We've got it all right here, folks! Everything that's ever been written up, photographed, and discussed on the Sad Mag website. Enjoy browsing our archives!

High School, our 20th issue, is on the way. To cel­e­brate, we’re pub­lish­ing a series of cre­ative writ­ing and illus­tra­tion that cel­e­brate those teenage times for what they were–glorious, hope­less, funny, mov­ing, or just plain embarrassing.

The Surfer by Amelia Garvin
The Surfer by Amelia Garvin

Grammar School
By Megan Jones

Unlike the others,
my father loved
my first boyfriend like
a son; he
actually likes
“doing” “things,” he said. He
is “productive”; he
“wood,” wipes
cutting boards, “cuts”
at them.

Lately, reluctantly, poet
ically I too have asked: are fathers
the poets?

No, really: I imagine them moulding
our little pink
mouths at birth, mouths
later fluttering
wings, loose but
tied and tethered, always,
to some rotting
estuary of words.

Do normal women love
a man’s
as much as I

Do they archive
Facebook messages?

Do they sit cross-armed
like a
“bitch” at
“barbeques” just

Do they wrap and dispose of
like tampons
that is to say: shamefully?

You must be thinking: she has
wasted half
this “poem”

But it must be so
lonely to be a
displaced male word!
Pushed out by the woman’s
new lover
firm mouth
planting words like
hard seeds.

“The green room,”
is the thrashing “barrel”
of a wave, or
“to get pitted” means slipping
beneath the wave’s
inverted belly.

The slope
of the “break,”
is waves, curling
their white fists.

I think I would like
to write a poem
about that next.

I think I like fists now
more than I like “break.”

In winter, this boyfriend,
the one who surfs, shook
snow from his “deck.”
“Let’s get in
the green,” pulled my wet
suit down: a glimpse
of “chicken-skin” chest.

Back then I did not
“breast” or, worse,
“sex.” “Sex” was
is fragile, an unripe
banana of a word: stuck in the
cheek, fuzzed.

My life, a girl’s life
could’ve been all white knuckles
and sexy silence. Waves of blue.
Dark odorous

Instead it was/is the flat
pan held by one who is liked
who has become a real
“thing,” worth
“doing.” It’s “wood,” productively

A“long iron” at the driving range
is a long shaft, it was
my “athletic” boyfriend.

We liked “red” and “winner”
“gold” and “burn.”

Green fists of grass, clenched
white balls. What comes
next, over the rolling
hill? The fathers,
crouching with their daughters,
ducks with heads in the water
Get your bums right up, in the air!
I’ve never
known men in love
with waiting
for words to flow up, ideally:
yes, all, and.


Megan Jones lives and writes poems in Vancouver. She also splits her time between working at two different publishing firms: ZG Communications, a boutique marketing agency for authors, publishers and not-for-profits; and Page Two Strategies, an innovative literary agency where writers publish in a variety of ways. 

Amelia Garvin is a painter and illus­tra­tor who has exhibited her work in group shows across Van­cou­ver. She has a BFA from Emily Carr. See more work by Amelia here and here. 


Dog With No Legs_2
I must be a ghost. A spirit gliding over the cool tile of the train station. Spirits don’t carry cash or have access to their PayPal accounts anymore, which is probably why the glowing, abrasively positive young people volunteering to get people to volunteer money to various charities and causes never ask me if I “have a minute.” It’s almost upsetting to be ignored like this. Maybe these bastions of light and goodwill can see some sort of dark essence snaking around my aura and they’d prefer not to accept a one-time or preferably monthly donation from me because of it. There’s probably ethical and spiritual standards they have to uphold. They must know about the time I rented Evil Dead and then moved to a different province with the VHS in tow.

One of them wrapped a scarf tightly around themselves as I passed in an obvious effort to protect any exposed facial flesh from the arctic chill emanating from my phantom heart. It was a nice scarf, though. I nearly asked her where she got it but decided not to risk it in case she could see me and followed up “H&M” with “do you have a minute?” I also didn’t want to lead them on. If I made small talk with one that could open the door for others to capitalize and take advantage of my conversational, potentially charitable, minutes. And as much as I love helping others (I once googled directions to an organic market for a lost looking mother-of-three and I was nowhere near any WiFi hotspots—data ain’t cheap!), I also know that I must help myself before I can help them—a dog with no legs can’t save a drowning cat. Or however that one goes. So before I dig deep into my pockets I need to make right with myself, find my legs, and thaw the frozen gristle of my heart, preferably in the heat of online streaming services and detoxifying fruit smoothies.

