Category Archives: Launches

Heads up: our October MASALA issue

Our Masala issue is due for launch in October. It’s a heartbreaker. The kind you want to read twice.

“Tangle” by Eisha Marjara.

Guest Editor Pradeep Solanki has put together a beautiful issue about the concept of place and displacement in the Indian diaspora. In poetry, fiction, personal essay and photography, Masala traces the effects of British Colonialism on the peoples of the Indian subcontinent and offers fresh perspectives on what it means to be Indian today.

Masala  presents slices of the India we think we know: the slums and sparkling chandeliers, the mangos and monsoons, and the (bad) Bollywood dancing. But it’s also about the delights and struggles we all experience: family, personal identity, skin colour, tragedy, healing, tradition, taboos, and the meanings of home.

After all, we are all immigrants. In one way or another.


Descant 161 Summer Launch!

Descanters, readers, writers and the curious alike! Summer is approaching, the barbeques are sizzling and it’s time for another launch!

We are ready to step forth into the unfamiliar and the mysterious, with the release of the Summer 2013 issue, Descant 161: Into the Unknown, A Summer Reader. The launch will take place on Wednesday, June 26, 2013, at The Ossington, 61 Ossington Ave., from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM (Doors open at 6:30 PM).

Join us for the free food and a discount for the issue, but come especially to hear Richard Greene, Trista Gilbert, Linda Dobbs(on behalf of Kildare Dobbs), Richard Greene, David Mason, Shane Neilson and Hugh Graham, read excerpts from their work.

Plus we have a raffle, where it’s easy to win prizes that vary from handmade jewelry to magazine subscriptions from our generous donors: The Walrus, Taddle Creek, Chizine publications, Tightrope Books, Steel Bananas, House of Anansi Press and Broken Pencil.

Don’t forget to bring your friends and family! We can’t wait to see you there.

This event is free. For more details, please contact:

Vera DeWaard –

Joshua P’ng –

The Ossington –

Descant’s winter issue rolling out next month

Hello Descanters, it’s that time of year again!

Not only is it one month until Christmas, it’s also one month until Descant‘s winter issue hits the streets. The winter  months can be cold and lonely, so why not cozy up with a copy of A Winter’s Guide to Melancholia?

In fact, why not come and drink with friends at Descant‘s Winter 2012 launch? Remember to mark your calendars for the new year. The launch will be at No One Writes to the Colonel located at 460 College St. in Toronto., from 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm. on January 23, 2013.The launch will feature Natalie Thompson, Daniel Karasik, Joshua Learn, Mark Lavorato and Bill Howell as readers.

We’re telling you early before you get swept up by the holiday season, so remember to invite friends and family and see you all there!

For further information, please visit our Facebook listing or contact:
Vera DeWaard,
Stephanie Chan,
In addition, thank you to the wonderful sponsors of this year’s raffle prizes. Please remember to give these folks some love this holiday season:


Join us for our launch tonight.

Summer Subversions is summer, Descant-style!

The best summers are those brimming with journeys, explorations and great reads. It just so happens that Descant’s warm-weather issue offers all three.
Irreverent photography on a pothole theme by Montreal-based Claudia Ficca and Davide Luciano.

Fiction by Bill Bukovsan, Paul Carlucci, Andrew Creighton, Christine Fischer Guy and Arelene Somerton Smith get us thinking about issues of the outsider.

Heady and sometimes harrowing: poetry from Mathew Henderson, Angela Hibbs, Jimmy McInnes, Kathryn Mockler and more.

Editor Karen Mulhallen gives us a sensitive, funny and provocative interview with Czech-Canadian writer Josef Škvorecký (1924-2012). We see a portrait of a life coloured by the political unrest of post-WWII Communist Central Europe, dissent, literature, love and jazz.

Mark Kingwell takes us fishing in his essay “Slack Enters the System.”
Descant jumps into comics with Mara Sternberg, and artist Kyle Stewart considers the balance of nature and industry.

Crack the spine on Descant 157 and let your summer of discovery begin!

For details about the when and where of it all, click here.

