“Diaspora Blues” – Nailah King

SHANNA STRAUSS_ Hadithi Njoo_ Mixed media on wood_ 24in x 30''

“Where are you from?”

He was asked this often and the answer was always difficult. What they needed to understand was his journey didn’t start here but a place miles and miles away among lush earth and under a coral sun. Massive ships sailed to the shoreline taking whoever couldn’t escape, headed to the unknown. Those they captured cruised through seas and oceans but many died along the way.

He imagined that his ancestors made a break for it and ended up in the Caribbean. Warm shores, tropical fruit, sun, sand, but far from home.

Some of his friends talked about creating family trees on the internet, talked about their families. Uncle John is married to Auntie Lynn. They met in university in the ’80s. How nice to have an ancestry so clear and defined, despite having robbed others of the same.

He often thought about them.

It made him angry to think about a known point in his bloodline where the stories stopped. He couldn’t get stories about any time before his great-grandparents. Even those stories were limited. His parents couldn’t even remember their names.

They talked about carnival, Kadooment days of the past, in great detail. The costumes, the music and the food. Who they saw and who they danced with. They didn’t want to think about that dark history; about who before them could have been slaves.

What he knew of any place was a story. Even in Canada.

He’d never been to Whistler—or even Banff. He remembers the Rockies from a train ride they took when he was very young. His mother told him that the mountains were beautiful and breathtaking. He just remembered a flash of brown and grey rock and wanting to use the bathroom.

Sometimes, he remembers the beaches. The smell of the sea and the sound of his grandmother’s voice.

He wondered, did she think about them, his ancestors?

His friends often questioned him about his heritage. “There’s no information earlier than your great-grandparents?” they’d ask him.

Depending on his mood, sometimes he understood their incredulity. With modern technology like ancestry.ca, and 23andme, he should have been able to make inroads, progress.

Still, he didn’t want simply names. He wanted their stories.

He wanted to know what Africa was like, what life was like before lives were taken. Before histories were skewed, erased or lost.

It was good enough for them to have their meaningless anecdotes about how their uncles, aunts and whoever else got together. He wanted more.

Each year, a new patch of information came to the fore through old photographs, family connections or new stories.

Still, he wondered about them.

Who did they love, or lose? Did they know it was the last time they’d see their lands and what would happen to the generations that followed? Did they have hope they’d return?

“Dude, you totally drifted off.”

“Oh, I’m from Vancouver.


these words by Nailah King were inspired by the work of Shanna Strauss

“Balanced,” New Poetry by Ivana Velickovic

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You asked me if I thought
you were pretty.
Pretty is relative only to
everything besides oneself.
When I stare deeply into the mirror
I become confused.
There are two versions,
one always melting into
the other.

The first: a goddess,
black magic turned blue.
A garland of roses
atop my head,
pure and perfumed.

The second: relative.
A wise aunt who shares dark eyes.
A brave father who shares resilient,
smooth skin.

You liked the idea that beauty
is ancestral and proud.
You asked how you could come to wear
a garland made of roses.
Together we looked in the mirror
and I removed my garland,
delicate as a newborn.

I let it settle on your head.
I let it bring you balance.


these words by Ivana Velickovic were inspired by the work of Angela Pilgrim



Hey mate. Howyagoin?

Good mate. Fark mate—you look like shit.

Haven’t slept mate. I was up all night with that farkin chick that was hangin off me at the party—you know that one with her tits out?

Aw—shit yeah. She was farked mate!

So farked. And when I said I was goin home she started farkin crying! I mean—fark!

Fark mate!

Yeah. Fark. I couldn’t farkin be bothered with it. And then she farkin spewed everywhere—

No way! Gross!

So gross. In her hair and shit. And she reeked! So I took her upstairs—

Didya root her?


Yeah—not worth it mate.

Wasn’t keen. She was cryin and yellin out after me but fark, I hardly know the girl. I went home then but it was like 5 in the farkin morning.


Yeah. And she had this stupid heart-shaped tattoo on her neck. I hate that shit. Tattoos n’shit—they make girls look so cheap.

But not always hey—like my sister’s got a rainbow on her back and it’s kind of nice, y’know? Colourful n’shit.

Oh yeah, some are nice, yeah.


Troy’s mums got one on her arm. She got it when she was young but she told me she’s proud of it though—and she said there’s no point hiding who you once were.

True man.

Yeah. That was actually kind of inspiring to hear her say man.

Yeah, it is pretty inspiring ay.

Yeah, like it makes me feel like maybe it’s okay to make mistakes… Or that maybe there are no mistakes—y’know?


 …wannanother beer mate?

Yeah mate!

word by Laura Helen McPhee Browne

colour by KOSO



“I fell in love with you the first time I saw you fall off a horse.”

Her eyes are watery, glistening in their sockets. I can’t tell if it’s drool running over my lips and down my chin and neck or just some bruised emotional response to what’s happened, happening.

“You’re so stupid.”

She’s wiping at her eyelashes. If she keeps doing it I feel she’ll have no eyelashes left by this time next week. The window is open and all I can think is I know the mosquitoes are eating me alive and I can’t feel it. Most people unconsciously wish they could live a life in which mosquito bites don’t itch, can’t be felt. Others don’t mind the actual itching and scratching, finding themselves more inclined to fume at the violation of it all, the unseen bloodsucking and flying off into the night.

“I told you not to go.”

I think what happened was I drank a little too much, as is habit, and walked or stumbled out to the stables, snuck a horse out with what I can only imagine as indescribable grace and horsemanship, thereupon divining myself up onto it’s back, into the saddle… And there’s where all memory stops. And if I’m being honest, something I am not necessarily known for among both friends and enemies- everything I just remembered could be made up. I’d cry if I could feel anything physical. Not for me, but for this girl that knows the truth, the reality that I can’t remember. I can hear Sarah, and I think I can see her, but what I am listening to could be nothing more than unreality catching up with me. She sobs uncontrollably and I see her right arm, the good one, swing and slap my left arm. I can’t feel it and though my head wants to whip toward her in some accusatory fashion, nothing happens.

I fell in love with Sarah under a harvest moon. Sarah says it was blue and I made a mental note to check and see if harvest moons are ever blue. I never checked. I told her before we got serious that I can’t really have friends because I fall in love too quickly, platonic, heart-love, sexual fantasy, all of them separately but often attributed to the same person. And as a result I end up hurting everyone, like a man made of plutonium, some inevitable occurrence will disrupt my atmosphere and I’ll blow up and there won’t be anything left of us: and so I lie. I lie and never stop lying.

And now in an ironic twist of fate, here I am lying, on my back, catheter rooted and probably a dish of some kind caressing my naked buttocks, tubes jutted unfelt into my skin and veins, into my blood and the girl I may have actually changed for is crying and pulling out her eyelashes and I can’t even muster up the words, “It’s okay.”

word by Anthony Statham

colour by Sarah Burwash

Find me


Find me. Find her finding people to sift through. Find them in class, hearing words about a genocide over bananas, googling new grocery stores. Find the person in the lab, contrasting numbers. Find her on the keys at night, touching, never pressing, etching circles on a ledger line. Find them on the computer, scrolling through photographs, selecting, saving, liking, loving. Find her rejecting the cover band, preferring anything unique, ting of spoon on pint glass. Find him hunting down ideas to disagree with, the comments footer a better place to hide than bottles. Find her buying wood, screws, straight angles. Find him touching sleeves, shaping hierarchies of style for the week. Find them preferring women when they are quiet, telling sisters not to wear makeup. Find me.

colour by Elian & Seth

words by L. L.