Author: untetheredmagazine

Anthology Submission Call

untethered is excited to announce its first-ever anthology, coming Summer 2018!

We’re publishing the first-ever (we think) Canadian anthology of short short prose. Flash fiction, postcard stories, micro-fiction, short-shorts, flash memoirs, prose poems, poetic prose, vignettes—whatever you want to call them—anything 750 words or less.

Check out our submission guidelines here, and send us your best dangerously short prose by November 11th, 2017.

Author Interview Series: An interview with untethered 3.2 contributor, Ellie Sawatzky

Check out the first instalment of our new author interview series!

Interview by Matthew Walsh

untethered recently published Ellie Sawatzky’s story “Retreat” in their current Spring 2017 issue. Sawatzky, a graduate of the University of British Columbia’s MFA program for creative writing, has had work published in numerous places, including Room, SAD Mag, The Puritan, Prairie Fire, and Arc. I got to sit down and talk to her about her new work, her characters, and where her stories come from.

In the opening paragraph of your story, readers are introduced to Nora, the main character. She admires persistence, and likes succulent plants because she can leave them. She’s a great, well-rounded character with a lot of insight in some ways, not in others. How did you come up with this character, and is she based on anyone you know?

I went through a few stages with Nora as a character. This story first came into the world as a narrative poem I wrote called “The House Where My Mother and I Began” and it was a mostly fictionalized conception story. So before Nora was Nora she was this mother figure in my (“my”) conception story. But I actually think there’s a lot of me in Nora, in the way she thinks and processes, and especially her guilty conscience. Usually my characters are based on people I know, or they’re collaged together with bits and pieces of people in my life. Nora’s a collage.

The details of the driving route Nora takes is very vivid and real, as she drives through rural British Columbia. Is this a drive you have done yourself?

I haven’t done the drive as an adult, but my parents lived in northern British Columbia (in Houston, where the story takes place) until I was four, and we went back to visit when I was eleven or twelve. The house and property in the story are inspired by the house I lived in until I was four. Many of the details — such as the garden, the garage, and the outhouse from Nora’s parents’ wedding — come from my own memories of my first home. Nora’s memory of the baby mice comes from one of my own experiences as well. My dad actually gave me a nest of baby mice to play with when I was three or four years old. I think it scarred me a little.

Nora moves between her memories and her reality in this story, and there’s a lot of detail in this story. Are there any memories or moments you cut out, either because it didn’t ring true to Nora’s character, or because you felt it belonged in another story, or part of another project?

So as I said, this story was originally a poem, and when I first wrote it as a short story, I maintained the framing of it as a conception story. So the story unfolded from the perspective of Nora’s future daughter, imagining the events leading up to the moment she was conceived. I was inspired by the Alice Munro story “My Mother’s Dream”. I still like that framing of the story, and I think there’s still an echo of it in this version, but I cut it because I felt I should allow the story to unfold from Nora’s perspective.

Having read a few of your poems and stories at UBC, I noticed that horses and animals show up in your work a lot. Are horses something you grew up around in Ontario?

There were actually horses in the neighbours’ yard in the house we lived in in BC, and I loved them. I always wished I lived on a farm. After we moved to Ontario we had some neighbours who kept goats, and I milked their goats for them when they went away.

I love how art figures into this story, down to the last scene and moment. There is a mention of painters Kandinsky and Pollock, and one character who “smears paint around trying to make sense of the mess.” Nora is sort of doing something similar, trying to put her memories together, and pulling things apart. Is there some relation between this story, and the messy, pulled-together feeling that abstract paintings sometimes have?

Definitely. I intended for Dale’s abstract paintings to function as a metaphor for the messiness of our lives, and the stories of our lives. I think those two things are very different — our lives vs. the different versions of stories we tell ourselves about our lives. How we interpret our lives. And this starts to get especially messy when you factor in other people’s interpretations of your life. For example, Nora’s version of things vs. her brother Jack’s version of things. Nora and Dale are on the same journey, in that they’re both trying to make sense of their messy lives, and they are both working through this on a surface level — Dale by smearing paint around, and Nora by cleaning all the junk out of her childhood home.

Nora “had once read that birthmarks were caused by unsatisfied wishes of the mother during pregnancy.” Was that something you heard growing up, or something you came across in a book, or the internet?

I can’t actually remember where I read that. I think I may have just been googling random things (as I do) and came across it on Wikipedia or something like that.

