.” “I can’t talk to you when you’re like this.” “I’ll be back in an hour,” she said. “Wear a mask,” he said. He watched her slip on her coat, tie a scarf. He saw her squint at her reflection then put on a hat with a pompom on it. After she’d left, he got back into bed and powered up his computer, but he wasn’t in the mood, so he turned it off and went to sleep. When he woke up, it was Friday. She was standing in front of the hall mirror brushing her hair. He said good morning and went into the bathroom. There were black hairs in the sink, on the edge of the bathtub, on the white towels. He had never noticed before how much she shed. When he came out, he found her sitting in the living room reading Anna Karenina. Two boxes of black hair dye stood on the coffee table. “Do you know why people bought up so much toilet paper when this all started?” he asked. “Because people are crazy.”


“Because, when the outbreak first started, someone suggested that everyone carry around a roll of toilet paper and just rip off a square whenever they needed to touch a door handle or a subway poll. You know? Instead of wearing gloves.” “Can you dye my hair today? When you’re done with…” she let her voice trail off. “Put newspaper down in the bathroom,” he said, “I’ll be right there.” She slipped past him and into the bathroom. He picked up the boxes of dye. Standing by the kitchen sink, he unpacked the boxes and held the little tubes of color in his palms. They were heavier than he had expected. He punctured one tube and squeezed it. The color came out thick and slow, like toothpaste. He emptied all four tubes into the sink then turned the water on. She came into the kitchen. “What—” “What’s for lunch?” He said. “Why did you do that?” He turned, slid past her, and went into the bedroom. She followed and stood in the doorway. “I can’t live like this,” she said. “I can’t go on living like this. I’ll have to throw myself in front of a train. Are trains still running?” “A one-hundred-and-one-year old man in Italy got sick, then recovered. He’s home with his family now.” “I’m going to go out and buy new dye tomorrow.” “Sweden banned all gatherings over fifty-people. Finally.” “I’m going out to buy new dye right now.” He got off the bed and walked towards her. She stepped backwards into the hallway. He came up to the threshold and shut the bedroom door. Later, he heard her come back from the pharmacy. He heard her go into the kitchen and read Anna Karenina out loud to herself. On Saturday, they did not speak. On Sunday, they said sorry. On Monday, they got to do it all, all over again.


Arabica Beans Hyerin Jeong The coffee down Fifth St. West was romantic yet cremated. I didn’t expect anything less for such a democratic setting. Yet, it was comforting being pumped full of bone broth, and carrot guts in the Canadian spring blizzard. Pull me down, please. These beans were cruel. Their acidic sweat corroded my stomach to a salty crisp till my bile retched up and I rocketed myself from Kensington to the stubborn seas of East Atlanta. But, I embraced the beans whole. They soothed me. Thank you. I was deluded to thinking I was reinvigorated with an organic touch when it was just a clumsy masking of saggy eyelids, and carnal rampages across posh staircases. It was a true manipulation of myself. How nauseating it was, yet warm


Spring Diary Sana Mohsin In Urdu there are specific names to describe the intensity with which it rains: ‫دھار‬ ‫ موسال‬for rain so heavy it beats against windows and wakes you up too early; ‫ بوندا باندی‬for rain light enough that the leaves of peonies hang just a little low. / In March it is not quite hot enough to turn the ceiling fan on, so we sleep with the curtains drawn and windows open, breathing in the light breeze that comes after a morning shower. / I know it is spring because the faded petals on the ground have bloomed again on the branches; sumbal tree red as a pomegranate, red as a bleeding knee. / I pick a flower and press it between the pages of a novel, thin veins embedded: red onto cream- white. I first learnt of flower-pressing in a storybook; stories about Jane and Tom in the English countryside, never Fatima and Khalid in a Punjabi city. Overcast skies of London more familiar than the stifling humidity of Lahore. / I hold onto fistfuls of pulled flower petals, crumbling rust found years after between pages of an old novel.


Lavender Haya Sardar essential oil, essence, scents, lotion, tea, i drink tea from teapots, pour over more water it’s too strong, soft, 1 pound is $28.99 on Amazon, but $28.99 is 16.87 pounds, what a steal, syrup, maple or sugar, London fogs, they must measure those in pounds, purple, pain, heather, the weather was gloomy, it was raining, jam & jelly, the blood pooled like jelly, buds, leaves, green, pain, body wash, loofah, shampoo, i got shampoo in my eyes, it smelled dazzling, it takes me 1 hour to finish a teacup, 1 hour until it is both in and on top of my body, honey, candle, chamomile, bouquet from a lover long dissolved, roll on, relaaax, incense, leda and the swan, he was a libra, sachets, sashay away, chocolate, sanitizer, nothing too clinical, we are trying to mask the scent of chemicals, bath bomb, moisturizer, pillow spray, i’m feeling sleepy...