Upcoming Launch for our Summer Issue

Descant157coverHi Descant Fans! We are thrilled to announce that the Descant Arts and Letters Foundation will release its Summer 2012 issue, Summer Subversions, on June 27, 2012. Summer Subversions brings together engaging, thought-provoking, and sometimes harrowing art, fiction, poetry, and essays that are definitely not your typical poolside reading.

Hereʼs a taste of what’s inside: Paul Carlucci offers a glimpse into a northern communitycaught in a cycle of addiction, desperation, and violence. Andrew Creighton gives us a story about a young white supremacist girlʼs self-discovery. Arlene Somerton Smithʼs “Ruby Slippers” meditates on the meaning of death. A not-to-be-missed highlight is editor Karen Mulhallenʼs provocative interview with the late Czech-Canadian writer anddissident Josef Skvorecky, in which he talks about love, politics, and jazz. Photographers Claudia Ficca and Davide Lucianoʼs imaginative portfolio on potholes is (literally) like something out of Aliceʼs Adventures in Wonderland.

To celebrate the release, a public event will take place on June 27, 2012, doors open at 7:00pm at The Magpie, 831 Dundas St. West. Contributors Angela Hibbs, Mark Kingwell, Jimmy McInnes, and Kathryn Mockler will read selections of poetry and non-fiction.The event will also feature a raffle with fabulous prizes, ranging from gift certificates and book packages, to subscriptions and gift baskets. We invite all lit-lovers to join us for an evening of readings, conversation, food, and libation as we toast the summer and all of its complexities!

Here is the event listing on Facebook.

If you’re curious and want more information contact:

Vera DeWaard, Managing Editor:
Amy Stupavsky, Production Editor, 157:

LeftWords addresses the issues that matter

This May marks the return of the LeftWords Festival of Books and Ideas, a day-long showcase of progressive and left-leaning authors, publishers, and book sellers. The festival, which has been on hiatus since 2005, is re-launching this year in partnership with the Mayworks Festival of Working People and the Arts.

This year’s LeftWords has much to offer. In addition to a marketplace showcasing more than 20 exhibitors, the festival will host a series of panel discussions and workshops on subjects ranging from activism and dissent to community art and graphic novels.

According to Matt Adams, one of the festival’s organizers, what makes Leftwords unique is the way it responds to the salient—and controversial— social and political issues of our time. “Among our panelists this year, we have G20 critics, Occupy activists, and labour experts,” says Adams. “For better or for worst, the time is certainly ripe to re-launch.”

Highlights of this year’s festival include a keynote address by famed feminist and activist Michele Landsberg and a panel discussion featuring Frances Fox Piven, who recently earned the ire of Glenn Beck for her involvement in the Occupy Wall Street movement.

LeftWords is on May 6, 2012 at the Ryerson Students’ Centre, 55 Gould St. The festival opens at 11 a.m. and runs until 5 p.m. It will be followed by an After-Party hosted by the Socialist Register. For more information, please visit:

Event Announcement: Descant 154 Launch Party!

Join us October 5, 2011 as we launch Descant 154: Sicily in style. Come hear Sicily contributors Valentino Assenza, Gil Fagiani, Darlene Madott and Gianna Patriarca read from their texts in an authentic Italian atmosphere. The event will take place at grano restaurant on Yonge, with doors opening at 7 p.m. Arrive early to partake in the cash bar and antipasto.

The Descant 154: Sicily launch is the perfect place to chat up our Guest Editors Michelle Alfano and Venera Fazio while touring Sicilia through the words of our contributors, as their poetry and prose explore and probe this geographically and historically impressive island.

Don’t miss this exciting evening celebrating Descant 154: Sicily! (In stores September 20, 2011)

Descant’s 40th Anniversary!


You are invited to come and celebrate with us for the Launch of DESCANT 153: Exploring Descant in Past, Present, and Future.

Featured readers for the evening include:
bill bissett
K.V. Skene
Pasha Malla
Steven Heighton
Barbara Schott
and many others.

So come out and enjoy some light food and a cash bar. Tickets are only $10

Time: Wednesday, June 29th ~ 7:30pm

Location: Harbourfront Centre (235 Queens Quay West, Toronto, ON)

DESCANT 152/Ghosts and The Uncanny Launch





Come out and help us celebrate the release of Descant 152: Ghosts and The Uncanny, which will hit store shelves on March 28th.

April 6th at 7:30 p.m.

