Off The Page Spring 2016

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In March 2016, Writers Read & Off The Page, in cooperation with the University of Montreal and Librarie Drawn & Quarterly, are hosting: Ben Lerner, Anne Boyer, Jordan Abel, Sonnet L’Abbé, and more. We are also organizing several panels and we need participants. Details on the panels and how to answer our call for papers & projects below.

Off the Page Full Schedule

Confirmed Readers & Call for Participants

In March 2016, Writers Read & Concordia University are hosting the Off The Page literary festival. In cooperation with the Université de Montreal and Librarie Drawn & Quarterly, we are hosting Ben Lerner, Anne Boyer, Jordan Abel, Sonnet L’Abbé, and more. We are also organizing several panels and we need participants. There are details on the panels and how to submit work. The confirmed events are listed below and the rest of the schedule will be confirmed in early March.

MARCH 17, 2016: Jordan Abel, Anne Boyer, Sonnet L’Abbé
Venue: Librarie Drawn & Quarterly, 211 Bernard Ouest, 8pm

JORDAN ABEL’s conceptual writing engages with the representation of Indigenous peoples in Anthropology and popular culture. Abel is the author of The Place of Scraps (Talonbooks 2013), which was a finalist for the Gerald Lampert Award and the winner of the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize, Un/inhabited (Project Space Press and  Talonbooks 2015), and Injun (Talonbooks 2016).

SONNET L’ABBÉ is the author of two collections of poetry, A Strange Relief and Killarnoe. She was the most recent Edna Staebler Writer In Residence at Wilfrid Laurier University. L’Abbé was the guest editor of the Best Canadian Poetry 2014 anthology.

ANNE BOYER is the author of Garments Against Women, was educated in the public libraries and universities of Kansas. Boyer works as an Assistant Professor of the Liberal Arts at the Kansas City Art Institute, a four year college of art and design, where she teaches with the poets Cyrus Console and Jordan Stempleman. In 2014, she was diagnosed with highly aggressive triple negative breast cancer which has been the source of her current project, a work about the politics of care in the age of precarity.

MARCH 18, 2016: An Evening with BEN LERNER
7pm, EV 1.605, York Amphitheatre, 1515 Rue St. Catherine.

Ben Lerner is the author of Leaving the Atocha Station (2011) and 10:04 (2014) as well as several full-length poetry collections, including Mean Free Path (2010) and Angle of Yaw (2006), which was a finalist for the National Book Award and the Northern California Book Award. His sonnet sequence, The Lichtenberg Figures (2004), won the Hayden Carruth Award.

Interested attendees can find more information, archival footage from previous readings, and updates on upcoming events at our website,, and follow Writers Read on Twitter (@CUWritersRead) and Facebook (writersreadconcordia).

Call for Participants

***Deadline extended to February 28***

What to Submit

Off The Page, a literary festival hosted by Concordia University, is looking for insightful and thought-provoking papers, poems and creative projects that explore varying topics, to be presented and discussed at this year’s three-day festival from March 17ththrough the 19thPapers should be between 1,250 and 1,750 words (10-15 minutes). Creative projects should be 4-5 pages or 10-15 minutes. Selected papers & projects will be presented in a panel discussion.

Where /  When / How to Submit

  1. Send your papers & creative projects to Off the Page / offthepageconcordia [at] gmail [dot] com
  2. Include the relevant panel title in the subject line of your email.
  3. Include a cover sheet with your name, contact information, paper title and relevant panel title with your submission.
  4. Send by Sunday 28 February 2016, before midnight.


Panel Descriptions
scroll down to see descriptions for each panel.

Writing Iconocide
A Queer is a Queer is a Queer (Creative projects only)
Black Love (Creative projects only)
Blurred Boundaries: Between Fiction and ‘The Real’
Editors Talking Editing: The Other Side of Submittable
Behind the Screens
Cursing in Cursive

Writing Iconocide

‘Seeing’ has always been on the agenda of poetry, and questions of visual culture shape poetics as much as questions of textual and sonic culture. From the typographic experiments of Futurism and Dadaism to the Concrete movement and onwards – from a wielding of visual materiality (in sewn pages, in cartooon scraps) to an unleashing of visual immateriality (in crawling powerpoints, in virtual icons)  – whether it’s the images of scientific objectivity, images of the capitalist subject, images of governmental mapping both within and without the body, there is a sense in which writing has to play the iconoclast. Suspicious of images, addicted and allergic to images, smashing, swiping or burying them before they can be seen or forgotten, the dead-and-still-murderous image functions as the text’s shadow.

Off the Page 2016 invites papers that explore this phenomena in poetry and the poetics of literature more broadly: we are interested in both scholarly and creative projects and papers that explore this distrust of images, destruction of images, policing of images, and mutation of images. Our interest for this panel points to image

A Queer is a Queer is a Queer

Natalie Oswin’s essay “Critical Geographies and the Uses of Sexuality: Deconstructing Queer Space” notes that, while queer space was initially “a radical alternative to heterosexual space”, the contemporary prominence of queer theory and the emergence of an understanding of a dominant gay culture, have allotted certain gay identities their own space in what was previously an exclusively heterosexual mass culture. Oswin argues that this shift necessarily changes the questions we must ask when discussing both external queer space and the individualized queer body. What can we do to subvert the current trend of emphasising the queer body? What can we do to resists the posing of queer bodies within mainstream narratives? What can we do so create work that pushes against the margins of conventionality? In order t re-radicalize the queer subject, Oswin suggests that we must break conventional narratives.

