Katie Stobbart EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Jess Wind ASSOCIATE EDITOR
Dessa Bayrock LITERARY ARTS CURATOR
Aymee Leake VISUAL ARTS CURATOR
LAYOUT & DESIGN
Katie Stobbart Jennifer Hickey CONTRIBUTORS
Dessa Bayrock Laurel Logan Lian McIntyre Meghan Spence Jess Wind Danielle Windecker COVER & FEATURE ART
Photo by Sarah Sovereign Costume by Ally Schuurman Custom hat by Ryan Waechter
Feat. Heather McAlpine Location Rockoâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Diner
14 Kicking ass and playing games: Boardwalk Café two years later
On the cover
Local Riverdale conference, season two
Original acrylic paintings by Megan Spence
Jada Klein on her new single, “My Head”
The Plague and its lessons for our times
Lightness and Laurel Logan’s love poems
Find our past issues at issuu.com/raspberrymagazine
while we update our website.
Finding a voice, making a space, connecting to place by Katie Stobbart Welcome to the first issue of Raspberry to appear both digitally and in print. It’s been a long time coming; we started making this magazine in 2016 to create a space to showcase and explore the Fraser Valley’s unique culture, art, and community life. From the beginning, our goal has been to bring that culture in to the spaces our community inhabits: its galleries and cafés, its offices and waiting rooms, then into your bag and onto your coffee table. As our community grows, our culture responds. The Fraser Valley is full of people working hard to become a place where there are things to do after 5:00; where creative people can connect; where there are spaces to enjoy performances and gather socially; where there’s room for new voices. We’re working to build a place that uniquely represents the people who live, work, and play here. This issue is full of examples: Boardwalk Café, where people don’t just play a game but learn to build community. Riverdale Universe: Season Two, which breaks the mould of the academic conference to make a gathering space for multiple kinds of knowing and sharing. A singer-songwriter and a poet on journeys to find and define their voices close to home. Art that invites us to explore and engage with our local, natural world. We’re so proud to bring you these stories of our community — stories you can now, finally, hold in your hands.
Special thanks to the Government of Canada for support in printing Raspberry, and to the many individuals who contribute their time and resources to this project.
& DARK TEEN DRAMAS Riverdale conference returns for season 2 by Danielle Windecker
Photos by Sarah Sovereign
Riverdale: A Land of Contrasts returns to the Fraser Valley for a second year of binge-worthy pop culture content, now called Riverdale Universe: Season Two. Conference organizers are back at it, planning to expand on last year’s rag-tag lineup which featured a Riverdale-themed Choose Your Own Adventure-style fanfiction (Dessa Bayrock) and Betty and Veronica-inspired body-positive photography (Sarah Sovereign). Created by UFV staff and alumni, the conference includes fan theories, literary readings, multi-media examinations, and more — all centred on the Riverdale universe. This year’s conference also features explorations into The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, a Netflix original show with roots in the Archie Comics publications. Heather McAlpine, Associate Professor of English and one of the main minds behind this off-beat, semi-academic conference, let us know what to expect this time. 7
What we’re doing is not quite academic and not a fan convention, but something weird and strange and fun — fun being the key thing. How will the second year of the conference expand on the discussion that was started in 2018? Riverdale has taken a new direction this season; the new Sabrina series was just released; and the comic books and graphic novels are ongoing, so there’s plenty of fresh material to be mined. Many of us who are planning to give presentations are revising some of the ideas we had last year, while others are looking at totally new things. This year the conference is happening as part of Valley Fest, and it’ll take place on a Wednesday. Last year it was a Sunday, so we’re hoping to get even more students and community members checking out the presentations and getting involved in the discussion.
While the event is intended to be lowbarrier and not exclusive to academics, it’s definitely not your average fan convention. How would you encourage regular Riverdale viewers to attend? Everyone is welcome! Some of the words we’ve used a lot in our website and in most of our conversations about the conference are “semi-academic” and “ragtag,” and I think these quite accurately capture the spirit of the event. What we’re doing is not quite academic and not a fan convention, but something weird and strange and fun — fun being the key thing. The conference really started as a pretext to hang out with other people who watch the show or read the comics and discuss all of our “takes” on this strangely compelling universe. We’re all about adopting a playful approach to questions about culture.