For more Por­traits of Brief Encoun­ters, look out for the bimonthly fea­ture on sadmag.ca, visit the POBE web­site, or fol­low Cole Now­icki on Insta­gram or Twit­ter

High School, our 20th issue, is on the way. To cel­e­brate, we’re pub­lish­ing a series of creative writing and illus­tra­tion that cel­e­brate those teenage times for what they were–glorious, hope­less, funny, mov­ing, or just plain embarrassing.

Illustration by Amelia Garvin
Illustration by Amelia Garvin

By Taylor Basso

“What do you call a greenhouse with nothing growing inside?”

He asked it like some profound riddle. I peered into the cold dark greenhouse at the cracked pots and bags of old soil. Once it became apparent that Mike didn’t actually have an answer, I shook my head and brought the joint to my lips. “Save the deep questions for after we smoke this, okay?”

I pretended not to see the look Brooke shot me while I sparked the lighter. I recognized it as her “Simran, be nice” look. “My mom used to grow vegetables here,” Brooke said. “Cucumbers, tomatoes. She stopped after my brother was born. Watch the door, Mike, I don’t want Nightshade to get out.” Nightshade was Brooke’s cat, 15 years old with a long tail and with a tendency to wander.

Mike closed the door behind him. The three of us passed the joint back and forth in awkward silence as the muted house party thrummed in the distance behind us. This was Brooke’s version of Camp David, a play to unite her best friend and her new boyfriend, and so far it was failing. We weren’t warring, per se, things were just…chilly. Mostly from my end. I didn’t get the point of Mike. I didn’t see what he brought to the table. Brooke was amazing and funny and whipcrack smart. Mike was…a dude. In his group of friends, he wasn’t even the dude. He was Dude #3, faceless supporting cast in an anonymous posse of white bros.

“Do you have any brothers or sisters, Simran?” Mike asked. The way he asked the question was stilted and unnatural. Brooke must have told him to make nice with me. It’s funny how much you can pull from a single sentence. I should have been touched: I was important to Brooke and she wanted her important people to get along. Instead, I felt peeved because it implicitly put us on the same level.

“Two brothers,” I said, holding a cloud in my lungs. I passed the joint to Brooke and dove into my pocket for a pack of cigarettes. Both of them shook their heads. Mike said he didn’t want his father, the pastor, to smell it on him when he got home. I looked at the joint between his fingers and then back up at Brooke, incredulously. It was dark and she pretended not to see me.

Brooke always told me that one of her favourite things about me was that I couldn’t control my face. The first time she said it, I was in detention because I couldn’t stop scowling during Becky Ruiz’s French presentation. “This is an injustice,” I said. “Her accent was so fucking bad.” Brooke laughed and kept me company even though she didn’t have to, and Mrs. Lagos liked us so she let her. We spent the hour skewering Becky together. It wasn’t even detention, really.

It was always part of Our Thing, I thought, that we hated the same people. Hate isn’t actually the word for it – more that we lacked patience for stupidity and called it out where we saw it. Brooke was a no bullshit chick and I adored it about her. Now, in the greenhouse, Mike was halfway through stammering out some idiotic stoned screed about politics and Brooke was coaxing it out of him like his third grade teacher. “No, you had a good point. You were saying how money is sort of like this imaginary system. Simran, you listening?” I nodded.

“Yeah, like, what does money represent, you know? It’s pieces of paper and we say it’s worth like five dollars but it’s only worth that much because we say it is.”

“Money is guaranteed by gold,” I said. “Any amount of money just represents the same amount of gold at a mint somewhere.”

“Okay but like,” Mike said, “it’s also used to control us, right? Like you look at all the presidents and vice-presidents and stuff on it, they’re just there to remind you who’s in charge.”

“Do you know who the vice-president is right now?”

The question hung uncomfortably in the air. I smirked and looked at Brooke, who returned my gaze through the darkness. “Come on, Mike, let’s go inside,” she finally said.