Apple Garamond Cheryl Cheung

Marks Iris Deng

A Sort of Emptiness Reilly Knowles

The Quiet Grounds Reilly Knowles

increments Isidora Alteljevic


The Painter Carmella Gray-Cosgrove Jasmine lives with a painter. He sequesters himself in his room and when he comes out, a haze of paint fumes trails behind him. His breath reeks of booze and cigarettes. His name is Lionel and his room is full of brightly painted canvases, a wreckage of empty wine bottles and cigarette butts. His paintings are stacked against the walls, piled high on the dresser, waiting under the bed. In the late nineties his work was exhibited at the National Gallery in Ottawa and then in the early two-thousands at the Venice Bienniale. It was even said that his art captured the zeitgeist of the new millennium. Now he paints wild fauvist portraits and still-lifes in frenetic shades. “French violet and indigo,” he says in his thick Quebecois accent. “Chartreuse and mauve.” He rolls the r’s in chartreuse lethargically. Lionel is in his late sixties and his skin is tan and wrinkled. Dirty stonewash jeans hang from a leather belt off bony hips. He always has a cigarette hanging out of his mouth and little lines pucker around his eyes, gather in pleats on his brow. His room is two rooms divided by French doors—a solarium off the front where he paints and his bedroom at the back, directly across the hall from Jasmine’s. His door is always closed. He has lived in the apartment for decades and the living room is a midden of paint pallets, dried tubes of oil paint, empty containers of oil medium, sketch pads, art books cracking at the spine. Jasmine keeps all her belongings in her tiny bedroom. She doesn’t dare put her books on the bookshelves in the hall or hang her pictures on the walls because Lionel is very particular. She doesn’t even clean lest it throw off his workday, ruin his groove. If a reference book or paintbrush is moved he is derailed for weeks. “Osti de câlisse,” he says. “I lost my muse.” Then the drinking begins in earnest. He hides wine in paper coffee cups, puts vodka in his thermos, and she doesn’t notice he’s drunk until she gets close enough to smell it oozing from his pores. Before she moved in with Lionel, Jasmine lived with two roommates, Shelley and Michel. In the months leading up to her departure, three unpleasant incidents took place: First Michel brought home an armchair he had found on the curb and lugged up Parc Avenue one painful step at a time. As it turned out, the chair had been discarded due to bedbugs, whose subsequent infiltration of their apartment was comprehensive. Jasmine coated the floor of her room with diatomaceous earth and spent her spare


time steam cleaning. The bites were unbearable. Rows of swollen, bleeding pockmarks up her back and down her legs. Second, in the loneliness and isolation brought on by the infestation, Jasmine started sleeping with Shelley, which she found to be awkward and unsatisfying as Shelley was not, in fact, particularly interested in gay sex. On the last night they spent together, Jasmine stole into her room after Michel had gone to bed. Shelley was working at her desk and Jasmine crawled under it. As she slid a hand between her thighs, over a row of inflamed bedbug bites, slipped her tongue where it was warm, Shelley let out a moan, then pushed her away. “I don’t like head,” she said, which was news to Jasmine. Shelley handed her a strap on and they moved to the bed. There were no hands or mouths, there was not even eye contact, just plastic against skin. Jasmine crept out once Shelley was asleep. Late that same night, in a frenzy of post coital insomnia and anxiety, Jasmine ate an entire brick of Michel’s cheese. It was an aged cheddar, the type that is so good it has crystals in it. She ate the whole brick standing in the cold light of the open fridge door. When she googled cheddar crystals, the internet said they were Calcium Lactate and that cheddar with those crystals is of the highest quality. Michel was angry about the cheese and Shelley was angry about Jasmine sneaking out of her room, or maybe just about the sex. Instead of dealing with it, Jasmine moved out. Jasmine’s room in the new apartment is painted coral pink, there is no chance she will sleep with Lionel, who doesn’t cook, leaving no quality cheeses to tempt her. Jasmine’s bedroom is next to the front door of the apartment and her window faces onto the front deck. Rusting wrought iron and a steep set of stairs lead down to the street. One night Lionel comes home so plastered that he can’t get in. Jasmine wakes to the faint sound of scraping metal. In the morning she notices scratch marks on the front door, next to the deadbolt, where Lionel’s key had repeatedly missed its mark. Like in a nightmare when you can’t quite get where you’re going. Lionel has a daughter, Sabine. She is stunning and blond, collected, and always dressed business-casual in a two-piece or tweed with skin coloured nylons, a big purse and delicate lipstick. Powder-pink or lacy-peach. She comes in the early morning with an air of derision. “You live in a slum,” Jasmine overhears her saying from behind the bedroom door. “Grow up!” The following day Sabine brings groceries and puts them in the fridge without saying hello to her dad. Jasmine eats the food, but does not worry as Lionel is only interested in liquids.


