In 2005, my elder brother bought a few domains for ten dollars each. His goal was to invest in something that would be worthwhile, maybe even result in a big payoff in the future. I vaguely recall him asking me what I thought of them. At one point, he began describing what he thought they could be used for and envisioning logos. I was sixteen years old, didn’t care much about any of it, and am almost certain I was just waiting for him to get off the computer so I could get on with my homework and chat with friends on MSN Messenger.
When I told my brother about my idea for an online literary magazine a couple of years ago, one which would ideally have an urban focus and which I hoped would one day publish work by writers and artists from all over Canada and around the world, he reminded me about the domains he had purchased nearly ten years before. I listened skeptically as he listed them. After months of contemplating an array of possible options, none of which are worth mentioning, a perfect one was presented to me. I could pretend that I’m brilliant, that I came up with the title of this magazine on my own, but I’d much rather admit that Sewer Lid is a coalescence of thoughts and actions that have occurred throughout a decade as one of the domains my brother purchased was sewerlid.com.
Many people have asked, “Why Sewer Lid?” Although I automatically think about him and smile, I never mention my brother when answering this question. Instead, my responses tend to coincide with what the associate editors and I have discussed, at length, with regards to what Sewer Lid means to us and how we would like others to interpret it.
Part of the appeal of Sewer Lid rests in etymology. While “sewer” began to be used in order to specifically denote underground channels for wastewater in the 1600s, the word, of Anglo-French origin, had simply been used in reference to a conduit of water, something which made the substance flow, in the 1400s. The word “lid,” on the other hand, has consistently been used in reference to covers and openings since the 1200s. With this in mind, we like to think of Sewer Lid as a doorway to the flux of visions, interpretations and expressions of life present within cities. Ultimately, we seek to provide our readers with art and literature that will either enable them to be transported to different cities or engage with the ideas and opinions fostered within them.
In this issue of Sewer Lid, you will encounter pieces that are clearly linked to cities. Toronto, for instance, is highlighted in the work of John Nyman, whose poems enable us to ride public transit at night and indirectly connect with others in the city through craigslist, and Rasiqra Revulva, whose photography serves as insightful and intriguing visual commentary on landmarks and events. You will also confront themes that are present within the lives of those residing within cities. The complexities of the human solitude that capitalist societies can manifest echo through poems by Trevor Abes and Joshua P’ng, as well as short stories by Danica Fogarty and Chelsea Forbes. Various relationships among individuals belonging to diverse cultures are featured in fiction by Jack Hostrawser, Nicole Haldoupis and Chris Gudgeon. And the way in which a city can adopt a livelier persona at night is explored in poems by Marika Brooks, who utilizes an extended metaphor to simultaneously describe what it is like to be intoxicated in and with a city in “Dim Lights,” and George Elliott Clarke, who responds to Natasha Trethway’s highly-acclaimed Bellocq’s Ophelia while transporting us to New Orleans’ red-light district of the 1900s so we can witness the photographer capture the image of the prostitute in “Bellocq Snaps Ophelia.”
Outlined above is only a glimpse. Many more gems are included in Sewer Lid’s inaugural issue, some of which may seem absolutely unrelated to the urban but are ultimately reflective of the brilliance transpiring within the cities from which their creators hail. View the complete contents here.