I was taken aback. “We can finish this joint, if you want. I still have to kill this smoke anyway.”

“It’s not cool to ask someone a question to try and humiliate them. It makes you an asshole, actually.” Brooke pulled the door open. It dragged in the long grass and made a shuddering noise. She stormed out. Mike shrugged at me, took one last tug on the joint and followed sheepishly behind her. I was left there, hot-faced, groping in the darkness for something to say.

Moonlight spilled in through the crack of the door. I could hear the noise of the party louder now. Some drunk couple was on the porch, half-committed to a slurred fight. I stayed in the greenhouse for a while longer, smoking. On my last puff, a quick flash caught my eye. It was Nightshade, Brooke’s cat, poised in front of the open door. If she escaped, I thought, it would technically be Mike’s fault, not mine. He left the door open. I thought how upset Brooke would be if Nightshade went missing. The cat walked, soft footfalls, closer to the door. I was within arm’s reach, could close it if I wanted to, but I’d have to do it fast.


Taylor Basso is originally from Surrey, BC, and currently lives in Vancouver. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from UBC. His plays have been staged across the city, and his fiction work can be found online at Joyland and Plenitude.

Amelia Garvin is a painter and illus­tra­tor who has exhib­ited her work in group shows across Van­cou­ver. She has a BFA from Emily Carr. See more work by Amelia here and here.

High School, our 20th issue, is on the way. To cel­e­brate, we’re pub­lish­ing a series of poetry and illus­tra­tion that cel­e­brate those teenage times for what they were–glorious, hope­less, funny, mov­ing, or just plain embarrassing.

Illustration by Amelia Garvin
Illustration by Amelia Garvin

I am remembering the sacredness of sleepovers
By Sarah Ens

I am remembering
the sacredness of sleepovers
and the holding of hair, holy in our hands
twisting braids too loose, taking care
with their undoing, over and over
like an anointing

our ritualized rating
of those poor boys, a sacrifice
until Ryan got a ten out of ten out of
nowhere so we started watching LOTR in slow-mo,
Spiderman backwards, I don’t know why
it was so funny, these things
we could control

and when Abby’s mom died
Abby lay on the floor in the basement at Meg’s
and her cousins lay beside her
like three fingers on one hand that said a-okay
Abby pulling the sleeping bag up
over her head, staying still
just like that

I could never keep vigil, I always
fell asleep only to be woken up
to choose which teacher to kill marry
or screw, shouting elementary school songs like
swears, like spells, I Am
Chiquita Banana shaking the walls of the spare room
and then sneaking our mothers’ vodka, the first time
we did puzzles all night before crumpling
to the floor to confess the way we felt
ourselves, the spaces we’d found that made
us feel ashamed

one time I threw a whole cake
on the floor at the end of an all-nighter
and we scrubbed and scrubbed
but the stain on the unfinished wood
just spread, reckless
and so full of feeling every night, catching
our new mouths on old magics
on baby feminist god-fearing poems
speaking together our scriptures in so
many pink tongues

and I wanted to soften the matted knot
at the nape of your neck, escaped from my attempt
at a French braid, you looking to me fuzzy,
blurred with tenderness, tangles
telling me that he touched you when you were
just a kid

I am remembering
how we pressed our shirt sleeves to our chins
how our eyes burned that dark room, I am reciting
the prayer that curled up from our growing lungs
and lengthened like smoke, stretching
up and up into safer sleep.


Sarah Ens grew up in rural Manitoba before moving to Vancouver to study Creative Writing at UBC. After earning her BFA, she returned to Winnipeg to write sad poems and surround herself with books and Mennonites as an editorial assistant at Turnstone Press. Her work has appeared in Poetry is Dead, The Garden Statuary, and Fugue.

Amelia Garvin is a painter and illus­tra­tor who has exhib­ited her work in group shows across Van­cou­ver. She has a BFA from Emily Carr. See more work by Amelia here and here.