Sabine was born in Alma, in the Saguenay valley, and her mother died in a car crash when she was in kindergarten. Teel Camaro crumpled into a twist of metal around the telephone pole in front of the house. Alma was a mill town, and until the quiet revolution Francophones couldn’t get decent work. Lionel was often unemployed but when Sabine was born on a sunny afternoon in 1972 he got a job at the cégep teaching art. He had his first show at a gallery in Quebec City when she was three. Muted realist paintings. A throwback to early modernism. When Sabine’s mother died, Lionel started to drink. He developed a taste for vodka. Vodka was something he could drink at any time of the day, not just in the evening, because he could add vodka to anything. When he drank, colours took on new life. A nose no longer needed to be the colour of skin. A nose could be turquoise. A cheek could be burnt orange. But a broken heart is always broken and one day, while Lionel watched Sabine stamping in a puddle, picking up an earthworm, he decided they would move to Montreal. Jasmine wakes to the high-pitched beep of her alarm clock. She turns it off and wishes there were another body in bed to curl around. She would give anything not to go to work. It is spring and when she squints her eyes open, the sun is bright through the window even though it’s early. She drags herself to sitting and then to her feet, pulling on a t-shirt, hoodie and shorts. She opens her bedroom door and finds herself looking into Lionel’s room, door ajar across the narrow hall. She is surprised to see the door open. She is surprised to see a small fire at the foot of his bed. She pulls the door to her room shut behind her and closes her eyes tightly. When she looks again, Lionel has appeared from the kitchen with an unlit cigarette dangling from his lips, a coffee carafe full of water in hand. Without a word he walks into his room and pours the water over the flames. Nothing happens. Jasmine tells him his bed is on fire. “Bien, je sais,” says Lionel. “It’s on fire,” Jasmine repeats. Lionel has wine stains in the corners of his lips. Jasmine has always planned for a fire. As a child she would coordinate escape routes while she fell asleep. She would plan how to rescue the hamster and the dog, which precious belongings she would grab on exiting, which window would be best to crawl out of. She knows about not opening the door if the doorknob is hot. She knows about stop, drop, and roll. And she knows that when her grandma lit her mantelpiece on fire she panicked and fanned the flames. Jasmine knows not to fan the flames. She knows to stay calm.


“Your bed is on fire,” she says again. Her voice is loud, it shakes. She runs to the living room, grabs blankets and throws them on the bed. She says she thinks they can smother it. She searches the kitchen for a fire extinguisher. Lionel trails after her. She pulls coats off the hook by the door and lays them on the flames. “I can’t find a fire extinguisher,” she says. “I think it’s smothered,” says Lionel. They are standing shoulder to shoulder looking down at the bed, the pile of blankets and clothes are smoking. Grey trails of smoke leak through buttonholes and lapels, out of pockets and up through hoods. Then, as if buoyed by their audience, the flames jump through the fabric, spring from the crack between the mattress and the wall. Jasmine bends to look under the frame. Lionel’s canvases are alight. A fauvist inferno beneath the bed. “Shit,” she says. Jasmine dials 9-1-1 as Lionel heaps clothes on the fire, still trying to smother it, but feeding it instead. Blue and red flames eat through the mattress. When Jasmine stands up straight her head is engulfed in smoke. Oil paint fumes waft through the room. She covers her mouth with her arm, her eyes are watering. Lionel stares into the heat, his face is pale. The bed is a pyre and the flames lash the ceiling. “The paintings,” says Lionel. “They’ll be fine.” “There’s so much smoke.” “The fire truck’s coming.” “The paintings,” he says again. “We need to get out,” says Jasmine. Lionel lunges forward, reaches for a canvas on top of the dresser. A woman’s face in cyan, fuchsia and cobalt blue. The walls are catching, the ceiling is on fire. Jasmine grabs Lionel from behind, wrestles him out of the room. When Lionel met Sabine’s mother, Marie-Claire, she was wearing bell bottoms and a sheer mustard coloured tank top. She was sketching with charcoal down by the river on a folding easel propped on a picnic table and her drawings were terrible. But her copper hair glistened in the sun, she had freckles on her shoulders and on her eyelids and when he looked at her lips he was weak with desire. She didn’t shave her armpits, which he thought was sexy, if slightly embarrassing. After she gave birth to Sabine she wanted to go back to work. She was an orderly in the geriatric ward of the hospital, but Lionel said no, even though he didn’t have a job and they were broke until he got the gig at the cégep.


Marie-Claire was not made to be a housewife. She didn’t clean. She liked to smoke pot and sketch. She would boil the blossoms from the honeysuckle in the garden just to smell the sweetness in the house. She spent an entire unemployment cheque on a fur coat from the thrift store instead of buying groceries. Marie-Claire loved French music and would belt out the words to Edith Piaf or Charles Aznavour while she watered the basil. Lionel would rant about the mess around the house. They would fight and he would slam the door to his studio and paint. But when they remembered they were in love it was like the first day they met. They would laugh and kiss as Sabine danced in the glow of their happiness. After Marie-Claire died, when Lionel painted, he painted the colours from those times. His reds were the reds of her lips, his oranges, golds and browns were the glint of the sun on her skin, his pinks were her navel, his greens were her eyes. Jasmine drags Lionel onto the front deck. They are coughing, Jasmine is dizzy. Their feet are bare on the cast iron and as they look at Lionel’s window they hear it cracking against the heat. Lionel scrabbles down the steps as smoke licks up the side of the building. Jasmine races to the apartment above to warn the neighbours. She hammers on their door and they answer in their pyjamas. She stands on the front deck as they come down the steps, one carrying his computer tower, the other a banker’s box. “Five years of research,” she hears him saying. Jasmine gazes through her bedroom window at the laptop she bought with all her savings. She takes her sweater off, wraps it around her fist, smashes the single pane window with a punch, and then a second punch, and crawls back in. The door is closed leading to the hall and she launches her things onto the front deck. Computer, keys, wallet. Smoke is seeping in around the doorframe and she can hear the sirens. “The paintings,” Lionel calls up from the sidewalk. Jasmine climbs out again through the window. “Forget the paintings,” she yells. There is a sharp pop and Lionel’s window shatters. Glinting shards of glass rain on the concrete below as the apartment takes a deep breath. A pause. Then an incendiary exhale. Flames leap up the stucco, igniting everything they touch. Neighbours spill into the street. The fire trucks pull in. Jasmine rushes down the steps clutching her belongings, the cast iron treads dig into the flesh of her soles. When she looks back over her shoulder, the apartment lets out a high-pitched screech as all the colours of Lionel’s paintings fight in the flames, a frenzy of clashing tones pouring out the window, melting in the heat.