If you’re a fan of the show and you love watching it, the discussions that happen at this conference will almost certainly uncover things you didn’t realize about it previously and you’ll understand and enjoy it that much more. If the show is irritating to you, again, through the discussion you’ll probably come to understand much more deeply why and how it’s irritating to you. Either way it’s bound to be a satisfying experience, and the vibe is very friendly and relaxed. Do you think more fandoms would benefit from academic conferences that encourage critical thinking and offer more than a celebration of the show/game/interest? Absolutely! When you apply those tools of critical thinking and analysis to something, I believe you gain a more profound understanding of the culture
audiences are totally starving for better, more thoughtful, more inclusive representation in our media ... but in many cases weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re let down by representation that actually ends up reinforcing negative stereotypes.
you’re consuming, of your own context, and even of yourself. That kind of thinking and discussion can only deepen your appreciation of the things you watch and read. One of the most interesting fandom experiences I’ve had (aside from last year’s Riverdale conference, of course!) was the Big Lebowksi festival in Louisville, Kentucky, back in 2006. There was an outdoor screening of the film, a cosplay bowling tournament, celebrity appearances, and an academic panel with perspectives from film studies, sociology, literature, and other disciplines. It was a mix of pure, uncritical enjoyment and more thoughtful moments of discussion. The festival was so engaging and multidimensional, I felt like it really expanded my appreciation for the film and for the fandom that has developed around it. I’d love to see more events like that. That’s what I’d hope for our conference, too. Since year one of the Riverdale Conference, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (CAOS) launched on Netflix to both criticism and popular acclaim. What dynamic will it add to the conference to delve into that part of the Riverdale/Archie universe? I’m excited to hear what people have to say about Sabrina because while it’s connected to Riverdale, it centres such a very different sort of main character. Riverdale is a great ensemble cast, but in many ways that world is still really all about Archie. Riverdale complicates his characterization as the classic American teenage boy and picks it apart by giving him much less relevance or agency than he might like. He ends up as sort of the empty centre of that world. But Sabrina tackles a whole other set of questions about gender, class, and power. I’m particularly interested in how CAOS explores what it has historically meant to be a powerful woman, or a woman who doesn’t conform to social expectations. Both shows are also delving into witchcraft and the occult this season, so that might be something presenters touch on also. Viewers and critics alike have raised concerns with CAOS’s portrayals of witchcraft, intersectional feminism, sexuality, and characters of colour. What are your thoughts on how the show handles these important topics? Is it as progressive as originally promised, or just confused? How do you think Riverdale could improve on its portrayal of diversity, whether sexuality, gender orientation, people of colour, or disability? These are very big, very important questions about the shows (as well as the comics and the other products that spin off from that universe) and the ways that they either represent — or don’t — a diverse, realistic, productive picture of society.
these shows, purporting to depict a kind of simulacral “all-American” place are actually filmed here in the fraser valley I don’t want to sound prescriptive here, because my fervent hope is that we address these questions at the conference through the presentations and discussions that happen there (in fact, we name these specific issues in our call for presentations precisely because we think they urgently need talking about). But I will say that I think audiences are totally starving for better, more thoughtful, more inclusive representation in our media. And we get so excited when we’re promised that kind of representation, but in many cases we’re let down by tokenism or representation that actually ends up reinforcing negative stereotypes. This is not to say that I think that’s definitely what’s going on across the board in the Riverdale universe — but I see where people could be frustrated with how the shows tackle race, gender, sexuality, and disability. For example, Jughead is explicitly asexual in the Chip Zdarsky graphic novels, and many folks were disappointed that isn’t how the creators chose to represent him in the show. There also tends to be a lot of promotional material for Riverdale that teases “Choni” (Cheryl and Toni) content,
and more often than not it will end up being a fairly brief encounter between them onscreen. So is the show just paying lip-service to its queer characters? Plenty of shippers are bound to complain their favourite ship gets too little airtime, sure, but Choni fans might feel especially stung by the difference between what’s teased and what ends up included in any given episode. We tackled some of these issues at last year’s conference as well, with a paper reading Archie’s vigilantism against the Black Hood with his “Red Circle” group as an allegory for American white supremacy; we also had photographer Sarah Sovereign’s presentation of her photo essay depicting curvy models as a Betty, Veronica, and Cheryl who are bodypositive and very much above any tussling over Archie or other boys, which offered an instructive contrast to the traditional portrayal of these women in the comic books. We’re hoping for similarly thoughtprovoking material this year as well.
Year one of the conference focused on how Riverdale is a “land of contrasts,” — what are your thoughts on CAOS being filmed largely in an area known as the “Bible Belt?” Well, it certainly is an intriguing contrast, isn’t it? I’m not sure I have any thoughts about it, other than fascination that it’s happening — that these shows, purporting to depict a kind of simulacral “all-American” place are actually filmed here, in Canada, in our very own Fraser Valley, on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples. The way these fictional places get mapped onto places that are so real and familiar to us is super interesting to me. I drove by the Fort Langley Community Hall at one point this summer and I was like, “oh, look, Riverdale Town Hall.” It’s definitely surreal. What type of presentations and discussions should attendees expect this year, and what are you most looking forward to?