There are a lot of details that tell readers something about the characters and environment in this story. Is that how a story comes to you, through these little details, or is it based on a personal moment, something you read in the newspaper?

It’s usually a landscape that comes to me first, and with that come the little details of that landscape, the trees, plants, roads, houses. Then I can start to build the narrative, once I’ve imagined that place.

Is this story part of a larger project, a series of stories or a manuscript?

Yes. This story is from my short story manuscript, The Study of Hidden Animals.

If you’d like to read Ellie’s story, “Retreat”, you can order a copy of untethered 3.2 here.

Issue 3.2 Saskatoon Launch Photos!

Thanks so much to everyone who came to our FIRST ever Saskatoon launch party! Thank you to all of our exceptional readers, from our new issue as well as almost every other issue, and to our amazing performers, Goose Lake (did you know they have a bandcamp site where you can buy their music on the internet — check it out!). Thanks as well to Amigos for hosting us, to our awesome untethered table volunteer, Simon Bohm, and to Shannon McConnell for taking some great photos! Let’s do it again, yeah?

If you missed the chance to buy a copy of the new issue, or any of our back issues, no worries — you can still do so on our website!


Danica Lorer reading poems from our new issue, as well as others from the same series!


Lindsay Kiesman reads poems from our new issue — and some new work!


Credence McFadzean drove up from Regina to read from his personal essay, “Taking the Greyhound from Regina, SK to Revelstoke, BC.”


Co-editor of untethered, Nicole Haldoupis, introducing the amazing Dave Margoshes.


Dave Margoshes reads poems from issue 3.1 and a brand new poem (that he wrote the night before the launch and still managed to blow us away)!


Shannon McConnell reads work from issue 3.1 as well as probably the most entertaining tinder poem you’ve ever heard.


Rachel Laverdiere reading for the FIRST time ever, from her story in issue 2.2 of untethered!


Meaghan Hackinen (did you know she just biked across the continent?!) reading us some sweet nonfiction from issue 2.1 and talking about her experiences on bike! 


Sara-Jane Keith (Gloutnez), our first and only first place poetry contest winner so far, whose winning poem was published in issue 2.1 and who we were so excited to finally have on our stage, doing an eco-friendly reading of an excerpt from her novel — part of which is published in issue 3.1 of untethered!


dee Hobsbawn-Smith reading some new poetry, as well as excerpts from her essay, “Floodplain” in issue 1.2 of untethered! 


Goose Lake, made up of Ashton Klassen and Courtney Loberg (a contributor to issue 2.2 of untethered — buy her graphic novel!), treating us to some moody pop tunes after the readings.

Saskatoon Launch Party for Issue 3.2

Hey Saskatoon! We’re having a second launch party for issue 3.2 in your fine city and we want you to join us! We’ll be featuring Saskatchewan contributors from our new issue, as well as past issues.

Where: Amigos Cantina in the back room (806 Dufferin Avenue, near Broadway and Main)

When: Thursday, July 6th at 7pm

What to expect: 

  • readings by Saskatchewan contributors from a variety of issues, including Meaghan Hackinen (issue 2.1), dee Hobsbawn-Smith (issue 1.2), Lindsay Kiesman (issue 3.2), Sara-Jane Keith (Gloutnez) (issues 2.1 and 3.1), Rachel Laverdiere (issue 2.2), Danica Lorer (issue 3.2), Dave Margoshes (issue 3.1), Shannon McConnell (issue 3.1), and Credence McFadzean (issue 3.2)
  • performance by Goose Lake, an electronic folk pop duo that includes a contributor to untethered issue 2.2, Courtney Loberg
  • cash bar (and the amazing food of Amigos)
  • copies of our NEW issue at a special launch price of $10, AND copies of our back issues for $5

Reader Profiles

Meaghan Hackinen

Meaghan Hackinen is a Vancouver-born bicycle enthusiast, roller skater, and adventure seeker. Meaghan graduated from the University of Saskatchewan’s MFA in Writing program in the fall of 2016. Her thesis South Away: The Pacific Coast on Two Wheels and other non-fiction work explores relationships, experiences on the road, and encounters with wild places. Meaghan’s work has appeared in Cargo Literary, The Fieldstone Review, One Throne, untethered, and the Tonight It’s Poetry anthology, Poetry All Over the Floor. Her essay “Where the Tide Rushes Between” was a 2016 National Magazine Awards finalist.