Sputnik Planitia Alexander Buchanan I don’t think I’ll ever go back to Sputnik Planitia Because of the cold And Jezero Crater will eventually be crowded So I’ll float Down toward the blue Because I mean, I can’t find a new latitude Without a cause And I can’t daydream Of kitesurfing over the bay Without thinking of you next to it Slamming all of our beers And down the pike Is our love It’s warm like a bath But thick like rum And I want to plaster all Of your limbs to the hull Because you smell so great Like the south of my province Plus, my daydreams In orbit of you Are better


Corona Robin McLachlen That I see at all is with God’s eyes; What I hear is with her ears of her voice And all I speak is of her voice. That I am at all is in that one life, Divisible, And then not, again. What inflicts the meanest thing Happens also within me. I am the shadow And the wave. My hands, all hands, are healer’s hands, Touching air of her skin, Skin of her breath, And the feet below my feet, Tongue of taste pressed to mine. Meeting. That I have come to you, With you, As a matter of fact and of moment. That you touch me with my child’s probing hands, Speak in my mother’s and lover’s voice And in mine. That what is here Is Here, Is Her, Is you, Dear, As we feel it.


CONTAGION HONEYMOONS Gerard Sarnat 1. REALITIES ii. NOT SO MUCH ALTERNATE REALITY d. all you out there what is it like on the streets of New York (near New Rochelle), Chicago, San Francisco, Paris, Berlin (after Merkel predicted 70% incidence), etcetera? consensus respond: I spend most of my time now under the bed. 2. HAIKU i. Post Michigan Primary Results Titanic fleabag hotel deck chairs exited on bad Sanders news one homeless couple took drastic measures to flee Coronavirus. Hubby’s tired fruit mold grew while her turd-colored goo oozed through dumpster filth. iii. Namaste Instead of shaking yours, hand on heart, we both choose better eye contact.


December 5th, 2019: A Chronicle T Williams & Sel T’s Foreword: We wrote this in the last hour of December 5th, 2019. My thendate had hurt my feelings and I was having trouble going to sleep. I was in one of those bad moods when you want to cry but can’t. Sel and I post on the same 3rd generation social media platform and made this together. Apart from Sel’s first post, the thread received no interaction from anyone but us and someone called “cuttlefish,” who favorited a few of the lines. Sel’s Foreword: On December 5th 2019, I was one week removed from one of the strangest intimacies of my life and two weeks away from my father’s surgery. All the detail I’ll give is that a shared moment presaged my grim fascination with Dallas as a city of love, and that my father is still in recovery. I believed in love then and I believe in it now. 1st thread: Sel: it’s love that’s in me dude. it’s like a big snake, or a claw foot tub T: Love that is ice frozen to wood Sel: love that is quiet lowing T: Love that’s an artery and a place Sel: love that’s putting out new buttery shoots T: Love that is an egg being fried and an unused gift Sel: love that’s hot polyethylene and tattered recipe T: Love that’s an invitation and a time Sel: love that’s a happily missed appointment T: (Oh that’s a good one) Love that’s a clean kitchen and a made bed Sel: love that’s sleeping soundly


T: Love that’s getting up in the night or a sobbing sound Sel: love that’s a sobbing night and a getting up sound T: Love that boards a plane, love that steals small things Sel: love that’s a finger in the flowerpot, love that’s widening T: Love that’s like the smell of breeze, love that’s behind a curtain Sel: love around the corner T: Love sitting in a small rocking chair Sel: love low to the ground, opaque, no weight T: Love ties knots and stretches them. Love melts a bar of chocolate. Sel: (oh wow) love tipped up in the air. love that’s about T: Love that’s lost a favorite hat and love with the packaging intact Sel: love in every town and cave, love you need echolocation to see T: Love in the stem of a lily pad, underwater. Love tucked beneath the sole of a shoe Sel: love taped down. love on a hot griddle. love flaking, silver, like an almond T: Love separated into oil and water, unstirred peanut butter. Love with a chain. Love with a cat’s purr and a stamp of approval. 2nd thread: T: Guys I gotta sleep Sel: can continue writing our poem tomorrow, good night!


