poetry winner zine
Nearly two decades ago, I was a proud member of the Hoity Toity Writers, a motley literary crew founded by Jim Munroe and including, among others, Jeff (Ninjalicious) Chapman, Emily Pohl-Weary, Ryan Bigge, Craig Taylor, Paola Poletto, Paul Hong, and Renee North. This was my first-ever writing group, and at Jim’s kind invitation I joined it promptly after moving to Toronto in 1998.
The Hoities encouraged and fostered my writing more than I can say. For several years we met regularly at places where one order of fries and maybe two pints for the whole table would buy us hours of undisturbed critiquing time. Usually I brought short fiction to be workshopped, but one day I mentioned an idea I’d had about doing an exposé of the National Library of Poetry—a vanity press masquerading as a legitimate literary competition. And the Hoities said, “Why don’t you make a zine about it?” And I said, “What’s a zine?” They explained that a zine is a cheaply made, self-published thing, usually some photocopied pieces of paper stapled together. I went home that night and got straight to work on poetry winner.
That was in 1999, and in 2000, when the National Library of Poetry morphed into www.poetry.com, I made poetry winner II. Both zines did the rounds at the Toronto Small Press Book Fair, Cut ’n’ Paste, Canzine, and beyond, which was all a huge amount of fun. Then the cutting-and-pasting scene gave way to the blogging scene and I’ve been meaning to web-enable both zines ever since, but I have consistently hesitated like a lame deer in the Internet’s headlights. Happily, my husband Derek is not a luddite like I am, so with his help I have finally broken the digital barrier. What follows are poetry winner and poetry winner II, my zine-form rebuttals to the nefarious NLP (which, according to Wikipedia, is now out of business!).