The program hasn’t been assembled yet. [At time of interview the conference was still accepting submissions.] We’re hoping for an eclectic mix of semi-academic papers and talks, as well as creative presentations. I can say we ended last year’s conference with the live Choose Your Own Adventurestyle audience-participation fanfiction story presentation, and we’ll be doing that again this year. Dessa Bayrock actually wrote a the fanfic and the audience got to choose the direction the narrative took. Everyone was shouting and cheering; it was so exciting and so much fun. She’s doing that again this year and I’m probably looking forward to that the most. Whether you ship Choni or Bughead, if you’re a Riverdale fan you don’t want to miss this year’s Riverdale conference on March 13th at U-House, on the University of the Fraser Valley campus. The conference is free to attend. Learn more at https:// fraservalleyriverdale.wordpress.com.
Kicking ass & playing games Boardwalk Café two years later By Jess Wind
Photos: Geoff Heith
There was little to suggest anything out of the ordinary at Boardwalk this month. There was no big party or exclusive invite-only event. But then again, that’s not really Darin and Gabby Graham’s style. On Saturday January 26, customers were warmly welcomed as usual, but with a discounted cover — $2 to celebrate two whirlwind years. On top of the milestone, Boardwalk recently won Best New Business from the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce. They were surprised to be nominated and honoured to celebrate local businesses alongside friends such as Singletree Winery and Mt. Lehman Cheese Co., both of whom supply Boardwalk’s menu. “We didn’t set out in business to win awards,” says Darin. “But it is certainly nice to win an award and have some validation for your efforts.” In two years Boardwalk has hosted many events to bring people together, launched tournaments — the trophies for which line the top of the shelves in the store — and provided space for both seasoned gamers and beginners.
The community that games together Boardwalk caters to any kind of gamer, whether you’re in it for deep strategy and hours-long sessions, or to have a good time with friends. And they see the spectrum in their customers.
For those folks, Boardwalk is happy to help you choose a game to suit your group. Whether it’s a small group (they suggest Kingdomino or Azul) or a larger team (Pandemic is usually a popular choice), there’s always something to play. That is, after you’ve knocked over the Jenga tower too many times.
“There’s definitely a pretty broad dichotomy, but what’s really cool is seeing them all in the same space,” says Darin. “However people want to interact with our hobby is great.”
And for those that may not have folks to play with, Boardwalk has partnered with a local meet-up group where, every two weeks, you’re sure to find someone at the table.
Darin figures at least half the folks that come through the door have only ever played Monopoly or The Game of Life. And they love that.
“It’s an open gaming thing. People come in and if they don’t have people to play games with, they can come and join in there,” says Darin.
“A family comes in because they used to have family game night where they played Clue and they come in and they play Clue for half an hour, and are like “okay what can you teach us?” he says. Then he offers them a game like Junk Art. “And they just have a really great experience.”
“We’re able to send people to that, or tell them to come in on those days,” adds Gabby. “It’s nice because, there’s a solid group of at least 12 of them that are always going to be there … that’s been a huge social thing that we’ve really loved.”
Both Darin and Gabby agree that folks who come through the door most often come for the social interaction rather than to track down a specific game.
Cultivating a collection of games
“Whether its families or friends or dates I think the majority of people that come in are using games as a social lubricant,” notes Darin.
When Boardwalk opened, they boasted 250-300 games. Now, two years later, the shelves burst with roughly 400 games (they’ve added more shelves). A new game is added every Friday with a “Fresh Game Friday” promotion on Instagram
and Facebook. Both Darin and Gabby admit they don’t know how to play every game, but that doesn’t really matter. “When you’ve played as many games as we have, learning a new game is pretty easy because you can look at a board and tell “oh this is how this game is going to function,” says Darin. That said, Boardwalk is still conscious about the games they keep on the shelves. Darin seeks opportunities, like the January board game swap put on by Boardgame Warriors, to trade out unpopular games. Some games, he notes, are too complex for the average gamer to pick up and play in one sitting, and others are just bad. “So if we can take 20 games that people don’t play and turn them into ten games that people do play then for us that’s a win,” he explains. “We want people to have the best experience possible. So if we can get rid of bad games so they have greater chance of playing a good game, then that’s a good move.” Board game swaps as a method to connect with other passionate gamers, and to add or cull your collection, are the kinds of community events Boardwalk is interested in for the Valley. “We’re considering what it would look like for us to put on a board game swap
because there is definitely traction for it,” notes Darin. “Last year, the forum [for Boardgame Warriors meet-up] had 1100 posts in it so there’s definitely a market for it.” Board gaming straddles the line between expecting high investment from its players (you’d call them board game geeks) and providing a low-barrier entry to play, making it an increasingly popular hobby and industry. Gone are they days of Milton, Bradley, and the Parker Bros. as the main name in games. The board game industry is like any creative industry. It is home to an intricate network of game writers, artists, publishers, and distributors, and it attempts to navigate monopolization, indie development, and crowdfunding campaigns. While Darin notes they don’t actively seek out independently published games, they often end up with them in the store. “Just because there are a lot of really good games that fly under the radar because they don’t have a big name attached to them,” he says. The political economy of the board game industry is not something Boardwalk comes up against very often, being on the consumer end of the cycle, but he explains the different ways games get noticed, and therefore played.