Thomas Crapper

Despite popular belief, Thomas Crapper did not invent the flush toilet. Contrary to the myth, his surname isn’t even the etymological catalyst for our common use of the word “crap,” as in fecal matter or the infamous Roger Ebert quote, “Transformers: Age of Extinction is the biggest piece of crap we as a species have willingly put into our eyes–I’m surprised the majority of the Western world doesn’t have pinkeye.” Except that Ebert never said that (he was mercifully dead by the time the film was released), “crap” is actually a combination of the Dutch word “krappen” (to cut off, or separate) and the Old French word “crappe” (siftings, waste), and John Harington invented the flush toilet in 1596 (not to be confused with John Harrington, the late CEO of the Boston Red Sox).

Misconceptions like these are generally innocent in nature and are usually just the result of a game of cross-generational telephone, someone not doing their due diligence and checking Google, or some good old fashioned fabrication. That being said, with some things there just isn’t any room for misconception. It is universally understood, and even upheld by the U.N., that it is a direct violation of my human rights to have to listen to dubstep at 8:45 am as we make the hour-long carpool to work through morning traffic–everyone knows that torture is a no-no. So dear God, at least just put it on shuffle.

For more Por­traits of Brief Encoun­ters, look out for the bimonthly fea­ture on sadmag.ca, visit the POBE web­site, or fol­low Cole Now­icki on Insta­gram or Twit­ter

High School, our 20th issue, is on the way. To cel­e­brate, we’re pub­lish­ing a series of fic­tion and illus­tra­tion that cel­e­brate those teenage times for what they were–glorious, hope­less, funny, mov­ing, or just plain embarrassing.

Illustration by Amelia Garvin
Illustration by Amelia Garvin

By Curtis LeBlanc

One is English and the other is French is what the neighbour says about his dogs. They run along the rows of grapevines tangled around wooden stakes and wire. At the end of the day he calls to one dog come here and the other vient ici and they both come running to him faster than most have ever ran for anyone.

For the entire summer before her senior year, the girl works for him, picking weeds and pruning vines in the Okanagan heat. She’ll take being alone outdoors over spooning gelato for retirees and tourists. There are slivers in her hands that she will never get out, and she’s tanned like the keys of a piano between the straps of her overalls, camisole, and bra. She wakes at sunrise every morning, gets dressed, and walks with her breakfast across the gravel road between the two properties to the neighbour’s work shed.

Her father sits at the patio table all morning, all afternoon, whistling along to pop-country songs coming through the portable radio. He waits for it to pass, for the heat to subside on the banks of Skaha Lake, and drinks bottles by the case, bottles of wine made from the grapes that the neighbour has worked so hard to grow.

He never asks the girl about her day, though she figures he may like to hear about it. In a year it will be the grapes that she cared for bringing colour to his face, keeping his lips wet for the whistle, holding him up in wine country.


Curtis LeBlanc was born and raised in St. Albert, Alberta. He currently lives in Vancouver where he is an MFA candidate at the University of British Columbia. Recently, he was a runner-up in Broken Pencil’s Unearth Your Underworld fiction contest. His writing has appeared in Poetry is Dead, The Maynard, Existere, Joyland, Little Fiction, Sport Literate, and is forthcoming in Prairie Fire.

Amelia Garvin is a painter and illus­tra­tor who has exhib­ited her work in group shows across Van­cou­ver. She has a BFA from Emily Carr. See more work by Amelia here and here.


High School, our 20th issue, is on the way. To cel­e­brate, we’re pub­lish­ing a series of fiction and illus­tra­tion that cel­e­brate those teenage times for what they were–glorious, hope­less, funny, mov­ing, or just plain embarrassing.

Photo by Amelia Garvin
Illustration by Amelia Garvin

By Christopher Evans

Back in high school, my step-sister Kathy dated this guy named Braun, a real ape. He was always super polite in front of our parents, but as soon as they turned their backs, Braun would stick his hand down Kathy’s pants and then hold his fingers under his nose to sniff. Kathy would wink and whap him on the shoulder and say, “Stop it, Brah-nee,” like it was just the cutest thing in the world. If a song came on the radio that had “you” in the chorus, Braun would sing “poo” instead, which is how he ruined my favourite Bryan Adams song, by singing “(Everything I Do) I Do it for Poo.” That was the caliber of his sense of humour.