Flick Off! Mahaila Smith Brushing my teeth with my own blood. I DO floss. Fluorescent lobster clicking his claws like a game save station, see him everywhere. Eating popcorn off the Cineplex floor. Hoping the claw machine will pick me up and give me a hug. Imagine the wall swallowing me flat, painted against paint. A movie poster hands me a snigger a cigar, and a bouquet of snowdrops. I don’t like playing in the snow alone. Have you seen the storm outside? I know we end in winter, like static noise snowcrash. Bloodshot eyes pressing the accelerator down dark icerain swerving between lanes between red tail lights, headlights, ahead. Floating cliche in a snow globe I sink in the bathtub, and look up for the moon: A glass lamp cover on the ceiling. Towel off, downstairs for a midnight snack. Open the fridge door looking for film bottles and jam. Peel an orange, soft and bloody. Kiss Big Monkey goodnight. I spill high school swim team ribbons on the floor and cover them with wrapping paper


Fever chills fall back on BAD habits. Hide lying in the dark, drinking to dream. Frequent nosebleeds, I’m Pinocchio. Wish I was real, instead of a photo album on shuffle. Moving in 2D over captions into petal wedding scenes and too hot funerals. Posing in multilevel parking lots and Ikea bathrooms. Run to the back cover and out to a metal booth where I’m sitting with a giant sloth, Chinese news playing from the server’s phone speaker and Coronation Street, silent, subtitled on the front-facing TV. The sloth is full and pushes his bowl of soup towards me. I can barely finish my own noodles, but I didn’t want to embarrass him, so I poured his bowl into my backpack.


Lost in a Field in Manitoba Isidro C Matt sometimes got the urge to park his car on the edge of some beat up old road and breathe in the raw essence of his own country. He doesn’t usually go through with it. Most days he drives past, staring straight ahead, trying to ignore the inexplicable tug that wants to see him lying flat on his back in a wildflower field and forgetting about his father and his brother, and whatever his brother does to cope these days. He just wants to lie there and sink into the dirt, fall asleep forever until the grasses and roots just build atop him and he joins the mulch. He pulls to the side of the road and cranks down his window until he can fill his lungs with the clean cold of nothingness of pre-frost air. There’s a stroke of clear clear blue above him, endless in a way a man could get lost in and he does, barely making out individual little splotches of white with how his eyes have become waterlogged. He slams the door on his way out. He wades through the grass. Its waist deep in some places and he can barely believe that in only a few weeks they would be covered in equally high snow, a cold that would slip up his fingers until it settled into his chest, dangerous in how comfortable it felt. Like the cold air fit there permanently somewhere in the deep recesses of his lungs, like it could filter into his veins and never leave. His fingers trace the edges of slowly fading petals until they, too, become a part of him. But then he sits amongst the wide expanse of everycoloured light that seems to spread across eternally until he lays down to join them, dizzy with the thought of miles upon miles of untouched land that has long since started to feel like yet another extension of himself. He doesn’t know when it started being like this. When did he start feeling the urge to just get lost? He couldn’t quite place what the urge was, couldn’t quite think of what to describe it as. He just wishes the world could pause the way it feels like it does when he inhales the scent of pre-snow petrichor or stares too long at the sky or too far across a field. The way he wishes it did when he was panicked about the man he’s supposed to call his father. He wants the slow calm of an ocean breeze brushing through his hair, ruffling him as it does the grass surrounding him now, smoothing down the rough edges he’s formed from too many years of fighting with everyone and himself. He fishes for a word to describe it. Calm, he


supposes, like the grounding sensation beneath his back now, the pillowing effect that comes with laying in grasses as tall as a child. He likes the descriptor, he decides, finding the way it rolls off his tongue a comfort. Or perhaps he is merely comforted by the fact that there is no one around to hear it. He takes a breath, feels the way it cracks in his throat. He got lost here once. Not this exact place but in a world so vast it is inevitable that pockets exist that are so like this in texture, in comfort. He had run through and felt the sun on his skin as he does now. Basked in it and let it seep through the layers until he felt a little less like dying. He had been too busy to notice it as a child. Had been too busy running away from his dad to pick out the details of the space he’d run into. When he’d heard his father’s voice, he’d dropped into the wheat of the field and held his breath. But the man had not followed him. And by the time he’d truly processed how very suddenly alone he was, he had fallen asleep to the reassuring constant of a whistling chill. There were days when he ran off to cry out things he didn’t want others worrying about until he’d washed out the raw wound he sulked in. Days when he fought the urge and lost, when he sank amongst the flowers and the wheat and the snow and stared into all that blue. He’s perhaps never left it, or perhaps it never leaves him. He closes his eyes but it’s there again. Blue without end from one coast to another. He feels smothered without it, Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal all too claustrophobic for him to stand them too long. Which is why he drives and gets lost and ends up here. Somewhere primordial. He says that word aloud too, primordial. Feels the way it forms on his lips and marvels at the nuances in intonation that are often lost in situations where absolute silence is not a possibility. Marvels at the sharpness of any word spoken in a vacuum of sounds like this. In the absence of sound, the slightly unsettling reminder of his heartbeat in his ears returns, a slow whoosh that he conveniently forgets amongst the city noise, but which he is forced to focus upon now. He takes a breath through his nose and its as shaky as it is grounding; the cold numbs out whatever had started to build in his chest. When he breathes again, deeper this time, he lets that sound drown out the rush of his own blood in his ears. He lets it cover up whatever chunks of his childhood still cling to him until it’s just him. Him, this wildflower field, and the numbness in his lungs.


