“White Dresses” – Ruth Daniell

nicolas sanchez-Birthright_jpg

At the open house held the day after the wedding
you did not recognize the bride until you asked

and your mother pointed her out to you.
Surrounded by wrapped gifts and ribbons,

she was wearing an elegant pant suit appropriate
for a garden party, but you were unimpressed:

you remembered the white gown of the day before,
the tiny pearlescent beads sewn all over its bodice

and the flowing skirts, the way the music swelled
around the fabric as she danced with her groom

and it made you understand something big
and important was happening to the bride

and you thought it must have something to do with
the fact she was beautiful. If I had a dress that pretty,

you said with all the wisdom of your five years,
I would wear it every day. Your mother laughed

and the anecdote became famous in the family
as you grew up. Truth is, you still feel this way,

sometimes. Your own white dress is sheathed
in plastic at the back of your closet and you worry

you will never again be as beautiful as you were that one day
you wore it. You worry it is important to be beautiful,

that there are so few ways for you to be seen in this world
because you were a girl and now you are a woman.

these words by Ruth Daniell were inspired by the work of Nicolas V. Sanchez

“storytelling” – jesslyn delia smith

nicolas sanchez-Displace_JPG

i could not see it
before needing a mother,

again,

someone to reframe
a past

no one else
will remember —

there will be days where
you fear your reflection

in that aisle
where they keep frozen food

a parade
will pass
by

they will
all have his face

you will learn how to fold
your body in half

like a woman

let everything
roll down the strands
of your hair

your legs will not hold you
but you will

not need
them by then

these words by jesslyn delia smith were inspired by the work of Nicolas V. Sanchez

“E Flat” – Ivana Velickovic

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The windshield wipers,
unable to keep up
with the onslaught of rain,
conduct the evening’s nocturne,
making the street
seem so soft.

The lights,
they bleed, dissolve,
delicately struggle to keep the night alive
through the threat of approaching dreams.
But they persist,
twinkling like slight touches
on piano keys.
Each flat note an
intentional drip of the rain.

Filmy logos flash like traffic lights,
except they all feel like
green.
Go, quickly now.
And yet I don’t.

I step out of my car,
leave the door wide open.
The streetlights cheer and brighten
as I walk into
a watercolour dream.

 

these words by Ivana Velickovic were inspired by the work of Lin Bao Ling

“Displaced” – Fiona Williams

yellowed nights_linbaoling

I am searching for Home.

I straddle between east and west and belonging has always been evasive.

I am an outsider here but I do not feel so, until they tell me.

It is the same sun that sets in Islamabad and rises in Toronto, isn’t it?
The same sun that kisses my skin but scorches the earth.

So I continue searching.

I have only found comfort in anonymity—
in the sense of security when no one knows my name.

It seems displacement has become a familiar feeling
an existential anxiety that only recognizes a feeling of Calm amongst utter chaos.

I have been searching for Home
and am beginning to realizing
I will only find it within me.

 

these words by Fiona Williams were inspired by the work of Lin Bao Ling

Opening: Reading Coordinator

The Reading Coordinator organizes literary readings with Word and Colour authors and similar writers in the Montreal community. They share the work with the Managing Editor and Community Outreach coordinator, organizing readings at least once per season.

Because Word and Colour is a collective of volunteers working under the mission to confront oppression with words inspired by colour, an ideal candidate would benefit from the position for their professional experience, as it is a volunteer role with the rest of our team. Readings

In general, the Reading Coordinator:

  • finds an appropriate venue;
  • arranges audio equipment;
  • works with the graphic design team for posters;
  • works with the social media team for marketing,
  • and works with the Managing Editor to establish a roster of readers.

To apply, contact word@wordandcolour.com by September 15th with a resume and an answer to the question: why do readings matter?

“Starlight” – Nailah King

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Lena loved to move.

Through space, through life and across lands.

The first thing she ever learned when travelling is that, as you land, the lights dotted along the skyline will take your breath away.

One summer she crept onto roofs in Barcelona waiting for nightfall. Against the purple sky, lights twinkled back at her, the warm air rushing over her, her wine-kissed lips chapped against the sea air.

In movement, she felt free. Each new place cast a spell on her—she walked differently. Sometimes a stride of confidence, sometimes one of fear.

Her mother often asked her: “When are you going to settle down? When will your heart be still?”

She couldn’t answer.

Her mind was often so cluttered. A voice would whisper darkness into her ear. When she couldn’t move, she woke up, either alone or with a lover, in despair.

Many nights she’d walk along the train tracks behind her childhood home, wondering if she’d be hit and if she’d be grateful. Or, sometimes, she wondered if she could run fast enough to hop onto the train and ride it to places unknown.

Bright lights were a beacon of hope; new experiences and people.

On sleepless nights, she curled up by the window waiting for sunlight. Her body marked by tiny incisions from the past, she thought about each scar—a map of the past. She wondered why there weren’t passports for sorrow. To mark the ebb and flow of sadness and joy, destruction and rebuilding, regression and growth.

Once, when she was in the hospital, she booked a flight on her phone.

The nurse screamed at Lena but it didn’t really matter. The nurse’s words sounded warped, gargled even, the onslaught of disappointment and disbelief drifted over her. All she could hear was the sound of the ocean. She closed her eyes.

She heard the blaring sound of the train horn and raced along the tracks, dawn rising behind her.

 

these words by Nailah King were inspired by the work of Lin Bao Ling

“Tickets and Rides” – Josh Elyea

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The neon from the carnival lights, bright against the black sky, hurts my eyes when I stare at it for too long. It’s hard to tell where the light ends and the black begins; no matter how hard I try to hone in on the exact place where they meet, the edge never reveals itself. Sometimes our love is like that, too; even when I want to, I can never really find where the good bits stop and the bad bits start.

