Former Bishop’s students launch Montreal-based literary journal
It took nearly an entire year, but after countless nights spent reviewing and editing essays, poems, fiction and non-fiction stories, the team behind Yolk, a bi-annual literary journal, dropped its first ever issue on Friday.
Alexandre Marceau, the journal’s fiction editor and a former Bishop’s University student, never imagined he and his friends would be able to get Yolk off the ground. It all started last fall, he explained, when he gathered some of his closest friends at a park in Montreal.
The 24-year-old Gaiter got the idea to start a journal while he was busy digitizing The Mitre, the university’s long-standing annual, student-run publication. Josh Quirion, author and a former Bishop’s student, was one of the people huddled in the park with Marceau that day.
“Every time he would come down to Bishop’s we would sort of leave the parties and talk literature, drink our beers and whiskey,” said Marceau. “We sort of had this discussion about how cool it would be to start a journal.”
Quirion now carries the editor in chief title at Yolk. According to
Marceau, production for the journal quickly ramped up. They received hundreds of literary works from all over North America and other parts of the world.
As fiction editor, Marceau said he received roughly 70 submissions. He ultimately decides which stories go into the print edition and which stories get posted online on yolkliterary.ca. The goal is to find the right balance between amateur and seasoned writers.
“We’re publishing both established and emerging writers, and so I think the writing itself a lot of it is very controlled, while a lot of it is almost deliberately uncontrolled,” Marceau said.
In order to fulfill online orders, Yolk partnered with a printing company in the Eastern Townships, Précigrafik. Marceau chose the printing press because of its connection to The Mitre. The first issue, a bound book, contains 146 pages.
“With this first issue what we’re doing is sort of going back to the past, taking the elements we want to use, to resurrect, to bring forward, while also locating that in the present with today’s writers, so it kind of comes around full circle,” he said.
Yolk also sets itself apart from other journals in Quebec due to its Englishlanguage
roots. English is the universal language, Marceau explained, it’s a good way to bring together many different people and cultures.
“I think that the English voice encapsulates so many different voices from Canada, but I think, and a lot of people don’t really realize this about Quebec, but there’s something special about the English language here and something very powerful,” said Marceau.
With one printed issue under their belts, the team at Yolk, which consists of another Bishop’s student Sean Smallwood, is confident about the future of the journal. It took six months to get everything in order for the first issue, but now they have a procedure set in stone.
Yolk plans to team up with the Quebec Writers’ Federation in hopes of conducting writing workshops. They also want to host writing competitions on their website. And the team is organizing unique literature-focused events.
“Our first event, instead of clapping and what not after a poetry reading, we were dressing the poets up in a yellow sort of coat and billy boots and throwing eggs at them, so kind of egg the poet,” Marceau said.
There are a lot of interesting ideas and themes floating around, he continued. However, at the moment, Marceau and the rest of the Yolk team aren’t being compensated for their work. Everything is done in their spare time, from editing to distributing the work.
Marceau said he and Curtis Mcrae, the journal’s creative director, handled the shipping process on Friday. He hopes Yolk can one day become a well-oiled machine. For now, though, the team is looking for support from organizations, including The Canada Council for the Arts.
“We’re either students or working full time, so it’s fully independent and volunteer-based, but the goal is to get some grants and funding,” said Marceau.