thecanadaproject interviews Shazia Hafiz Ramji

thecanadaproject interviews Shazia Hafiz Ramji, curator for LineBreak at subTerrain:

Q: What influences did you draw upon in creating this new online publication?

shazia R avatarA:
I drew from very early issues of subTerrain that featured some experimental work, comics, photography and photo essays. subTerrain continues to have fantastic illustrators for each issue, so there’s always been an art component. As well, I thought about BOMB Magazine and the way their mix of literary, art, and criticism coheres so well that it feels seamless. Definitely one of my favourite mags. With respect to the crossover between literature and art in particular, I had in mind work by Ian Wallace, Dan Graham, Ben Kinmont, Derek Beaulieu, Kate Armstrong, Tom Phillips, and J.R. Carpenter. I believe I was also thinking of Aspen, Fluxus and Impulse magazines, as well as Peter and Meredith Quartermain’s Slug Press.

Q: What’s your long term vision for Line Break and any thoughts so far on how to build an online community to discuss poetry and art?

A: Line Break will remain online and we’ll publish occasionally. We received a limited amount of funding for the project, so any future contributions will not receive compensation. I feel sad about this, but it’s what happens when things are short-lived “projects.”

Q: How does Tumblr offer you inspiration as a publication space rather than, for instance, wordpress?

A: Ah, the wonderful world of Tumblr that turns into a porno show at night. We went with Tumblr because it was compatible, free, customizable, and works well for images and text together. As well, Tumblr has an active, inbuilt community of its own. It was exciting to find new followers and introduce them to Line Break and subTerrain.

Q: Would you describe yourself as an artist, publisher, poet, writer…etc I’m very interested in how you frame this idea of intersection between literary and artistic, and then between literary critique and poetry?

Framing the intersection between literary critique and poetry. I think I came at this intersection from a feeling of lack. As someone who writes and edits reviews and poems on a regular basis, I have always felt the need for “real” conversation, if I can say so. I feel as though there is a false public sphere, which takes on the guise of public relations, such as when reviewing books and talking about books. Everything is “awesome” and “cool” and “great.” And I feel sick of it. The reason I wanted to incorporate “responses” to poems is because I wanted to see how people talk about a poem on a very particular level—how and if they take the risk of speaking publicly about their experience with the poem, divorced from context. I think what drew me to this intersection was the realization that sometimes I see poetry and art as the same thing, and that’s exciting. Often during visits to galleries, I have felt an itch to write a response to an art piece i.e. “ekphrastic writing.” I feel that poetry and art both share the necessity for a particular kind of attention. I thought I could try to bring this together in the “Poets Among Artists” section.

Q: Love the multiple word-plays on “line break’ and how this title allows for cross-genre conversation. How do you envision keeping the conversation about poetry and art, going? e.g. on social media, in person, via mini-posted essays, responses to Line Break…

A: Thanks, Renée. I’m glad you like the title and see its cross-genre potential. I think we’ll keep it going on an occasional basis, and if someone wants to send us their poem-art-critique thing, by all means, please get in touch with me. I personally intend to keep it going with occasional responses to poem-art things and/or poems and art.

Check out Line Break Here

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