Because my mom moved us in with her dad, I was the one who had to change schools and didn’t know anyone, so I was always tagging along after Kathy. Braun hated it. I remember one time, our biology class took a field trip to the natural history museum in Peachville and somehow Braun was there, just mingling with the Grade Elevens, even though he’d graduated like four years earlier. He and I were standing in front of the display of taxidermied birds and he was just staring at the peacocks for a long time—I swear I could hear his synapses cracking—before he turned to me and said, “They should call them ‘pissdicks.’ Get it?” When I didn’t respond, he mimed pulling a huge penis out of his pants and urinating all over my face—again, a real class act. He told me I’d never get to finger someone as hot as my step-sister. “There’s not a single thing special about you,” he said, and pretended zip his pants back up. “You don’t even exist.” He swaggered off to grope Kathy and look at the amphibian dioramas, leaving me alone with the stuffed birds.

I think of this now because Braun was right and wrong. There is certainly nothing special about me, but I do exist. You exist, too, and maybe aren’t anything special either, and could that be the reason why we’re so good together?


Christopher Evans works, studies, and occasionally sleeps in Vancouver, BC. His fiction, non-fiction, and poetry have appeared in Riddle Fence, The New Quarterly, The Canary Press, Joyland, and other fine publications in Canada, Australia, Ireland, the UK, and the USA. Follow him at @ChrisPDEvans.

Amelia Garvin is a painter and illus­tra­tor who has exhibited her work in group shows across Van­cou­ver. She has a BFA from Emily Carr. See more work by Amelia here and here.

Photo by Rob Shaer
Photo by Rob Shaer

In person, Ola Volo is as warm and whimsical as her artwork. A graduate of Emily Carr University of Art and Design, and the creative force behind designs for local clients like Lululemon and Doan’s Craft Brewing Company, it is easy to see Volo as a Vancouver artist. But, as successful as she is in this city, an international perspective is what elevates her work. We met at her apartment a few days before Halloween to chat about her upcoming CreativeMornings talk and life as a working artist.

Visual art as a profession is difficult for most people to wrap their heads around; the idea usually evokes images of noble poverty or antisocial genius. Volo disproves both these stereotypes, and her pragmatic approach to making a talent into a career is inspiring. What Volo firmly believes, and proves with her success, is that professionalism and artistic integrity are not necessarily opposed. Volo says she “hasn’t had a day off” since she started, and the idea of treating creativity like a nine to five is something she learned to do early on.

Growing up in Kazakhstan, Volo’s parents placed her in almost every genre of art class you can think of, from pastels to painting. She describes the classes as “babysitting,” but it is easy to imagine her as a precocious artist. When asked about developing her distinctive style, full of swirling patterns and playful figures, Volo says she has doodles and designs from early high school that look remarkably similar to her current work. Her style is clearly an authentic representation of who she is.

Photo by Rob Shaer
Photo by Rob Shaer

Volo consistently refers to her pieces as “stories,” perhaps a more apt word to describe the folkloric works she creates than “paintings” or “illustrations.” During her sold out CreativeMorning’s talk, she claimed she saw her style as a way to explore the stories that are important to her, not the other way around. Like a writer searching for the perfect word, Volo’s unique illustrations are the ideal language to explore the things that fascinate her.

This visual language is remarkable in its versatility; Volo’s work is equally at home on a gallery wall or a magazine cover. She combats the unflattering stigma of commercial art, only lending her style to projects that she can become invested in, that become her story. “My style cuts very close to my background. My inspiration comes from the stories I grew up with and books I owned as a kid. It all becomes like a personal voice, and if the project is not fitting, why would you want that voice to represent that project?”

Volo was introduced to the world of professional illustration soon after graduation. About a month after earning her degree, she flew to New York City to show her portfolio: “It was the first time I met working illustrators…They were all so passionate and very motivated, very prolific, doing things all the time, in like seven different avenues.” What Volo took away from her meetings was a sense of the sheer hustle that goes into working as an artist. The experience was both inspirational and terrifying; “I was so intimidated by New York…like ‘Oh my god this city will chew you up and spit you out, there are so many illustrators!’”