“What’s interesting to see are the alternate ways to market people have found, primarily Kickstarter,” he explains. “In 2018, there were I think for the first time ever, more successful board game kickstarters than video game kickstarters. So even though there is a monopoly as far as traditional publishing goes for board games, there’s ways to market that people are finding which is great.”
On Valley culture and the culture of play Though Fraser Valley culture may not be as in-your-face as in larger cities to the west, our culture is present in everything we do. Contrary to the stereotype that points to the Fraser Valley as a place where nothing happens, that everyone leaves to have fun, one of the things we do well here is play. “Play is a much bigger part of our lives than in the city,” Gabby says. “I think a lot of people move out here because of the play that they can do. Whether it’s having space to go ride their quads or being able
to go fishing or — I think we fit into the culture of play that exists here.”
Boardwalk’s particular niche: “Not what do we do for nerds and geeks, but how do we make more nerds and geeks?” Fostering that play culture has been a driving force behind Boardwalk since the beginning. Their focus was to create a space that is welcoming, inviting, and unintimidating, one that people can come in and share. Darin and Gabby are both passionate about bringing more play to the community and encouraging folks to engage in what Darin calls “structured joy.” “We get people coming in all the time that don’t look like your typical nerd, that end up playing The Game of Life but then they come in the next time and they come in again, and they come in again, and they
become a board gamer,” explains Darin, zeroing in on Boardwalk’s particular niche: “Not what do we do for nerds and geeks, but how do we make more nerds and geeks?” The benefits of getting more people into gameplay go beyond just having a good time. Games aren’t something we should let ourselves outgrow. As children we play long before we work, but that play can serve us in our adult lives. Whether it’s a sport or board game or just hopscotch, Darin says the skills we take away, “like collaboration, engaging in healthy competition, learning to lose, learning to win, and developing … a strategy, help us to grow and thrive. “These are all things that are vital to a person’s life, and they’re vital to a community,” Darin says. “In order to be a healthy community we need to learn compromise and negotiation. How do we engage in a healthy competition? How do we communicate effectively? How do we compromise? Whether it’s for trading wood for sheep in Catan or arguing about which roads are going to get re-
paved in the City of Abbotsford. Those are important things and I think one of the best ways to learn them is through play.”
Up next for Boardwalk Moving forward, Boardwalk is seeking to fix some of the things they didn’t account for when they initially opened and finding new ways to bring play to the community. First on their list is making the space fully accessible — something they are sad they can’t currently accommodate. The building, located on Montrose Avenue, shares a door with Mad Dogs Source for Sports and has stairs to the interior entrance. They are exploring their options. They are also in the beginning stages of a partnership with local high schools to put games in classrooms. They hope, among other things, this will help them funnel game donations, which they can’t currently take, to folks who will enjoy them. “We were invited to come to Robert Bateman and hang out with a group of students from there, with the intent of
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Whether it’s for trading wood for sheep in Catan or arguing about which roads are going to get re-paved in the City of Abbotsford. Those are important things and I think one of the best ways to learn them is through play. teaching games as way to self-regulate and de-stress,” explains Darin. “That was kind of a bit of an eye-opening experience. We’re still in figuring out the logistics of how that would work, but the goal is to provide games to a school club or classroom.” Despite having many ideas and dreams for the future of the board game café, Darin knows he can’t do everything all at once. “We could do a million good things, we could do a hundred good things, but why don’t we just focus and just do one really great thing. I think we’ve settled on this sponsorship program because it could be a great thing.” Boardwalk Café is open six days a week from the afternoon until well into the evening. Next time you drive through downtown Abbotsford wondering about the nightlife, take a look up Montrose. Chances are the lights are on and they’re ready to play.