But what was once in his lungs is now clogging his throat, thick and slow in a way the cold doesn’t quite clear out. He should not be cold, not really. He’d tended to his ever-cycling cast of bruises and bumps with snow straight to his skin until it had frozen almost to the point of pain itself. It was the only time he’d ever let himself cry. Matt still doesn’t cry unless he’s out here, unless his shit of a father decides to give him something to cry about. Even then, he waits, not wanting to give his father the satisfaction. So he cries when he’s alone with his thoughts and the prairie grass. He doesn’t always know what he cries about anymore. He just cries, really. He forces his eyes to focus on the light purple veins of a swaying flower, sees the force of the sun and the contrast of petals, delicate and seasonal. He’s laid here and watched generations of the blooms come and die off and now he feels as ancient as the land he lies on, has felt ancient in a way that only kids who learn diplomacy through trial-by-fire truly do. He was barely in grade school when he started fighting the tug to be out here. He wonders, pillowed by the grasses once more and half tempted to just drift off, wonders why he fights it at all. He could just fall asleep. He could just fall asleep for a long time, let the prairie wind carve channels through his bones, let the seemingly unending root system build its way into his chest, his skull, until he’s inextricable from the only place he’s felt okay. Maybe then, for once, he’d feel alright. He feels the selfdeprecation rise in his chest like a laugh. But he doesn’t let it out. He doesn’t want to bother his beautiful neighbours. When was the last time you came here? He wiped at his eyes with the back of his hand and sat up to keep from choking on the things that sat at the back of his neck. Slowly he extracted himself from the grip of his surroundings. He fought the tug of swaying grasses, the comfort of numbing air, the scent of his own tears, and the sound of nothing. He fought the steady, reassuring calm of hibernation. Fought the endless blue above him even as he walked to his car, half tempted to get lost in it still and never return. He’d come back, this much he knew. He’d drive down this road again and inexplicably stop. He’d lay in the comforting arms of a field that had been there to witness his worst. Maybe he’d cry, cathartic and ugly, in a way even his therapist hadn’t really seen him. For now he cranks his car window back up, starts the ignition, and drives past. Matt stares straight ahead.


Basement 1955 Peggy Roffey Coal Man lugs black sacks from truck to house bent back, face grim brother admires the truck little sister shrinks away I see Coal Man’s eyes, sapphire in the soot his freight all glitter and clatter tumbles down our chute back up the opening dark dust swirls October to May, arms freckled and taut Dad shovels turns pitches hefting “an-thra-cite” we scramble after renegade lumps, he laughs twice a day every day before work and after loads it through that low grated door to feed our hungry fire his side of the basement dim and toasty house hums warm hot baths steam in the world above


Mom’s side of the basement brighter Monday morning under the window wringer-washer gleams long dark hair bundled up safe she feeds and pulls the whites the colours sure-handed body bending rising rote and rhythmic slim fingers happier at the piano chafe raw in the suds at day’s end with lotion she soothes them like babies face pale and quiet at the wash there and not there her lips move with nothing I can hear rippling glass washboard faintly green catches the sun, makes spaces in my child-mind for “o-pal” “o-pa-que.”


Immaculate Conception December 8 1961 Peggy Roffey Protestant kids stuck in school as she walks the long fence between St. Helen’s and Rosedale Public Catholic school dark frozen acres of yard emptied by a Holy Day dry snow blows its edge of ice facing into it, she lugs her treasure twenty-eight quarters and six nickels eleven years old and free for the day treading two miles alone to Woolworth’s Christmas presents for all a wooden button for Dad’s wool vest, decals for John’s model airplane a colouring book for Mary Lu and a spinning top for Mikey next year she’ll need more coins for the next baby on the way but a great dream draws her pearl earrings for Mom — two cents a night for setting the table doing the dishes all year long


imagines their pure glow against Mom’s dark hair and oh, the hope — a happy face at last Christmas morning worth twelve of the quarters just enough left for a hotdog no fries to warm her on the long walk back past Protestant kids still in class gifts hidden, she slips out of the house escapes the squabbling racket and scolding Mom’s voice fractious and sharp heads for those ice patches scoured smooth behind St. Helen’s under gray and sinking skies alone in the bitter wind no voice but the hollow knock of blades on ice she skates and skates and skates


