Posts filed under ‘Misunderstandings Magazine’

Last Gasp

After 7 1/2 years, Misunderstandings Magazine will celebrate its final issue on June 2, 2011. I’m happy to be going out with an issue that I’m especially proud of, and that Edward Nixon will be hosting the evening’s festivities.

Join us at the Black Swan Tavern for cake and readings from:

Claire Caldwell
Sam Cheuk
Mathew Henderson
Mat Laporte
Blaise Moritz
A.F. Moritz
Robin Richardson
Rob Taylor
Paul Vermeersch 

For the curious, here’s a cover preview:


May 25, 2011 at 2:48 am Leave a comment

Michael Lista, literary magazines and the future of MM

Michael Lista tackled a topic close to my heart on Friday, discussing the future of Canadian literary magazines in his latest column for the National Post. I’m passionate enough about literary magazines to have run one (Misunderstandings Magazine) for the past 7 years, and was pleased to see the drawbacks of the new Canadian Periodical Fund discussed as they relate to literature.

Of course, my own enterprise is much too small to have ever qualified for government assistance, nor have I sought it. The goal of Misunderstandings Magazine has been to straddle the line between zine culture and Toronto’s more mainsteam literary community, positioning itself as an alternative to what Jacob McArthur Mooney describes as the “beige standard of mainstream literary publishing“. From the outset, Ian Williams, Vicki Sloot and I envisioned MM as means to foster emerging writers alongside some of Canada’s best. It’s been a delicate undertaking, and I have no problem admitting that the quality of our publication varied significantly over the course of 15 issues – however we’re proud to have stuck close to our mandate.

I’m of the firm opinion that the quality of writing that Lista mentions in the Post is one of the lesser considerations as it relates to literary periodicals. To me they’re learning grounds as much as places to find a “comprehensive, concise survey of our very best and freshest work.” I do agree with his thesis however, and feel it’s time to scale back the number of literary publications that exist in Canada at the moment – or at the least the number of literary publications that do the same thing. Mooney is right when he espouses ripping the cover off copies of The Antigonish Review, The Fiddlehead and The Malahat Review to compare: you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between them.

All of this is a roundabout way of getting to the fact that as of June 2, I’m folding Misunderstandings Magazine. My decision has nothing to do with competition or the CPF, but more to do with what plagues all magazines that exist as labours of love: time. Instead of working with a large number of writers on an issue by issue basis, I’d like to put my time into fostering specific writers through Cactus Press, a chapbook imprint I run with Devon Gallant. So, I’m bidding literary magazinedom adieu for the time being. I do, however, hope that the mantle of the small and in-between continues to be held high in Canadian letters.

March 27, 2011 at 7:14 pm 4 comments

Misunderstandings Magazine #14 Cover Preview

July 9, 2010 at 10:08 pm Leave a comment

Misunderstandings Magazine Issue 14 launch

On July 22, Edward Nixon’s livewords reading series will host the launch of MM14 with readings from:

Nashira Dernesch
Guy Ewing
Eric Foley
Jerome Paul
Sheila Stewart
Sarah Teitel
Carleton Wilson
Elana Wolff 

+ a feature performance by Andrew McEwan reading from his first chapbook: Input / Output (Cactus Press, 2010).

The particulars:

Date: July 22, 2010
Time: 7:30 – 10:30 pm
Location: The Black Swan Tavern (154 Danforth Ave., Toronto, Ontario)

June 30, 2010 at 12:09 am Leave a comment

MM13 Available Now!

I’d like to thank everyone who attended the MM13 launch on Thursday, February 4. It was our biggest launch yet, and I was thrilled with the turnout. Thanks also to Julie Crawford (and her husband Guy) who manned the merchandise table with resolve in the face of chaos.

MM13 is available for order online (send me an email at and at This Aint The Rosedale Library. Its a steal at $3.00. Below I’ve posted Nyla Matuk’s The Kiosk-Attendant, one of my favorite poems in the issue.

The Kiosk-Attendant

He cleared out his hut one rainy Tuesday in March
while the water of the rushing world
arrived as a strange Superior inside the station entrance.
He’d been selling Paris Matches and gum for fourteen years
at St George’s grimy, hospital green end; he’d cut his teeth on
Goodge Street’s Beeb crowd, their politesse for a W.O.G. always
on the wane by the time it was time.

Evenings, you heard his muezzin call
as you rose from the escalator knowing
why the caged bird sang.
You’d make the call from the telephone booth,
saying you need one true thing,
then remember that old uncle on Valparaiso’s funicular,
a beer gut on him a treasure as vast as a carny’s smile,
a shining iceberg melting like a memory:
the Mermaid Bar, the Dolphin Show,
the House of Mirrors with a laugh track.

Your gaze fixes above that disappearing silver riser,
and the day’s wonder is deep in your briefcase.
You did it every night on the way home:
like the cobra
charmed out of its basket, forgetting
the lynxes, lunacies, rote financial digital parades
at Bay and King.

You thought (you said so when you got home)
that his kiosk was better than the elevator attendant’s,
the parking lot paymaster’s,
the valet guys’ at the psychoanalyst’s up on St. Clair.
In the subway, we’re all individuals.

  Nyla and I at the 2009 Best Canadian Poetry in English launch, Novemeber 2009.