Send your original unpublished art to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration in our next issue. Please send three to seven pieces of work in your submission. We reserve the right not to publish work for any reason, or to publish only a selection of submission. Please include a 50- to 75-word biographical statement, and an optional artist statement, maximum 300 words, with your submission. Statements may be edited.
meghan spence I am interested in human experience of nature today. How our environment is used, respected, and valued shapes our relationship with the natural world and our place in it. The words of Khalil Gibran: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hairâ&#x20AC;? reminds us that we do belong in nature; we are not outsiders looking in. I am concerned with reclaiming the sense of belonging. My current project associates familiar landscapes with climate change. I am fascinated in the materiality of the medium. The interaction of the individual strokes of paint of varying viscosity, thickness and mark-making, brings another dimension of complexity to the story. I am working to find a place between form and materiality. I work in acrylics because the fast drying requires me to work quickly and deliberately, without overthinking. The brushwork is obvious and is evidence of movement making the process part of the visual story.
West of West Acrylic on Canvas
Baker View Acrylic on Canvas
Forest for the Trees Acrylic on Canvas
Cold and Clear Acrylic on Canvas
A Day Well Lived Acrylic on Canvas
Finding her sound Jada Klein on her new single & being an artist in the Valley
By Lian McIntyre Jada Klein has been making a name for herself in the Fraser Valley music scene over the last five years. Recently nominated for the fourth time at the Fraser Valley Music Awards, the 17-year-old singer-songwriter is finding her voice with the support of the local community. She released her first single, “Puzzle Piece,” in 2015. In the intervening years she’s focused on school while taking advantage of opportunities to perform in Abbotsford and the Lower Mainland. In 2018, Jada performed at the Raiseberry art and culture gala in June; opened for Winnipeg’s Veneers and Abbotsford’s own Casinos at I-Lead Abby in July; and sang at the Downtown Abbotsford Art and Wine Walk in May and September. Her new single, “My Head,” dropped on January 15, 2019.
Tell me a little bit about “My Head” and how that came about. The song is very new contemporary, pop, modern. I’m super excited about it. This is my first work since “Puzzle Piece,” obviously, and it’s quite a drastic change from that. I feel it really reflects who I am as an artist now. It was a long time ago when “Puzzle Piece” came out, and I didn’t really know my sound yet. So, having something I could be really passionate about and be in the studio and working with the producer every step along the way made the whole difference. I’m so excited about the product. How was it to work with Ryan who has produced artists like Dear Rouge, and Said the Whale? He was absolutely amazing. I went in there and he would just pull something out of thin air. I don’t know how he does it. He’s incredible at what he does. He’s worked with a lot of cool people. I was honoured to work with him. Did you write the song together? I wrote the song, and from that we worked together on different melodies. I went in and it wasn’t finished, so I still had to do some of the bridge and the last couple choruses and hooks. So, he helped me out with the melodies, but lyrics and stuff were 100 percent me. It’s funny, the original track that I had sent him was quite… it was almost like a ballad. It was super sad. When I took it to him, he was like, “Woah, this is a really good idea. I think we could take this to the next level,” because it wasn’t quite up to speed with my genre, or my niche, that I was going for. So, we collaborated on the tempo and style, and after two days [of production and vocals], he finished up the nitpicky things, and from that we went to mastering. I was there for the whole process — different from my first experience.
You’re more involved in the actual production. Yeah, and I think it really shows in the song that it’s really personal to me. Finally where I want to be. I found my niche. It definitely sounds like your song as opposed to a song someone gave to you. That’s so important to me. That personality in the song, too. It’s super cool that it’s something people will listen to, and can relate to, and it’s my story that I’m telling. Do you have any projects coming up in 2019 that you can talk about? I’m going to be going back into the studio with Ryan again and probably recording a couple other songs. I’m not quite sure yet what the plan is, but I definitely want to get in and make some more tracks. Hopefully an EP in the future. That would be pretty awesome. You’re nominated for a Fraser Valley Music Award again this year. This is your fourth nomination. How do you feel about having that kind of support for your music in your local community? It’s really rewarding. When I won Best Performance by a Youth Artist in 2017, that was amazing. It was a personal goal for me for and once I achieved that, it was a step in the right direction. I got a lot of good connections out of that. As a whole, the Abbotsford community has a lot more to offer now in the arts division and performing, so it was cool to see all the other people that are involved in the industry as well, because you don’t always connect with those people. It was cool to meet a whole bunch of different artists and talk with them. As a young artist, how do you feel about the music scene in the Fraser Valley? It is definitely getting better each year as I perform in different places. I notice new things popping up, new opportunities. It’s growing. It’s getting there. I mean, obviously it’s not the biggest hub of exposure and opportunity, but there’s definitely more coming up. There’s lots of people within the city who are trying to make it a better space for up-and-coming artists, or for people
who maybe want to get into the industry and they are just starting out. It’s good because once you get into a big city and you’re not quite established yet, you get lost in that big crowd of everybody else who is doing the same thing you’re doing. So it’s really cool here, that you can have a small town community feel but with a bigger crowd and bigger exposure for different people. It’s a good community for performing live. When you finish school what are your plans? I’m not sure. If I do go to university, I’ll definitely be going to a recording school or something in the performing arts. Right now, my plan is to just give it 100 percent in my music. I won’t be a part-time student anymore, so I won’t have to balance that part of my life with music and I can just really focus on performing and building that audience. Do you think that you are going to leave the Fraser Valley to explore things? I definitely have a dream of getting to a bigger city at some point, but I don’t have any plans of leaving. My one focus is to build an audience at home first. Once you get that support from home, wherever you go you can always come back to that. I think growing it here is important to connect with the people that surround you and really get to connect personally with the people that have helped you since your day one. I think it’s kind of cool too, to have your hometown have that upbringing with you. So I have plans of sticking around here for a bit and growing that audience here. You can check “My Head” out on all streaming platforms.