View of a Crow Daniel Meehan the oiled chrism sacrament of dark october midnight touching a rooftop sky blazing silent

in the opaque veil

a rolling toy marble of green and brown twitching turning undulating through its roving search for prey now finding millions to tear with hook blades blackened by the blood of many sanctifies nostrils smoking and jaws closing over vivacious fieldmice clinging to breath seeing brush strokes in obsidian with power coursing through


lifting into coal-black nighttime terrors cutting through negative space with mournful delusions of grandeur the silky fan of infinite winds controlling slicked-back currents

of thinly sliced air pressure systems

now perched on dusky branches with needles and razor blades furrowing the ancient living flesh

shrieking with arcane delight


unceremonious unclean mad with envy and taking to the air for the final rite of dismal autumn


Nana’s Knitting Peggy Roffey She was grim, our Nana and a terrible knitter Every December when we were young a box arrived from Toronto Mom put it on the floor in the linen closet behind the burgundy Electrolux We looked at the sealed box every day ‘til Christmas Mom, Irish Catholic spark to Anglican Nana’s Cornish flint rolled her eyes, sighed, gave a short sniff when we opened the box at last thin mitts, flaccid at the wrists, soon to be soaked and shrivelled on the school radiator wonky sweaters that hung uneven with brittle buttons that inevitably snapped in the wringer washer All of them pale blue. We have a picture me at nine standing in the middle of the dirt road (left unpaved ‘til more houses were thrown up as our subdivision ate the woods) in knee-patched corduroys and one of those sagging blue sweaters


I know where that sweater had been – climbing around half-built houses making forts in the dwindling woods hanging on a branch when I got too hot balled up for a pillow in the bedroom of our leaf house You’d think Nana’s knitting would be tight but it wasn’t! all loose-weave – maybe she got more yardage per ball that way ... or maybe she relaxed as she fingered the wool and out came the sweaters ready for action all wrong and just right warm enough when need be and something you didn’t have to worry about.

Contributors Daniel Meehan is a 23 year old poet who was born in Etobicoke, Ontario and raised in Milton. He became interested in poetry after reading Walt Whitman, Ted Hughes, and Dylan Thomas, and started writing his own poems soon after. His first poem appears in Soliloquies Anthology issue 24.2 in April 2020. Daniel is currently studying creative writing and publishing at Sheridan College in Mississauga, Ontario. Haya Sardar is an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto. She is currently in her third and final year, enrolled in an economics major alongside english and political science minors. Haya rejects the established notion of specialisation in academia, and thus immerses herself in a variety of academic and creative interests outside her programs, including poetry, philosophy, and astronomy. She believes that poetry and prose finds language’s sweet spot between being a liberator and a limitation on meaning and expression. She hopes that her poetry is accessible and relatable to the student, the woman, the POC, the mentally ill, and the romantics. Haya will be entering the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto next year. Isobel Carnegie is a fourth year student with a Specialist in English and a Minor in Sexual Diversity studies. She is the Editor in Chief of Victoria College’s Goose Fiction and the poetry editor for UC’s The Gargoyle. Her work has previously been published in Acta Victoriana and the UC Review. She loves spring. Victoria Butler is a writer and artist from Barrie, ON. She is the Poet Laureate of the aforementioned hometown and is the first woman to hold the position. She is the Editor-in-Chief of The Northern Appeal, a not-for-profit literary journal that publishes artwork and writing from creatives in Simcoe County. She lives above a coffee shop with her cat, Zelda. The T in T Williams stands for “Turn”, they are a 3rd year student majoring in English and minoring in Philosophy and Finnish studies. They write short stories, poems, and tabletop role playing games. They spend most of their time on the 3 Rs: ruminating, reading, and relaxing. You can find more of their writing at (dreamsandfevers.blogspot.com/) Marina Klimenko is a graduate student at the University of Toronto and writer of realistic fiction. Her work engages with themes of home and grapples with the question of why we so often misunderstand the people closest to us. Her short stories have been published internationally both online and in print. She currently resides in Toronto.

Hyerin Jeong is a third year physiology student at the University of Toronto. Although she is majoring in science, she has been reading poetry ever since sixth grade. It was only recently through an advanced poetry class with Professor Albert Moritz that she began finally writing her own poems. Inspired by the raw ingenuity of beat poets like Allen Ginsberg and the elegance of T.S. Eliot, Hyerin’s poetry ranges thematically from politics to mental health with surrealist imagery. Sana Mohsin (@filmvillian) is an undergrad at the University of Toronto, studying Economics and English. She loves nature imagery and tea, and hopes to make a career in reading and writing. Her prose has appeared in Half a Grapefruit magazine, RIC Journal, and the UC Review, amongst others. You can follow her @filmvillian on Twitter. Cheryl Cheung is a third year student majoring in political science with minors in visual studies and American studies. As an artist, she enjoys sharing narratives about daily life using a minimalistic arrangement of colors and shapes. In her spare time, Cheryl enjoys skiing, bread making, and sewing sleeping bags for her dog, Haidyn. She is based in Toronto and the Bay Area. Iris Deng is a visual storyteller born and raised by Caribbean waters surrounding the beautiful island of Jamaica. She now resides in Toronto, Canada with her sketchbook and an insatiable curiosity for human behaviour. Her work has been featured in The Varsity, The Strand, Demo Magazine and various independent projects. She recently graduated from the University of Toronto studying behavioural science. Reilly Knowles is a recent graduate of Western University’s Honours Bachelor of Fine Arts program, with a Specialisation in Studio Arts. He splits his time between London and Milton, ON. Knowles has exhibited work since 2015, showing in such venues as Artlab Gallery (London, ON), Good Sport (London, ON), and Holcim Gallery (Milton, ON). Knowles is a recipient of the Gray Creative Arts Award in Visual Arts, the Mackie Cryderman Award for Excellence in Visual Arts, and the Kate and Robert Taylor Scholarship in Visual Arts, among others. Isidora Alteljevic graduated from the University of Toronto in 2019 with a BA in Book and Media Studies and French Language and Literature. She’s currently pursuing a certificate in Digital Strategy and Communications Management. When she’s not making art, she can be found studying, working part-time, or watching Indie horror films.