It feels as though something horrible is about to happen; the air is heavy, laden, just as it is before the breaking of a storm. I like storms. I remember fondly those moments when I would sit, as a child, on the porch swing with my mother and we’d watch the thunder clouds roll in across the fields. With the defiance found only in youth, I’d scream back towards the lightning with all the breath in my lungs, as my mother shook her head.

You have to whisper to the thunder, she’d say. That’s the only way it can hear you.

My wife looks like my mother, a little.

 The heavy air feels hot on my skin, and I worry my hands are too clammy to reach out and grasp the woman next to me. I do it anyway. As I do, I say that ferris wheels aren’t supposed to move this fast, my darling. They aren’t supposed to fly.

Cotton candy flavored kisses, corny lines like you complete me, cocaine drips and my corduroys rubbing together with that shhhk, shhhk. The drugs were her idea, I swear. Something about shaking the monotony of Saturday night rituals, of having a suburban crisis of faith.  

Stopped at the top, I stare deep into the sky. It’s moving, like a Rorschach without the white. Pulsing, and at the very edges of my eyes, from below, the neon creeps into view. Who knew a glimpse into the abyss could be bought with a single carnival ticket. Here I thought it would cost me a white picket fence.

 

these words by Josh Elyea were inspired by the work of Lin Bao Ling

“And I Inhale Again” – Nahomi Amberber

Babe-in-the-Woods---Selina-Vesely-(2015)

I lay myself down in between you
And us
And inhale.
You do not smell like home
Like they said you would.
You smell like old pine trees and the mud they root themselves in,
And I inhale again.
I begin to weep and you ask me why;
“You smell like land unconquered,” I say.
“You smell like a dream.”

these words by Nahomi Amberber were inspired by the work of Selina Vesely

“Beige” – Jo-Ann Zhou

Icy-Void---Selina-Vesely-(2017)

The oddest thing about this new land was the blandness of things constructed by people. She remarked on her first day that all the houses were more or less the same colour. They were brown or grey, or varying combinations of brown and grey. Occasionally a house would have a colourful door. She learnt about a third colour, beige, that described most of the houses in her new land, and she decided it was also the best way to describe the food.

All the food was varying shades of brown and beige. Potato. Bread. Noodles. Meat. Repeat. All brown or beige. Sometimes there were splashes of red for things that were supposed to taste like tomatoes, like this sweet concoction ketchup, but it really didn’t taste like tomatoes at all. Apparently there were colourful foods in this new land too but someone told her that not everyone could afford them.

By far the best thing about this new land were the colours in the trees and on the ground. In summer, there were so many shades of green. It seemed almost a shame that there was just one word—green—to describe all of these magnificent colours, as if a mere word could capture the magic of this land of forests. Back home, all the trees and bushes were the same dull matte green covered by a thick film of grime. In retrospect, maybe her old land was best described by that new word, beige, when it came to the flora.

She was pleasantly surprised by the explosion of oranges, reds, yellows and purples that came in autumn, another new word, and was amazed by the new textures of the leaves which crunched beneath her feet. When winter came, the newest word of all, the white was blindingly beautiful; she wanted to touch it all the time, except that it was cold and afterwards her hands would turn red.

The white stayed for a very long time, much longer than the greens, the oranges and the yellows. She could tell her parents were getting impatient with the white and browns. How dull this was, especially next to the brown houses and the brown food, they complained. They missed the colourful houses, the colourful foods. They missed seeing plants all year round, even if they were dull matte green and covered in grime. Sometimes they were so sad they would cry, or yell at each other, or call family back home to cry and yell. She thought about how happy they had been when they first arrived, when the colours were there to welcome them.  She was certain that there were still colours out in the woods, and she decided to go collect some to make her parents happy again.

Down the road from her new brown-and-beige house was a little pond covered with a thin layer of grey-white ice. The ice, which had previously been solid white-blue, had begun to turn into lacey webs, peeking through to still dark grey water. She peered over the side of the pond and spied some reds and oranges. The leaves from autumn! They were still there, in the dark grey water, just beyond the thin white ice. How lovely it would be to rescue the trapped colourful leaves from their cold wet prison, and bring them home to make her parents happy again. She would dry them off and make a bouquet, she decided. Slowly, she shifted herself down, sliding her purple boots onto the grey-white ice, over to the edge of the dark grey water, when she heard a CRACK beneath her feet.

The local newspaper tweeted the next morning: “Illegal immigrant, aged 6, dead in Greenpoint Pond.”  The comments read: “serves them right anyway, they get what they deserve,” “now deport her family before they get on our EI.”

 

these words by Jo-Ann Zhou were inspired by the work of Selina Vesely

 

From the author: Aside from the ending, the rest of the piece is actually based entirely off of my own personal experience; even though I was born in Canada, I moved abroad to Peru when I was a baby (thus the inspiration for the “beige” land, since Lima is very dusty) and moved back when I was five years old. So, even though I’m “Canadian” I still feel as though I’ve lived through the “immigrant experience” since I had to learn the language and get used to the new food and customs. I wanted to write a piece that conveyed the mixed emotions of arriving in a new country: the excitement of discovering new things  but also missing certain things from home. As a kid, that also meant watching my parents work through those emotions too, which I partially conveyed here. The jarring ending is a second commentary on my experience as a “kind of immigrant”; most of the time I love living in Canada and have a great sense of wonder and respect for it, but this is occasionally jolted by rude comments from strangers who don’t think that immigrants belong. The juxtaposition is meant to show the reader how jarring these comments can be, as they often come totally unprovoked and with no context.