jadakleinmusic jadaklein Jada Klein Music
CRISIS AND LIVED REALITY Kevin Chongâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s The Plague as a portrait of illness and of Vancouver, and lessons we must learn from novels in dark times by Dessa Bayrock
The novel and its many crises undeniably reflect the darkness of the times we live in ... and how we must choose whether to create or destroy our connections to others. 32
In this reimagining of the classic Albert Camus novel of the same title, Vancouver, the beautiful, austere city of glass, is struck by a plague almost exactly like the bubonic plague but superpowered, as all terrifying illnesses seem to be these days. It kills people indiscriminately, the young and old alike, and the terror is not in the death but rather how the threat of death changes the living so drastically, so completely, and so immediately. The novel is told through three sets of eyes: a doctor, a journalist, and a woman who studies death. For all their differences, the plague begins to shape them into oddly similar people — or even into some kind of linked entity, knit together against terror both within and without. How does community come together even in the darkest of times? Although we may be relatively safe in plague-less 2019, the novel and its many crises undeniably reflect the darkness of the times we live in, too — and how we must choose whether to create or destroy our connections to others during times of crisis. The Plague offers all kinds of interesting crises, both large and small — curiosities of humanity and inhumanity, anecdotes both humorous and tragic. There is the lonely, middle-aged patient who is perfectly healthy, and yet relies on weekly doctor visits to provide him with his only physical contact with another human. Here is a man who does not require help, we can immediately decide — yet does he, too, not deserve to have his loneliness and fear assuaged, even as he takes up precious time with the doctor that may be better spent elsewhere? Then there’s the novel’s fictional Vancouver mayor, who rises to power as a real estate agent and a force for gentrification, but who repents during the plague and attempts to be a man of the people, a man who provides for the disadvantaged. Is it too little, too late? Or is it ever, really, too late? What are we to make of the journalist’s obsession with yo-yo tricks? What are we to make of the obscenely wealthy man who wants to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars building a crypt for himself in the arctic which will withstand the test of time? Can anyone or anything truly withstand the test of time? In some ways the plague allows these narratives to happen, but in other ways these narratives are happening in every beloved, healthy city, whether or not they ever rise to the light. Every city is simultaneously coming together and falling apart — through political scandal, and housing crisis, and opioid epidemic, and the death of print media, and the ways in which women with broken hearts comfort each other, and the way that unlikely heroes rise and fall and are forgotten, and the way that even the strongest among us have fatal flaws they seek to keep hidden from view.
your soul, my solarium I drive through the foggy countryside on this morning that feels like a new birth. I am alone, of course, save for the wet electric sunrise that penetrates my dirty windshield, illuminates the dust on my dashboard. I am alone, of course, and I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t help but transport my soul outside of this car and place it into her room. We are alone, of course, as she lays me down, smooths her dewy hands over me, feel our bodies sink into the slushy sunrise. But, of course, I am not in her room, I am stuck in this car, where the only thing that moves closer to me is the stink bug, sauntering along my dashboard, waving its little arms at me as if to say good morning.
my backyard, my bed, her body I hang silk sheets on the clothesline, feel as the wind curves them into the shape of her body. Close my eyes and dream a spin cycle of thoughts: Sheet to sheet, skin to skin, folding and billowing into each other over and over again. Dream until my pillowcase suffocates me awake, my hands empty, searching; finding nothing but lint between my fingertips the faint scent of lavender lingering in the breeze.
into the earth Tonight, I tethered your ghost to the magnolia tree behind my house. My room acted as a watchtower, so I could keep you in sight. You sat still with your head tucked into your knees. I fell asleep at my post, checked on you in the morning; the pink-white leaves had landed on your limbs and shoulders like scales. Eventually, they turned brown, but your ghost remained unmoved. For a while, I stopped checking. I shut down my blinds and forgot. Winter came and rendered everything in the yard indistinguishable. Gazing out into a sea of white, I thought I could make out the shape of your body. Spring thawed the sow to slush, revealing the dewy buds of flowers. I panned down to the magnolia; the rope Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d wrapped around it remained, but gone was your ghost.
