#271-Celestial Chill, 18"x18", Acrylic, 2024

Wishes rarely come true. Especially those made on massive balls of helium and hydrogen gas floating in galaxies far, far away. Yet here I am. The new Interim Editor of Grain. Filled with so much joy and excitement, sleeves rolled and ready to take on the challenge, bursting with supernova energy.

I’m sure you can feel the oscillations in your hands already because the prose and poetry inside this Spring volume vibrate with intense brilliance. From the outset, the poets and authors take control and direct our gaze. Balcony to balcony, lakeshore to tree top, they invite us to observe. Sometimes downward to phone screens and photographs, other times further outward. Beyond fir boughs, feathers, and rocky Nova Scotian outcrops. To the stars.

While we’re gazing down at newborns or up at the Milky Way, we’re asked to consider questions surrounding care and time. How time fluctuates in the context of motherhood or mothering, and the ways we care for others. How time passes rapidly for parents watching their children grow and for children watching their parents grow old. How we reconcile the significance of human life, in an ageless and infinite universe, with the knowledge that all things inevitably end.

A phrase drawn from Kenton K. Yee’s poem, “Neighbourhood Watch,” provides not only the perfect title, but it also encapsulates this issue’s central preoccupation: “more star than cell.” If only we could be “more star than cell,” more effervescent light to span the years—what would be possible?

And speaking of what’s possible, the winning pieces of the 2023 Kloppenburg Hybrid Grain Contest demonstrate the vast spectrum of possibility inherent in hybrid writing. Ranging from more traditional verse to erasure poem, to prose text punctuated by sheet music, diagram, and equation, the winners boldly go where not many have gone before (in their writing, at least).

I’m so proud of the work curated between these covers, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to launch Volume 51.3 into our small “corner of the cosmic wilderness.”

- Elena Bentley, Interim Editor


DEEP COVE IS SIX MILES AWAY     |     Meghan Kemp-Gee

But you can measure the distance in light
years and open fisheyed sockets. You can
creep east like a heatwave, open your mouth
against the wildfires, sing to the sirens
as the crow flies, dive in where the Inlet

meets the Arm, eight floors and then twenty-six
metres down. Here you can leap from sun-bleached
wood to the ghosts of whalefalls and nineteenth-
century canneries, downriver dialect,
Tsleil-Waututh clamming ground. You can make great

leaps across the distance, is what I mean.
You can live again like an inverted
echinoderm or asteroid, nestle
your shoulderblades against the painted shells
and five-armed flowers, let distance settle

like seastars, pink spiny, vermillion, rose
and painted. You can watch kelp greenlings feed
on brittle molluscs, sculpins calculate
the distance, contemplate how mud-bellied
lingcod align their spines along the sky.


HUNGER: NOTES TO MY DAUGHTER [excerpt]     |     Adrienne Gruber

Ori’s skull surgery is scheduled for tomorrow and I’m a bad friend. I can hardly manage my own care, let alone extend shoulders for friends to lean on. I hardly give him any thought hour to hour, day to day. I’m well versed in my own hell, which is not remotely unique or deserving of sympathy. It is self-inflicted. I wanted two children.

Once you’re asleep, I bounce in place with my laptop propped open on the kitchen counter, responding to an email from a friend who, weeks ago, sent me a congratulatory message on baby number two. Cheers from the living room keep us isolated, tucked away on our own island. Eventually, I unravel your sleeping body from the carrier and put you down gently in the baby swing. You are a small alien, a UFO, oscillating safely in my waking dreams.

As I sit on the couch to watch the last few minutes of the baseball game another close friend texts me. I miss you, she writes. I feel the distance between us. It’s palpable.


WE EARLY SPILLED FROM     |     Emily Skov-Nielsen

the sparkle emoji trinity
                         glittering flashes commotion
                 weave a dissolving pattern
a most mystic mood       entertained into a life
          of doomscrolling through
          news articles    clicking into
                    orphan wells
                                 Humboldt squid parties
                      video games
controlled by a woman’s pelvic floor
                                    birthed into a high score
       under a hot thunder moon
                         in the underglimmer            smoking cloves
                                                           somewhere in the asteroid belt

                        unbuckling alongside     Sagittarius & Scorpius
                                                          rising beasts of the star fields
         in the summer Milky Way slipping
                                               into &out of
                                                 each other
                                     & into snow fountain weeping cherry

                  frothing male flowers
               asking how far until
                        aliens     giant isopods
                          deep sea mystery blobs        how far until
       strawberry squid       glitzy         photophoric      in downwelling sunlight
                                                                           mesopelagic twilight
                                                       how far until     Salvador Dali’s soft melting clocks
                                                                everything warm not yours
                                                                                        & vanishing flickering away



#268-Moonlit Forest Glow, 30"x30", Acrylic, 2024

NOTHING HAPPENS EVERYWHERE [excerpt]    |     Shannan Mann

The bigger I got with the baby, the quieter I felt inside. I felt that I was becoming as large as the planet itself, and against such magnitude, what could be sung or whispered. I did not feel like hiding, but I also had no desire to be put on display as a perfect religious married woman. I lingered on my sofa hearing Tolstoy’s words unspool in and out of my conscious experience. I watched the garden outgrow its metal boxes. I mapped the moon across the mountains, going from sliver to whole. Sometimes, I just closed my eyes as the windiest city in the world tremored with its baby earthquakes and the trees leaned a little too close to the dirt. 

The physical fullness of carrying Ana in my body allowed for this silence to feel natural. Somewhere between that time and the birth that threatened death, the unzipping of my marriage, the dance of divorce, my new relationship, moving back in with my mom, back to Canada from New Zealand, and moving for a few months back to India to be united with my beloved—I appear to have unpetalled myself. I am happy, almost ecstatic, witnessing the miracle Levin grasped, but I am also erratic, dare I say, manic with the desire to do everything all at once. I feel afraid of silence. Anxious about things yet to come, future events that threaten pain, I crowd my mind with voices from the world that can soothe or at the very least distract me. Hanging from a precipice, I have a box full of bandages and think myself protected.