Photo by Rob Shaer
Photo by Rob Shaer

When Volo returned home to Vancouver she briefly abandoned illustration and tried to focus on a more straightforward career. A conventional career path didn’t last long, and she quickly found herself back in New York, where she lived for six months; “I made a promise to myself that if I find something that is so scary for me, then I should go there, I should figure something out with my work and myself.”

Traveling and periodically relocating keeps Volo on good terms with Vancouver and excited about her work. “It really grounds you,” she says. “You come back refreshed and full of ideas…you appreciate Vancouver again.”

Photo by Aura McKay
Photo by Aura McKay

Volo has said that she gravitated towards illustration as a way to transcend language barriers, and feels drawn to the idea of public art for the same reason. Commercial work allows her pieces to reach a huge audience, much more than individual works that are often sheltered in private homes. Public art takes this idea to the next level. “I like it when art is accessible to everyone. I want people to feel included, not excluded.”

Although she feels the need to leave the city occasionally, Vancouver hasn’t tired of embracing Volo’s work. The audience at CreativeMornings was thrilled with her candid words as well as her illustrations. As the talk ended, Volo was presented with a position as Artist in Residence at HCMA Architecture + Design—one more Vancouver business that will benefit from her unique vision.

Find out more about Ola Volo at olavolo.com. Stay posted for more from CreativeMornings, monthly at SFU Woodwards.

The 1982 World Fair’s commemorative PEZ dispenser is known in PEZ circles as the most rare and sought after plastic-head-driven candy dispenser of all time. On top of a green stem (that holds the unremarkable sugary tablets), this Austrian based company stuck an assumedly American astronaut’s helmet—a proxy for the USA’s power and ingenuity—up on a threateningly diabetic pike. Was this a bold political statement or my boredom causing me to connect dots that weren’t there, like my brother’s freckles during winter?

If it’s boredom it’s because I just don’t get PEZ. I mean, I understand the appeal of candy and the fetish of collecting meaningless cultural ephemera, but none of the PEZ characters ever spoke to me. Popeye? Batman? The cast of Disney’s FrozenYawn. You want my money? Give me Donald Trump. Make the freshly euthanized Pomeranian on his head tilt back to offer up what you expected be an artificially flavoured grape rectangle that for some reason tastes like cherry. Why? Because that’s the art of the deal, yah loser, that’s why.

I want to tip Putin’s stoic Russian chin and die of dioxin poisoning two days later. I want a self-tanned, weave-wearing Rachel Dolezal gullet to shoot out peppermint PEZ and a dispenser hooded in a niq?b that you lift to reveal a simpering Stephen Harper—because if you’re going to turn our sweets into entertainment, at least make it something that we’re entertained by—the loud, dangerous, and offensive.



High School, our 20th issue, is on the way! To cel­e­brate, we’re pub­lish­ing a series of poetry and illus­tra­tion that cel­e­brate those teenage times for what they were–glorious, hope­less, funny, mov­ing, or just plain embarrassing.

Illustration by Amelia Garvin
Illustration by Amelia Garvin

By Nathaniel G. Moore

To her, every road wasn’t made of material itself,
but animalistic memory and sensory sent out
the way bats see, bouncing infrared animation depicting
what we can’t see or the way beacons, other worlds contact us.
It’s as if we are riding over people’s dreams, dog’s dreams, made
of ancestral bones made of skin clouds made of a million soup craving,
bank robbing sister’s shameful tears
I didn’t create language, Kathy thought. Later she
would think about her mother and father and the people she loved.
Now she wants to tell us teenaged or otherwise that the world is a complicated
place and that you can put ribbons on everything but it doesn’t
change the fact
That beauty isn’t something you can pluck from a grocery hearse and everyone
is different and feels fucked up for no reason but there is
always a fucking reason.


Nathaniel G. Moore is the author of Savage 1986-2011(Anvil Press), winner of the 2014 ReLit Award for best novel. His next book, Jettison, is a collection of romantic horror stories. It will launch in Vancouver in May 2016 along with an art show of the same name. A life-long Torontonian, Moore now calls Pender Harbour, where he has a PR job in the book creation industry, home.

Amelia Garvin is a painter and illustrator who has exhibited her work in group shows across Vancouver. She has a BFA from Emily Carr. See more work by Amelia here and here. 


Look out for High School Poetry on Tuesdays on sadmag.ca.