Backroads, lightness, and writing love poems in the valley by Dessa Bayrock, feat. Laurel Logan Laurel Logan is a poet who studies English and Biology at the University of the Fraser Valley. She spends most of her mornings at the yoga studio, and most of her evenings teaching children how to read and write. In her free time, she likes to look at plants, watch movies, drink coffee, and play video games. Maybe a little on the nose, but my first question is about queerness, and writing as a queer writer. Can you speak to that? Living in the Valley and writing queer love poems? I feel like I’m kind of new to it because it took me a long time to figure out my queerness. I wasn’t writing poetry about this a couple years ago – this is different for me. It’s more fun writing queer poetry. When I was writing about men, before, the tone felt a lot different. Maybe a bit forced. But this is better. There’s such a lovely softness and gentleness to these poems, too, which is part of why I really like them. Do you see that as connected to queerness? How do you think of queerness? When I think of queerness, I think of sunshine and happiness and lightness and it feeling natural. Before, my poetry had these overtones of angst and bitterness, and now it feels a lot more natural.
Something else I noticed about your poetry — and in curating this series for Raspberry over time — is how the Fraser Valley landscape works its way into poems. How do you see the landscape as connected to your writing? I like taking the backroads in the Valley, and going through the countryside. I love the way everything looks in the morning when the sun’s coming up and it just looks beautiful. That always inspires me. I don’t wake up that early usually but when I do, it feels worth it. When I lived in the Valley, I loved taking the backroads from Chilliwack to Abbotsford – even though it took so much longer, there was something so much more satisfying about it than taking the highway. Yes, that’s it exactly. The highway — there’s only one nice point when you’re coming down through Mount Lehman — that one beautiful part where you can see the mountains — but otherwise the backroads are so much nicer. I know exactly the part you’re talking about. I feel like that’s a Valley shorthand that we all understand. Ah, yes – the one part that’s worth it. It goes by in a second, but it’s worth it. Where do you live, in the Valley? I live in Langley, and I have most of my life. I go to school at UFV so I’m out there a lot of the time.
“When I think of queerness, I think of sunshine and happiness and lightness and it feeling natural.”
There’s something so interesting to me about that — no matter where you live in the Valley, everyone is always travelling. There’s always a commute. I love that first line of “your soul, my solarium”: I drive through the foggy countryside / on this morning that feels like a new birth. That was where the sun was coming up, on Telegraph Trail, in Langley, and I love driving that road in the morning. It looked stunning — there was mist and fog in the air. And then in “into the earth,” it flips that with a spooky vibe; on one hand, tethering a ghost is a creepy idea, but then tethering it to a magnolia tree changes that image because they’re such beautiful trees, especially when they start to blossom in the spring. Thinking about ghosts and haunting — that’s another thing that seems to pop up in Fraser Valley poems that no one seems to talk about — this gothic vibe. Yeah, yeah! I know — I think ghosts are cool, and I love going to spooky places, and I know a lot of people who like to do that. But I also don’t like to write things that are too dark. That’s the neat thing about ghosts — they don’t have to be purely scary. They can also be these beautiful, ephemeral images. Yeah — when I was writing this, I was thinking about the day time. But then also I think ghosts are more spooky at night. Do you want to talk a bit about your process and what writing looks like for you? If I write a poem I’m happy with, it takes a very short amount of time. Writing each of these ones probably took less than 20 minutes. If a poem is getting to me, I know that trying to write it for more than an hour... it’s not going to turn out. It’s time to give up and try another one. Are there any overarching projects that you’re working on now? I used to be working on a project where I wrote a lot of poems about food. All kinds of food — I worked in a chocolate store for a long time so that was a source of inspiration. Then I thought it was interesting using metaphors about food. I tried to make a little chapbook about that, which still might happen. But I’ve moved on from that phase — the food poems became a bit gross sometimes, because food can be gross. There’s more lightness now; I’m working on things like these poems, with that light tone — that lightness.