dee Hobsbawn-Smith

dee Hobsbawn-Smith’s poetry, essays, fiction and journalism has appeared in newspapers, websites, magazines, anthologies and literary journals in Canada, the USA and Scotland, including Grain, Gastronomica: The Journal of Culture and Food, The Malahat Review, Prairie Fire, The Antigonish Review, Vallum, CV2, FreeFall, and others. In 2015-16, she served as the Saskatoon Public Library’s 35th Writer in Residence. A retired chef, ex-restaurateur and former newspaper columnist, she lives west of Saskatoon and earned her MFA in writing at the University of Saskatchewan. She has published seven books. Foodshed: An Edible Albert Alphabet (Touchwood, 2012) won three international awards for its unflinching examination of the politics and challenges of small-scale sustainable food production. Her first collection of poetry, Wildness Rushing In (Hagios, 2014) was a finalist for Book of the Year and Best Poetry Collection at the Saskatchewan Book Awards. It was followed by her first short fiction collection, What Can’t Be Undone (Thistledown, 2015). Most recently, she has completed a new poetry manuscript, and is nearly done working on her debut novel. Last year, she contributed to the SK poetry anthology, Line Dance (Burton Books, 2016), edited by Gerald Hill, and was part of a contingent of Canadian poets who read at The Bowery Poetry Club in New York City. Visit her online at

Lindsay Kiesman

Lindsay Kiesman is a writer from the prairies. She is currently completing an MFA at the University of Saskatchewan. Though she primarily explores science and speculative fiction, she enjoys stretching her creative imagination in other genres.

Sara-Jane Kieth

Sara-Jane Keith (Gloutnez) is a graduate of the MFA in writing at U of S where she is currently completing an MA in English (cultural studies). She was the co-founder of The River Volta Reading Series and co-editor of Between the Lines (Vol. 3), an anthology of hockey poetry. She is currently editing her first novel, writing articles, and finishing a thesis (about Donald Trump). Among publishing credits with (parenthetical), The Quilliad, and untethered, her poem “Jared and Luann pt. 2” was selected by George Elliott Clarke as the winner of untethered‘s 2015 poetry competition. A graduate of York University (English, writing), she resides in Saskatoon with her husband and two cats. You can sometimes find her on stage performing improv and stand-up.

Rachel Laverdiere

Rachel Laverdiere writes and teaches in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Her prose and poetry has been published in over a dozen North Amerian literary journals, including Gravel, FreeFall, filling Station, Dime Show Review, and The Oleander Review. You can follow her on Twitter @r_laverdiere or learn more at

Danica Lorer

Danica Lorer’s name sits in the word explorer. She has always lived in Saskatchewan where she finds curiosities in fields, forests, riverbanks, cities, small towns, and libraries. Over the past eighteen years as a professional storyteller, Danica’s favourite listeners and workshop participants have been 0-103 years old.

Dave Margoshes

Saskatoon-area writer Dave Margoshes has published five poetry collections. The most recent, Dimensions of an Orchard, won the 2010 Saskatchewan Book Awards Poetry Prize. His short fiction has appeared six times in the Best Canadian Stories volumes and he’s been a finalist for the Journey Prize. His Bix’s Trumpet and Other Stories was Book of the Year in the 2007 Saskatchewan Book Awards and was a ReLit Award finalist. His collection of linked short stories, A Book of Great Worth, was named one of’s Top Hundred Books of 2012. A new poetry collection will be published next spring by Coteau Books.


Shannon McConnell is a writer, teacher and musician from Vancouver, British Columbia. She is currently completing her MFA in writing at the University of Saskatchewan. Shannon’s fiction and poetry has appeared in The Society, Tonight It’s PoetryPoetry All Over The Floor anthology, The Fieldstone Review, The Louden Singletree, untethered, and The Rat’s Ass Review.

Credence McFadzean

Credence McFadzean is a Saskatchewan-based fiction writer and poet with an MA in creative writing. His work has appeared in Matrix and Road Maps & Life Rafts, and he is pleased to have a new personal essay in the latest untethered. Credence will be teaching English at Luther College (U of R) in Fall 2017.


Band Profile

goose lake 2

Goose Lake is a moody pop band made up of Ashton Klassen and Courtney Loberg. They started playing together eight years ago in Northern Alberta.