A Nanaimo librarian is launching a new “low-barrier” poetry journal for Vancouver Island.
Last week April Hilland announced the 22 poets from across the Island who will appear in the inaugural issue of her online poetry journal Van Isle Poetry Collective. The journal will be available starting Nov. 21.
Hilland said COVID-19 isolation resulted in her outdoor activities “grinding to a halt” and led to her focussing more on her own poetry. She was looking for places to share her writing but found literary magazines, poetry contests and publishers to be cost prohibitive.
“There are membership fees, reader fees, entries fees to contests and that doesn’t even really guarantee your work is going to make it out there,” Hilland said. “So I got the idea of creating a low-barrier literary journal that anyone from Vancouver Island or any of the surrounding islands could send their poetry to free of charge.”
Hilland said she didn’t know what to expect when she put the call out for submissions for Van Isle Poetry Collective, but she ended up receiving more than 100 poems from more than 40 poets. The City of Nanaimo’s inaugural poet laureate Naomi Beth Wakan and the Ladysmith Art Council’s first poet in residence John Edwards were among those who submitted.
“It certainly showed me there’s a need and an appetite for a low-barrier platform for Island poets to share their work on,” she said.
Hilland was open to poems of all lengths and types, including some sonnets and haikus, and she said it was difficult to whittle those submissions down to the final 30 that appear in the journal. She decided to pick poems that shared a common theme.
“The poems that ended up jumping out to me for this submission call were the ones that were describing our collective experience living on Vancouver Island,” she said. “So the scents, the sights, what you were hearing, what you were feeling when you were out and about on the Island.”
Hilland said her goal is to produce three issues of Van Isle Poetry Collective a year and hopes to attract sponsorship to help cover costs. While the publication currently only exists in online form, Hilland said she’d like to one day bring it into the physical realm.
“I would absolutely love to see this in hard copy,” she said. “I mean, what poet doesn’t like to hold a book that has their innermost feelings and thoughts in it?”
More information can be found here.