Send your original unpublished writing to email@example.com for consideration in our next issue. photo: Taneane Twele Photography
Our contributors Dessa Bayrock is a Fraser Valley ex-pat who lives in Ottawa with two cats and a variety of succulents, one of which is growing at a frankly alarming rate. She used to unfold paper for a living at Library and Archives Canada and is currently a PhD student in English, studying literary awards and the production of cultural value. She really likes books and has a tattoo of Mount Cheam on her arm. You can find her, or at least more about her, at dessabayrock.com, or on Twitter at @yodessa. Jennifer Hickey lives in the heart of Chilliwack, BC, where she coordinates community events. She has worked for the Chilliwack Arts Council and the Abbotsford Arts Council, and studied Visual Arts and Graphic Design at UFV, in addition to Hospitality and Event Planning Management. You can find her sampling delicious Fraser Valley food and beverages, exploring local art galleries, and observing zany occurrences throughout the Lower Mainland. Aymee Leake studied visual arts at UFV, and is a staunch arts advocate in Abbotsford. She has been an enthusiastic administrator and coordinator in a variety of organizations, including the Abbotsford Arts Council and a number of galleries. In 2016, she was nominated for the Christine Caldwell Outstanding Arts Advocate award. She’s quirky, passionate, and patently hilarious. These days, you can find Aymee painting eyes and firing up the kiln at the Clay Cottage. Laurel Logan is a poet who studies English and Biology at the University of the Fraser Valley. She spends her mornings in class, and her evenings teaching children how to read and write. In her free time, she likes to hang out with friends and family, practice yoga, watch movies, drink coffee, and play video games.
Lian McIntyre is a graduate of UFV with a Bachelor of Arts in English which ultimately led to her current job as a legal administrative assistant. New to the world of non-profits, Lian is passionate about cultivating social engagement in the community and about giving artists, writers and other creators a platform for their work. Lian is a voracious consumer of all things media and a self-proclaimed armchair critic. Ally Schuurman is a multi-disciplinary theatre artist and creative facilitator living and working in New Westminster, BC. Sarah Sovereign loves storytelling, coffee, colour, and the first day of summer. She is married to a pretty wonderful guy named Jamie. They live in an apartment in Chilliwack covered in knick-knacks, with their cats, Jax and Beans. Sarah’s background is in film, visual arts, and English at UFV, and she is currently getting her Masters in Counselling. Her passion is working with others in visual storytelling, creating safe spaces in which to hold and photograph the stories we carry with us. One day she plans to mix this with her counselling practice. Meghan Spence is a Fraser Valley based painter with her roots in the Okanagan. She started as a self-taught in Vernon BC, collaborating on a city-wide mural project. Meghan later relocated to the Lower Mainland where she continued her painting education at Emily Carr University. She currently lives and works in Abbotsford BC, drawing influence from around British Columbia. Her work explores the present experience of nature, drawing on her adventures in the backcountry. Meghan’s paintings are regularly shown in galleries and art spaces around the Lower Mainland.
Katie Stobbart is the founding editor of Raspberry and the heart and soul behind Red Press Society. She’s a queer feminist poet and nerd from Abbotsford, where she lives with two cats, eleven houseplants, and a thousand books. Katie has a B.A. in English, Creative Writing from UFV and is the executive assistant at a local non-profit organization. When she’s not working, you’ll find her writing, painting, or leading a bumbling party of heroes on a quest to save the forest. Jess Wind teaches communications at the University of the Fraser Valley and is an editor at Raspberry. She has an M.A. from Carleton University, a B.A. from UFV, and enough zombie research to survive the apocalypse. She’s a pop-culture nerd, a retro-loving geek, and a writer of many things. She also shares a birthday with Harry Potter. Danielle Windecker was born and raised in Abbotsford. Her work as a writer and marketing professional has seen her live and travel in Canada, the UK, and the United States, contributing to publications as diverse as wedding magazines and football blogs. Danielle loves the rich creativity of people who call the Fraser Valley home. When she’s not writing she reads voraciously, dabbles in arts and crafts, and obsesses over her cat, Aurora, who emigrated from the UK in 2016.
Raspberry is a magazine devoted to Fraser Valley culture and community life. Established in June 2016, Raspberry publishes reviews, event coverage, and other local content. f RaspberryZine
Red Press Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising the profile and stimulating the growth of local arts, culture, and community life in the Fraser Valley. BOARD OF DIRECTORS Jess Wind PRESIDENT
Dessa Bayrock SECRETARY
Aymee Leake TREASURER
Lian McIntyre BOARD MEMBER
Shea Wind BOARD MEMBER
Danielle Windecker BOARD MEMBER
Katie Stobbart EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR f RedPressSociety