Off the Page 2016 seeks to put Oswin’s theory into practice by inviting queer and/or trans identified writers to submit work that intentionally deviates from mainstream narratives about the queer body and/or queer space in order to deepen our understanding of what queer is. This work should speak to the current culture that surrounds queer and/or trans literature in a way that brings to light the diversity and intersectionality of the lived queer experience. Show us something crude, show us something beautiful, messy, ugly, critical, rude, show us something real. Work selected for Off the Page’s “Breaking Standard Narratives in Queer Poetics and Prose” panel will be presented March 2016 at Concordia University.

Black Love

Google ‘Black Love’, and you will find the same image replicated by multiple artists in multiple genres. It involves a greased up muscular Black man and an enraptured Black woman embracing. Usually it involves an amber brown pallet and generic pan african accessories ( a jug, a robe, maybe candles, a lion). A few of these images, in an attempt to remain contemporary, use signifiers such as the word love scrawlled in ‘graff’ font on a brick backdrop or to appeal to growing black middle class, a fire place, a rose, a glass of wine. God seems to be present usually represented by angel wings, the bible, or the colour white. Sometimes there are babies. Maybe they have dreads maybe they have afros, maybe this is an accurate representation of black love maybe its completely not. In Stuart Hall’s essay ‘New Ethnicities’ Hall uses the example of Hanif Kurdish’s film My beautiful Launderette to explore representations of Black Love. Hall concludes that it is “one of the most riveting and important films produced by a black writer in recent years…[because of] its refusal to represent the black experience in Britain as monolithic [as]… always and only ‘positive’ .” In attempts to represent Black Love we have distilled it in within a parody. Lets have more conversations around Black Love as silly, as sad, as non american, as platonic, as sexy, as fleeting, as interacial, as ugly, as boring, as queer, as functional, as dysfunctional primarily as shaped by multiple definitions. Off the Page 2015 calls for creative works by POC writers on love (or like) in attempt to broaden conversations and get mushy. Works that speak on the love of television of tumblr of self of food of boys of girls of pets of clothes of love its self are encouraged.

Blurred Boundaries: Between Fiction and ‘The Real’

In A Few Notes on Two of My Books, Kathy Acker writes “For a while, back in the early days of my writing, I looked for a voice, a self. I placed ‘true’ autobiography next to ‘false’ autobiography. I learned two things. First, in fiction, there is no ‘true’ and ‘false’ in social-realist terms. Fiction is ‘true’ or real when it makes. Second, if there is a self, it isn’t Hegel’s subject or the centralized phallic I/eye. If there is a self, it’s probably the world. All is real. When I placed ‘true’ autobiography next to ‘false’ autobiography, everything was real.” Fiction has never had a stable identity. Writers continually draw and redraw the line between The Real and The Imagined. What is the significance of the (non) distinction between fiction and non-fiction, fantasy and memoir? What is the attraction of The Real in fiction, in non-fiction, in memoir? How does the blurred boundary between fact and fiction complicate the writing of the self? What creative possibilities does this blurring of boundaries offer?

Behind the Screens

Writing for the screen — be it an LED flatscreen or the backlit rectangle found on a handheld gaming device — is a collaborative process. Actors, visual and graphic designers, makeup artists, location managers, a slew of producers and a variety of other contributors take part in translating the words into a finished audio-visual experience. I propose that this panel discuss screen- and game-writing in terms of their role within this collaborative process. Whether it’s working with other writers in a story room scenario, or interpreting the vision of game developer, I would like the members of the panel to each discuss their own trials and successes in being a part of a creative team, while simultaneously exploring screen- and game-writing as their own unique mediums.

Editors Talking Editing: The Other Side of Submittable

This panel does not seek to answer the question of how to get your writing published. This panel considers the side of the industry that writers might only think of in the abstract: the collection, curation, and decision to publish your writing. Who is on the other side of your Submittable account? And how did they end up there? Off the Page 2016 presents a discussion among editorial alumni of Concordia University’s Headlight Anthology and Soliloquies Anthology. Student-produced publications not only provide a venue for the voices of emerging writers, but also offer students the opportunity to gain valuable publishing and editing experience. Students learn to design covers and fill the pages between, to find funding and a readership, to promote a call for submissions and a publication launch. How does the experience publishing a student literary journal apply to work the larger professional industry? Former student editors discuss their undergraduate and graduate publishing and editing experience and their current work in the industry, from editing to managing to writing to founding new publications.

Cursing in Cursive

The truth is, writing is arrogant. To want to be a writer is arrogant. To believe that the words that come out of your head are worth the precious time of other people is arrogant. Hip-hop has known that for a long time, and not only is it accepted but that intrinsic arrogance is embraced. Those people who hate Kanye West for his cockiness have missed the point completely. The Honorary Dr. West calls himself a genius because of course he is. If he weren’t, then why would we all be listening? But you don’t have to be a mainstream success story to be a worthwhile rapper. Montreal has got spitters a plenty who are convinced that, yes, they are the best. Their flow is crazy, and their lyrics will live forever. You gotta learn to live with that, or step your game up. Off The Page 2016 is looking for MC’s, confident in their work, consistent with their craft, who are interested in sharing one or two of their greatest verses on a panel of fellow rappers, and down to breakdown their lyrics line-for-line (think: Rap Genius) for the crowd to gawk at. We want to know what your music is really getting at, and how you go about getting it to that level. Please submit the lyrics of up to five of your favorite, most meaningful rap verses, and their corresponding mp3s if your shit is on wax. Whack rappers need not apply.

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