Author Archives: editor

Understorey Magazine at CCWWP

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Join Understorey Magazine editor Katherine Barrett and Cargo Literary editor Mo Duffy Cobb at the 2017 Canadian Creative Writers and Writing Programs Conference in Frederiction, New Brunswick, June 9-11.

We will be discussing:

  • how and why we founded online literary magazines,
  • the role of literary magazines in nurturing new writers, and
  • challenges of the current publishing environment in Canada.

We hope for a lively discussion.

See the full conference schedule on the CCWWP website.

A New Partnership: Understorey Magazine and the Alexa McDonough Institute

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AMI Logo


Big news for Understorey Magazine!

We are now in partnership with the Alexa McDonough Institute (AMI) for Women, Gender and Social Justice at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax.

AMI, chaired by Susan Brigham, is a hub of feminist energy, action and research. Understorey and AMI share a mandate of empowerment through self-expression and sharing of ideas, experiences and stories.

We look forward to this exciting chapter of the magazine. Stay tuned for details of our new editorial board and creative direction!

A huge thank you Second Story Women’s Centre for their support in launching Understorey and publishing seven fabulous issues since 2013.

Literary Awards Season!

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double pregnantYes, it’s literary awards season and two Understorey Magazine authors have been nominated for their book-length work.

Natalie Meisner has been nominated for the Dartmouth Book Award for Non-Fiction for Double Pregnant: Two Lesbians Make a Family (Roseway). Natalie published a preview of Double Pregnant in Understorey‘s Winter 2014 issue.



Sylvia D. Hamilton has been shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award and the JM Abraham Poetry Award for her poetry collection And I Alone Escaped to Tell You (Gaspereau Press). A poem from that collection, “On My Dining Room Table,” was published in the inaugural issue of Understorey in 2013.

Congratulations Natalie and Sylvia! (And a pat on the back to Understorey Magazine.)

A Review of Blended: Writers on the Stepfamily Experience

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cover_blendedIt took until 2011 for Statistics Canada to formally include stepfamilies in the population census. At that time, almost 500,000 Canadian families – over 12 per cent – were step. It’s telling that stepfamilies had been left out. We tend to believe they are not so different from others; stories unique to blended families often go unheard.

A new book brings the stepfamily experience to light. Blended will be published by Seal Press this May. Edited by Samantha Waltz, Blended offers thirty personal essays by upcoming and established writers. Tone and circumstance vary across these stories, as we would expect from thirty diverse families, yet all contributors focus on the challenges of re-mixing relationships into something whole and profoundly new.

In “It Takes a Villa,” for example, Barbara Lodge describes a long-awaited vacation in Tuscany. She brings her new partner, Louise, as well as her two teenage kids from a previous marriage. She also invites her ex-husband and his new partner, both recovering addicts/alcoholics. Lodge works very hard to be a good mother, a loving spouse, a considerate ex, and a happy-go-lucky vacationer as her ex-husband invites their slightly underage kids to party long into the night.

In “Nightshade Love,” Nancy Antonietti writes beautifully of her two childhood homes – with her grandparents’ and with her somewhat estranged father. She distills this experience into the push-pull of leaving one home for the other every weekend and the assumptions adults unwittingly pass on to children.

And in “The Angel Steps Down,” Elizabeth King Gerlach explores a time of stress and compromise for many blended families: the holidays. Through reluctant shifts in Christmas decorations, Gerlach, her new partner, and their children learn to overcome resistance and nurture new traditions.

There is no firm advice in Blended; no how-to-be-a-better-stepparent. There is simply the wisdom of interlaced experience and the pleasure of fine writing.

16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence: November 25 to December 10

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16-Days_2013_poster_final-2013_webSixteen Days of Activism is an annual, global event to raise awareness of, and take action against, gender-based violence.

The event begins on November 25, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women runs until International Human Rights Day on December 10.

The 16 days also includes Canada’s National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women on December 6, created in the aftermath of the 1989 massacre of fourteen women at the École Polytechnique de Montréal.

Sixteen Days of Activism began in 1991, following the first Women’s Global Leadership Initiative. Each year, the campaign adopts a theme—democracy, racism, women’s health and many others. The theme for 2014 is From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World, a focus on links between militarism and gender-based violence.

Violence against women is always an urgent social issue. For Canadians, 2014 has been particularly tragic (and thus newsworthy) with the murder Loretta Saunders and calls for a public inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women, the death of Rehtaeh Parsons and the precedent-setting trial around cyberbullying, and the high-profile charges against Jian Ghomesi.

During 16 Days of Activism 2014, events will take place in Canada and around the world. Here is a sample:

Cameroon: Talks wi10408833_731201210306112_4668864392892066820_nth workers in barbershops and hair salons. Organizers realize that these are places where people discuss their lives. They hope to bring issues of gender-based violence into the conversation.

Kenya: An online competition among Kenyan bloggers will discuss issues of gender-based violence using media such as poetry, spoken word, dance, rap, photography or art.

Italy: Throughout Palermo, organizers will hold posters with statements about violence against women. Pedestrians, street vendors and others will be invited to have their photo taken with the posters.

Papua New Guinea: To make the point that women do not invite violence by the way they dress, organizers are asking men to wear a meri blouse (dress) for one day.

United Nations: The UN has adopted orange as the colour for this year’s campaign and invites you to “Orange Your Neighbourhood” as a show of action and support.

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia: Join Second Story Women’s Centre at the Lunenburg Fire Hall on Sunday, December 7, 3:30 pm, to commemorate the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. The Centre will honour women who have experienced violence and discuss ways we can work toward a future of peace and hope. Everyone is welcome.