February 6, 2010 at 9:56 pm Leave a comment

Misunderstandings Magazine Issue 13

Cactus Press is pleased to announce the launch of Misunderstandings Magazine Issue 13, on February 4  at 8 pm. Join us at the Black Swan Tavern (154 Danforth Ave., Toronto) to celebrate. Readers will include:

Liz Howard
Matt Leslie
Michael Lista
Andrew McEwan
Nyla Matuk 
Robin Richardson

+ Blair Trewartha launching his new Cactus Press chapbook, Break In.

January 8, 2010 at 7:56 pm Leave a comment

MM12 Available Now!

Misunderstandings Magazine #12 is hot off the presses, and I’ve finally recovered from the launch last Thursday night at The Central. A big thanks to Edward Nixon for featuring us at his livewords reading series.

Here’s a sneak peak at one of the poems in the issue – Melanie Pierluigi’s Slow Paralysis:

I watch you pull  

the ocean from its frame. 

Watch the rise and fall of air 

as it falls from your chest 

like small moths.

Each wing pulls at the pinioned sky 

like stars that blink once and suddenly 

stop moving. A slow paralysis. 

The way you sit in a room 

but are never seen. Or when 

I’m pulled along by the slow velocity 

of your voice. The skeletal presence 

of looking through cracks and finding 

only burnt stones, left-over words, the hollow curve  

in my voice where  

you use to fit.


Besides MP, MM12 includes an interview with Patrick Lane as well as new poems from Shane Neilson, Lindsay Tipping, Natalie Zina Walscots etc. Send me an email at if you’d like a copy!


Misunderstandings 12

July 29, 2009 at 4:44 pm Leave a comment

Blair Trewartha’s Procedures for Escape

To kick off National Poetry Month, I’ve decided to post another poem that originally appeared in Misunderstandings Magazine. Here’s Blair Trewartha’s Procedures for Escape from MM11:

The train hovers along the track
somewhere between Oshawa and Belleville
and I sit in seat 14
in the aisle across from the emergency window
with a little red hammer
in a small gray box —
the one which every kid, including me
would give up their seat
just to smash

The attendant explains the procedures of escape
to the family of five sitting ahead of me
She’s a cute brunette with high cheekbones
and low lips and probably close to my age
and she asks me if in the event of an emergency
would I be willing to climb out the window with her first
to help her assist all the women and children off the train

I tell her yes, most definitely, and stare back out the window
at the blurred trees and old telephone wires
listening to the sounds the train wheels make
across the cold, hard rails
which always sound a bit like thunder
and a bit like a steel mill in full work-day swing
and I imagine the two of us, hand in hand
leaping out the shattered window
of the recently de-railed
looking like two children jumping off a small cliff
into blue water on a sun-blind afternoon
using their fear of heights
as a meager excuse to hold hands

I look back at the tiny red hammer
in the little gray box
displayed like a javelin in a courtroom
and repeat her question over again in my head
thinking, yes I would be willing to do that
you’re just the first person
to have asked



Blair Trewartha

April 1, 2009 at 4:20 pm 7 comments

Tim Ormond’s Eulogy with Ridicule and Blame

Over the next few months I plan on posting a handful of poems that have appeared in the first 11 issues of Misunderstandings Magazine. While MM does have a web presence (, this is an easy way for me to share some of our creative content. 

First up is Tim Ormond’s Eulogy with Ridicule and Blame. It appeared in Issue 9.

He pinned his hopes downtown in his pockets
until they burned sweet through to his shorts
later to be found face down
by composting pterodactyls
with the hairs plucked off from his groin.

When we came home we found him sleeping at the table,
and, giggling, we penciled circles beneath his eyes.
When he awoke he found his dinner at the ready,
but with knife and fork stapled to his thighs.

He never knew what jobs to give to flowers or to beanstalks,
he never dreamt up names for the stray dogs in the trees,
he never thought that stairs looked better in the city;
he simply felt these things were fine where they all lay.

You should have told him he’d get lost inside the forest
with all the circus tops along the way,
and the lion tamers’ ropes to tie and bind him:
he’d always thought we’d let him sit and let him play.

And I don’t think he ever knew that the snow held a message
more coherent and direct than the stars.
He’d always hoped that he’d be flying, instead he
lay down dying in the torts and the tarts and the cars.

You should have warned him about the creepers in the offing,
the endless routines to the all-day-longs,
you should have told him to hang on to his piano,
and the show tunes to his mom’s sing-alongs.


Tim Ormond. Photo courtesy of Lisa Myers

In other MM related news, I’d like to welcome our new intern, Blair Trewartha, to the team. Blair is Gadzooks! “person in our neighborhood” for the week of February 12, 2009

February 21, 2009 at 12:24 am 1 comment

MM11 launched!

Misunderstandings Magazine Issue 11 was launched on Friday, February 6, 2009 to a terrific crowd at Cervejaria in Toronto. I’d like to thank to our performers: Sandy Pool, Blair Trewartha, Aaron Tucker, Myna Wallin and Jenny Sampirisi (subbing for Camille Martin).

The MM team is indebted to the founder and host of the livewords reading series, Edward Nixon, who’s  not only a fantastic writer, but has supported us over the entire run of the magazine. 

Open Book Toronto has posted launch photographs at:



February 11, 2009 at 6:23 pm Leave a comment

Older Posts


March 2023

Posts by Month

Posts by Category