Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Arts & Lit - What does that even mean?

"I had no idea there were so many magazines published in Alberta," is a refrain the AMPA staff hear all the time at events. We heard it again at the Calgary Folk Music Festival last weekend, at our booth with Alberta arts, literary and cultural magazines. A lot of you had questions about these particular mags. I hope to elucidate a few things here.

What are arts & literary magazines?
Simply put: magazines that promote art, culture and literature. This often includes a mixture of visual arts (drawing, painting, photography, design) and literary arts (creative writing, non-fiction, poetry, prose, experimental).

Though published on a regular basis like any magazine, the content itself is not bound by time constraints; the purpose is usually to enlighten and showcase the creative talents of writers and visual artists in a local community, country, or worldwide.

In Alberta alone, there are at least a dozen such magazines that operate from government grants, donations, and volunteer hours like dandelion, filling Station, FreeFall, Galleries West, Legacy, Notebook, Other Voices, Penguin Eggs, Prairie Journal, to name a few.

Why do they matter?
Arts and literary magazines have a place in the mag-scape because they provide an alternative voice to content creators and they serve as a forum for creative arts in a paper form. They are often operated by volunteers or collectives, with a specific mandate to provide exposure to a particular group of artists or content (i.e.: contemporary writers in Canada).

Most arts and literary magazines have formed a supportive and active community around them. They hold events like readings, spoken word poetry slams, arts fairs, fundraising events. Magazines like filling Station even promote a Poet's Hotel, where willing participants provide accommodations for visiting writers.

I love them not least because they are so diverse, but also because like any magazine, an editor has done the work for me in selecting quality submissions. Like what all art should do, I find that arts and lit mags elicit emotions, provoke thought, provide inspiration. Knowing the passionate folks who work tirelessly behind the pages helps, too. But really, the content speaks for itself.

Where can I buy an arts and literary magazine?
Distribution for small magazines can be a challenge, and you perhaps you've seen one at an AMPA event that you haven't found anywhere else. I suggest looking at your local independent bookstore. In Calgary, try Pages in Kensington and Owl's Nest Books; in Edmonton, check out Audrey's Books or Greenwood's Bookshoppe.

Go to to see a comprehensive listing of arts and literary magazines in Alberta. Subscribe today and support your arts community, one word at a time.

Friday, July 24, 2009

filling Station brings literary performances to Folk Fest!

Words are folk too!

For the first time ever, literary performances will be part of the Calgary Folk Music Festival!

filling Station
brings you some of Calgary’s best and brightest poets and fiction writers under the sun.

Fill up on inspiration at the inaugural filling Station Tent in the Community Area at Prince’s Island Park throughout Saturday and Sunday July 25th & 26th!

Open Mic: Writers are also invited to bring their own work to read at the Open Mic from 4:30-5:30 both days.

Sign up at the filling Station table any time during the day – first come, first served. Sound set-up includes an XLR & ¼ inch combo input jack for musical instruments and another for iPod, so readers are welcome to incorporate music into their performance if desired!

Reading Schedule

filling Station Tent at Folk Fest ‘09


Hosts: Jani & Joan

Laurie Fuhr –10:15 a.m.

Joan Sarro – 11:30 a.m.

ryan fitpatrick – 12:30 p.m.

Samuel Garrigo Meza – 1:55 p.m.

Colin Martin – 2:55 p.m.

Jani Krulc – 4:15 p.m.

Open Mic: 4:30-5:30


Hosts: Colin & Jocelyn

James Dangerous – 10:15

Jocelyn Grosse – 11:25

Helen Hajnoczky – 12:10

Ali Riley – 2:15

Ian Sampson – 3:25

Ross Priddle – 4:15

Open Mic: 4:30-5:30

For more info on available opportunities, please email

Check out our new website in progress at

Copy Editing with Jaclyn Law

Save the dates!

Copy editing seminars with Jaclyn Law

Edmonton, August 26, 2 to 5pm

Calgary, August 27, 1 to 4 pm

Jaclyn is a former copy editor with Chatelaine and now works with Cottage Life and FASHION magazines.

Her copy editing seminars will go over the importance of copy editing, what it is, what it isn't, common errors, style issues, a section on copy editing for literary mags and plenty of exercises and Q & A so bring your specific questions and challenges!

AMPA Members: $30 if registered by Aug. 7; $35 after Aug. 7

Non-members: $45 if registered by Aug. 7; $50 if registered after Aug. 7

More details to come with locations and a course outline.

Register at or 403-262-0081.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sugarbowl for the Amber Webb-Bowerman Memorial Foundation

The Amber Webb-Bowerman Memorial Foundation invites you to come eat, drink and be merry... and lawn bowl too, of course! Lawn bowling was one of Amber's favourite activities, so what better way to come together and raise money for the foundation. All proceeds will go towards establishing a scholarship endowment fund at SAIT Polytechnic in Amber's name, where she went to school and worked.

