Litmag Profiles: untethered

For the second installation of Qwerty’s #litmaglove -fest, we lurk around Toronto a moment longer to salute untethered. Read on and meet our new friends, and check out their first-ever poetry contest!

Living the litmag shelf dream at McNally Robinson in Saskatoon.

Living the litmag shelf dream at McNally Robinson in Saskatoon.

Q: How long has your magazine been running, and how many issues do you publish per year?

U: We publish two issues per year. We launched our first issue this past August 2014 and our second one in February 2015, and our next will be launched this coming summer. (The deadline for submissions is May 3rd!)

Q: Where is your magazine based? Are you affiliated with a post-secondary institution?

U: untethered is based in Toronto and completely independent.

Q: Do you publish in print, online, or both?

U: We publish in print, with the exception of excerpts posted on our website to promote upcoming issue.

Q: Current editors: please introduce yourselves.

U:  Nicole Haldoupis, Co-Founder & Editor-in-Chief. Nicole is a writer, editor, and designer currently living in Saskatoon and working towards an MFA in Writing at the University of Saskatchewan. She’s been a production editor at Descant and an art editor at Existere. She has recently been published in The Quilliad and (parenthetical), which are both awesome Toronto-based publications.

Stephanie McKechnie, Co-founder & Prose Editor. Stephanie is a feminist writer dedicated to environmental and social justice. She completed a BA in Professional and Creative Writing at York University. She is published in Existere and Grain Magazine and was shortlisted in PRISM International’s 2013 Literary Non-Fiction Contest. Though her feet often lead her elsewhere, Stephanie calls Toronto home. Co-creating untethered is her most recent plunge into the unknown and slightly terrifying.

Sophie McCreesh, Co-founder & Poetry Editor. Sophie is an MFA candidate in creative writing at the Unversity of Guelph. She enjoys writing poetry and fiction. She lives in Toronto.

Q: Describe the ethos of your magazine in three words (or more).

U: Keep print alive, relevant and untethered.

Q: What kind of submissions are you looking for?

U: untethered is looking for all sorts of material from new and established writers. We accept original, unpublished fiction, non-fiction, poetry, comics, and visual art (including, but in no way limited to, illustrations, photography). We want your honest thoughts and opinions, exploratory stories, and writing that generally breaks the norm in content and form. 

Q: What are some of the ways your journal engages with its local writing community?

U: We try to attend and promote as many local literary events as we can to keep the community close. We’ve made many friends in Toronto’s literary community (which is a big one) and we are always striving to make new ones, and we’ve gotten to know writers and editors from across the country. All three editors have interned or volunteered at Descant Magazine where we learned our magazine-running basics. But the magazine itself is a great place for new local writers to submit and get published or feedback—we’d like to think we’ve created a welcoming and warm literary space at our launch parties where folks of all ages engaged in the local arts come out to support one another.

Q: What are some of the difficulties of operating as a student-run litmag?

U: Well, the fact that we actually find time to do any of the work we do is sometimes baffling. We all work, some of us multiple jobs, going to classes, writing our own stuff and then trying to squish untethered into any spare time we have left. It’s just the three of us. But it’s because we’re all writers that we want to create this venue for others like us. Funding a student-run lit mag is the biggest hurdle we’ve had to overcome. While we are very lucky to have the fantastic donors that we do, it’s hard to run a magazine on good will and hard work—and that’s pretty much what we’re doing. Since we are students, we personally never had much money to put into untethered ourselves—we have had to rely very heavily on Toronto and Canada’s literary community and the generosity of other artists to fund each issue. It’s hard to draw the interest of the high-calibre writers that other journals do without being able to offer competitive, or even substantial, payment for publication.

Q: What is the most exciting part of being a student-run litmag?

U: The most exciting part is being able to showcase the work of new writers and artists next to established ones, and creating spaces for emerging artists to realize they might have something great going for them. It’s great to watch someone who’s never read in front of people before get comfortable with the audience.

It’s a huge honour to be part of the excitement of sharing a writer’s work and getting it out there, and helping to make that happen feels so good.

One of the contributors from our second issue, Patrick O’Reilly, was asked to sign a copy of untethered and his response was, “No one’s ever asked me to sign anything before.” It’s moments like these that make it worthwhile.

Q: Any last words, shout-outs, memorable 90s song lyrics to quote, etc.?

U: We want to give a huge shout-out to Descant Magazine, as without them we would probably have no idea how to do any of this magazine stuff. We also wanted to mention that they are having their final farewell party on March 25th in Toronto. It’s a free event, so if you’re in town and can attend to honour the great work of this fantastic journal over the past 44 years, please do!

We would like to thank our readers, contributors and donors for believing in us, and spreading the word of our new publication. After only two issues, we have a small readership that we hope to keep. We also want to send love to Lesley Kenny, Fairy Gawdmother of untethered, for being an extremely sharp-eyed editor and generally making our wishes come true.

We would also like to take this opportunity to announce our submission call for our third issue and our first POETRY CONTEST! PRIZE $200. The contest will be judged by Toronto’s Poet Laureate, George Elliott Clarke. Deadline to Submit: April 26th. Entry fee: $10. Details at: www.alwaysuntethered.com.

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