George Brown House

(186 Beverley St., Toronto)

Enter – if you dare – the beautiful, historic and allegedly haunted George Brown House and be greeted by the eerie music of violinist Phoebe Tsang, of the National Ballet of Canada orchestra. Enjoy readings of fiction, non-fiction and poetry from Descant 152 contributors Richard Rosenbaum, Jennifer Oliver, Kate Cayley and Daniel Zuckerbrot. Help yourself to a drink at our cash bar and mingle with fellow literature and art lovers.

We received more submissions for Descant 152 than ever before in its forty-year history, and Guest Editors Alex Maeve Campbell and Tina Francisco bravely undertook to sift through all of them to bring us this outstanding collection of fiction, poetry, essay, memoir and visual art. The collection takes a daring look into the world of the dead, sometimes
beckoning to it, even daring to interact with it.

The line between life and death is a fine one, Douglas Curran shows us in his memoir, It Happens: The Death of John Kanjadza. Ghosts can be very friendly, as Katherine Hajer shows in her short story The Expected Ghost, or highly malicious, like the ghost in Jay Snodgrass’s poem My Ghost Made an Art Movie, Too. Most often, though, they seem too busy with their own affairs to mind about the living. Ben Rawluk brings the uncanny – a jingle-jangling man made up entirely of light bulbs – right to our doorsteps: “Don’t just stand there,” he writes, berating our open-mouthed shock, “Invite him inside.”

Don’t miss this ghostly gathering! Check out our website after March 18th, 2011 for a sneak peek at the issue.

Winston Collins Winner and Honourable Mentions of 2011


On February 8, 2011 Descant announced the winner and two honourable mentions for this year’s 2011 Winston Collins/Descant Prize for Best Canadian Poem at Supermarket, Toronto. The night went off wonderfully with a speech from Descant’s editor-in-chief, Karen Mulhallen. We were lucky enough to have readings from Linda Woolven, Elisabeth de Mariaffi, Giovanna Riccio and R. Brian Rigg, as well as our three finalists who also read their winning poems (Pamela Porter read via a uTube video).

The winner of the Winston Collins Prize and $1,000 in prize money was Barbara Schott, with her poem Thin Ice. The judges described this winning poem: “This poet has turned a winter drowning into a rumination on our own personal descent into a cold wet world…’Thin Ice’ works on the surface as an accounting of failure, of childhood promise that is doused and expectations disappointed. Yet the beauty of the world surrounds us, our final breath is full of the sight of it…It is a humble poem about the ego and about ego’s loss, and while we submerge into the icy depths we read the poem – it is about us! – scrawled on the bridge above.”

Honourable mention, winning $250 in prize money, was Carla Hartenberger, with Naked in the Sun. The judges spoke highly of this poem, “By the last words of this poem the reader may be filled with such a sense of loss and heartbreak that they may not be sure whether it was the poem that effected them so… That is because the summer that the poet recalls having spent in her youth with a sweetheart resonates so strongly that it will undoubtedly remind the reader of a summer they too had at some time. The poet uses a breathless, frolicking stream of consciousness to achieve this.”

Honourable mention, also winning $250 prize money, Pamela Porter with The Place of Feathers. The judges said this about her poem: “The author sees a landscape covered in feathers and allows herself to come to the conclusion that it was a multitude of angels that passed this way. This short poem describes the way that the natural world can transport us into the realm of myth and narrative. ‘The Place of Feathers’ takes an arresting moment and essentially arrests it, holding us there to feel that moment over and over again.”

The competition was fierce in its fifth anniversary, approximately 100 submissions came in from across Canada—from Victoria, British Columbia to Chateau Guay, Quebec; from Whitehorse, Yukon to Goulds, Newfoundland; from Canadians living as far away as Australia. Two rounds of judging narrowed the list down to 27 contenders, then to the final three.

The event was also for the launch of D151: Winter Reader, which is available in stores now. Descant would like to congratulate Kathleen Painter on organizing a wonderful evening and producing an enchanting issue. If you would like to have one delivered to your home, then please subscribe today by clicking here

Descant would also like to congratulate the three winners, as well as all those who made it onto the short list. We would also like to thank those came to the event on Tuesday 8th, we hope you had an enjoyable evening.