Saturday, August 8th, 2009

6:30pm - 10:00pm

Calgary Lawn Bowling Club

1238 - 16 Avenue SW

Calgary, AB

Tickets are $50 for singles or $200 for a team of four. Team registrations get free team buttons customized with your team name!

Registration & free lawn bowling lessons start at 6:30pm and the tourney will kick off at 7:30pm. There will be bragging rights and prizes for winners.

For those who can't make it to the fundraiser, please note that donations are always welcome and appreciated.

Email to register today. (There is a maximum capacity so don't hesitate or you'll miss out on the fun!)

Full details at:

Please spread the word to all your friends, family and colleagues!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

2009 Calgary Folk Festival this week!

Music, sunshine...and magazines?

The staff at AMPA are stoked to be at the Calgary Folk Music Festival this Saturday July 25th and Sunday July 26th in the community area.

Our booth will feature arts, literary and cultural magazines for you to sample, including: dandelion, filling Station, FreeFall, Galleries West, Legacy, Notebook and more.

Visitors will receive a special discount on subscriptions to select magazines, and rad gifts. Plus, you can ask the AMPA staff all your burning questions, such as: how many magazines are published in Alberta? How can I start my own magazine? Why is this province so supportive of independent publishers?

We hope to see you there!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Congrats to Cowboy Country TV for Rosie award win!

Airing this past weekend on Global TV, the 35th Annual Alberta Film & Television Awards, known as the Rosies, celebrated excellence and outstanding achievement in Albertan film, television and new media. The event actually took place back in May in Edmonton.

Among the winners was Cowboy Country, winning the Rosie in the Best Light Info or Lifestyle Series. The Cowboy Country TV series is based on Canadian Cowboy Country magazine. Publisher Rob Tanner is the show's executive producer, and has really made a huge success of his magazine brand extension, bringing the magazine's stories to life on the small screen. "I'm thrilled our industry peers have recognized the quality of our show, and I credit its success to the talent of our production team in bringing to life the stories that have appeared in our magazine," he says.

Kudos to the CCC team!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

New magazine publishers - we want you!

People love magazines. They love magazines for the storytelling. They love them for the artistry. They imbue them with their passions and aspirations. This became abundantly clear to me as I met with new magazine publishers over the last few weeks. I've spoken to an arts magazine, a creative graphic design mag, and a soon-to-be published mag for foodies. Very different subject matters, but what they've got in common is a drive that is fueled by a dream of telling unique and compelling stories. Believe it or not, even high printing costs and the complexities of circulation have not deterred them.

And this is where we come in. AMPA exists as a resource for both emerging and established publishers in Alberta. The industry can seem like a minefield of unknowns, especially for startups. We are here to help answer questions and to drive this home: glossy paper does not a magazine make. Perhaps you've never heard of advertising-editorial guidelines? You should find out what they are if you want to be a magazine readers can trust.

Better yet, we offer Template magazines (definitive how-to guides to magazine publishing in Alberta) available for purchase to anyone. It's a primer for all the questions you never knew you had to ask.

We recommend Template to newbies because they're comprehensive, yet accessible. Templates are the best place to start. Click here for details on how to order copies.

Ultimately, no matter what you say or what you aim to achieve, it's up to your magazine's pages to do the talking.

So, what do you really want to say? Think about it. Then talk to us.

More info:

Monday, July 6, 2009

go Indie Pressers!!!

Late Saturday morning, I strolled down to the Arrata Opera Centre with a couple of friends to check out the treasures at the Independent Press and Arts Fair in conjunction with the 5th Annual Calgary Blow-Out. We were surrounded by amazing zine creation from local, national and international artists. Diving into the pages, we discovered sweet drawings, insightful words, inspiration and hours and hours of work formed in these beautiful objects. Alongside the tables blanketed with zines, other local artists made appearances with their hand made creations - hand dyed silk scarves, photos, jewelery, prints, drawings, sock monkeys just to name a few. My friends walked with a few zines in hand and I with the latest issue of Uppercase magazine and an embroidered badge all the way from Texas!
Huge thanks to filling Station, NoD and CJSW for putting on this event!!!
Next year, I hope to see you and your zine there!


Friday, July 3, 2009

Magazines work during Stampede week. Gasp!

That's not entirely true across the board, but the folks I know put the "over-and-above" in overtime. With Stampede kicking off today in Calgary with an extravagant parade, it seems like the whole city's hunkering down for its annual stay-cation.

Not the case for many Alberta magazines. Long lead-times can mean wrapping up stories for publication in September, perhaps even starting on October stories. The long leads also mean that the majority of mag folks won't get an all-access media pass (too bad!). But that's ok. While you're on the Stampede grounds eating your corn dogs and mini-donuts, Alberta magazines are working furiously behind the scenes. And so are we, here at AMPA. We're open Monday to Friday from 9 to 5, all summer long. Email us, phone us, come visit (just phone the office before dropping by)--we're happy to chat with you whether you're a newbie or seasoned pro.

On a personal note, I plan on hitting at least five pancake breakfasts over the next 10 days. Yahoo! Wish me luck and if you're in Calgary, happy Stampeding!