Carmella Gray-Cosgrove is an emerging writer from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, currently based in St. John’s, NL. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Prism, Broken Pencil online, the Antigonish Review, Freefall and elsewhere. She is the 2020 Writer in Residence for Riddle Fence magazine and is currently working on a collection of short stories. Alexander Buchanan is a poet living in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. His work has been featured in NoD Magazine, Little River Literary Magazine, Ghost City Review, Wax Poetry and Art, Montreal Writes Literary Magazine, and Sheri-D Wilson’s upcoming Poet Laureate Legacy Project entitled “YYC POP”. Robin McLachlen is the author of ‘Body Electric’ (www.periplumresurrected. com/body-electric). He is a JD candidate in the University of Ottawa’s English common law program. He lives in Kanata with his wife and 2 children. Gerard Sarnat won the Poetry in the Arts First Place Award plus the Dorfman Prize, and has been nominated for a handful of recent Pushcarts plus Best of the Net Awards. Gerry is widely published in academic-related journals (e.g., University Chicago, Stanford, Oberlin, Brown, Columbia, Harvard, Pomona, Johns Hopkins, Wesleyan, Penn, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Baltimore, University of San Francisco) plus national (e.g., Gargoyle, Main Street Rag, New Delta Review, MiPOesias, American Journal Of Poetry, Clementine, pamplemousse, Red Wheelbarrow, Deluge, Poetry Quarterly, Tipton Journal, Hypnopomp, Free State Review, Poetry Circle, Poets And War, Wordpeace, Cliterature, Qommunicate, Indolent Books, Snapdragon, Pandemonium Press, Boston Literary Magazine, Montana Mouthful, Arkansas Review, Texas Review, San Antonio Review, Brooklyn Review, pacificREVIEW, San Francisco Magazine, The Los Angeles Review, Fiction Southeast and The New York Times) and international publications (e.g., Review Berlin, Voices Israel, Foreign Lit, New Ulster, Transnational, Southbank, Wellington Street Review). He’s authored the collections Homeless Chronicles (2010), Disputes (2012), 17s (2014), Melting the Ice King (2016). Gerry is a physician who’s built and staffed clinics for the marginalized as well as a Stanford professor and healthcare CEO. Currently he is devoting energy/ resources to deal with climate change justice. Gerry’s been married since 1969 with three kids plus six grandsons, and is looking forward to future granddaughters. Sel is a poster first, a writer second, a podcaster third, and a fool fourth. They work for a nonprofit somewhere in New England, and spend their time researching everyday magic as political praxis, studying the Situationist International, hosting the Haha Yeah podcast, and slow cooking for one.

Mahaila Smith is a young writer from Ottawa, studying to dig. Her poems can be found in the Hart House Review, the Trinity Review, UC Review, and in Half a Grapefruit (hgfmag.com) Isidro C has been writing for about as long as he’s known English, trying to document the stories he’s heard and the experiences he’s had as his family moved from coast to coast. When not panicking in prairie fields, Isidro can be found fretting over his graduate school submissions, the health of his cats, and whether or not he locked his apartment on the way out. Despite being in his 20s and at the cusp of a totally irrelevant career, he still wants to be an astronaut when he grows up. Peggy Roffey is a poet living in London Ontario, born in Niagara Falls, raised in Sarnia. In her early career, she published two poetry chapbooks, From The Medley (1978) and, in 1980, The Renga (along with Patrick Deane, Sheila McColm, and David White). From the Medley, published under a former married name, Dragisic, was among the first four publications by Brick Books, then known as Nairn Press. Her Master’s thesis was the first study of Canadian poet Colleen Thibaudeau’s work, Colleen Thibaudeau’s Big Sea Vision and her PhD thesis was Technology and Reverence: George Grant and Dennis Lee. After an interesting and too-busy career in health care, she taught leadership to academic and administrative leaders at The University of Western Ontario and, for 15 years, also taught Renaissance Literature, Shakespeare, and Canadian Literature in the Department of English. She is part of a lively poetry workshop group in London that includes published poets Julie Berry, John B. Lee, John Tyndale, and David White.

Acta Victoriana, Volume 144, Issue 2 This edition consists of 200 numbered copies printed at Coach House Press in August of 2020. It was designed by David Mekhaiel and published with funding from the Victoria University Students’ Administrative Council. Type is set in Baskerville.

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