Echolocation's Michael Prior sits down for a few drinks with Kevin Hardcastle, author of the recently released short story collection Debris (Biblioasis, 2015), which The Globe and Mail describes as "raw and stinging...but tinged with empathy." 

Echolocation: In an interview between you and your editor, John Metcalf, published in The New Quarterly, you touch upon the role of autobiography and place in your writing, noting that your childhood in Midland, Ontario has a lot to do with the subjects you write about now, even the way you write about them.

Kevin: I think it’s all pretty true to life, and honest. People are used to reading a lot of things that they think are authentic, and they’re not: they’re what somebody researched. Or they can be a thing somebody knows too closely and can’t objectively write about. You can know it too closely—and Metcalf asks about that in the interview. About knowing the poor and criminals and so on. One of the good things was that I’ve known enough hard things personally that I know how much worse they can get. I might have lived the first step in a lot of these things, the first rung on the ladder, but I didn’t go all the way up.

I think this collection hits some new territory, at least compared to what’s popular to write about in Canada right now. It’s old school. People don’t always seem to write many stories this way anymore; they sit in a room and think of a plot, or a device, or a gimmick—they’re more concerned about plot than they are about craft, or about sentences.

E: Like most readers, I’m wary about writing that I feel has, as Keats says, “palpable designs” on me, writing that wants to bring me somewhere definite: emotionally, morally. I never felt that with these stories.

K: This has come up in a couple of interviews I’ve had. Usually in relation to the common or expected tropes in rural-set fiction. There’s often the trope where the characters pontificate on their shitty lot and desperately want to get out. And here, in this collection, you don’t ever have that. The characters just live there and lump it.

The way I felt writing Debris was the way my friends and I felt growing up in Midland. When you’re in it, you don’t sit there all day thinking about what’s going to be next, because you don’t know, especially when you’re younger. We knew there was a world out there, we knew there was more, and that was a unifying factor: we all knew we were getting out. But when you’re there, you can’t have your head in the clouds: you have problems in front of you that you deal with day by day. And that’s what those characters do, because that’s what real people do—they don’t sit there and feel shame about it.

I think the best rural American writers don’t judge their characters, and they don’t condescend to them either. It’s the difference between Deliverance and Winter’s Bone, right? Though it is a great book, Deliverance is toothless hillbilly scum, which is nonsense, and Winter’s Bone has characters that are dangerous and scary but they’re not stupid, or caricatures. They’ll kill you and the cops won’t get them—they’re clever people, they’ve survived for hundreds of years in this place. You underestimate those people at your peril. ...continue reading




Mercy on an old friend
(his mind in cirrus
his head hot
with sunset heft)
gleaning that your departure
has no reason save
only for departing


we grew together
in the heart of this
moat of white foam
marooning us into the city

so: enclosure made
a companionship tighter
than the line of horizon
dividing sun from seabank

the neighing of your steed
seems to repeat
your one cool
wave adieu

you leave me
like tumbleweed
(dun-brown with sun)
and catch like sheaves
of wheat the wandering
flame to wander many miles
into plateaus ravenous
with newness running
into mountains who mirror
my worn and heavy memories
of you eroding to an insatiable absence


first memory:
our frolicsome boys’
bodies and the fragrance
of cassia binding the air

I thought it would be
a forever & fevered thing,
our durable eternity

in this city encircling
your parting way
empties the inconsolable
my love alone
was not enough so
you will be, in leaving,
always besides me

there comes a time
(rising from the horizon)
when I will care for your
happiness beyond
what hand I might
have in it

fan photoFan Wu is a function of displacement, a chameleon with his tongue caught in a rotary blade, and writing this bio from a bar in Beijing called 'Hollywood'. His book of translations, tentatively entitled Hoarfrost & Solace, will be published May 2016 by espresso press.


He stood outside my window, peeked in through a hole in the curtain. I saw his soft brown eyes, pretended to sleep. We were seven years old. He would take me by the hand and show me the frogs jumping in the creek, his secret tree house.

His dirty hands, the infectious laughter in his grin, and the way he would pronounce his L’s —long and rolling. He knew how to fix everything. Machines, broken animals: his quick fingers and furrowed brow could make anything right.

There was a darkness that grew in him. It came out in bursts of tears. Frustration. Loud punk rock. His laugh, it was gone. He would yell now. Putting a hand on his back was like touching flame, unpredictable and sure to scorch.

I was safe when I was with him. But then I wasn’t.

I was different too. Distant. Scared. He was too much for me to handle. I went to his house, we were sixteen then, and he cried into my shoulder. I patted his back and ran out of the room as fast as I could. Afraid of burn marks.

And then I left.

Do you remember that dream you had? The one where I came out of the crowd and hugged you for the rest of the night? I was what you needed. I’m sorry it was only a dream. Last New Years Eve I sat outside in the woods. My breath frosted under the clear sky and I sang to you. I prayed for you. I dropped tobacco for you. For your darkness. For us.



strong lines
your hands create as they carve a story out of thin air
eyes speak of a past, deep and raw

you own this world
as words form into being
your tongue flicks over your full lips

my own pulse quickens
and a burning blush creeps
from my cheeks downwards,
you notice

our eyes meet
and your hands,
they hold me in your created universe

fran cunninghamFrancine Cunningham
is an Aboriginal writer, artist and educator. She is currently working on her second novel, collection of short stories and an adult picture book. For more information you can find her at www.francinecunningham.ca.

While echolocation takes a summer break to assemble Issue 15 and recharge our pens, we'll be featuring work on our website from a few exciting new voices!

Chelsea Eckert


domestic aches
in the house of ribs, under the arms,
in the bloody fridge that informs lung and limb
of their pre-determined reactions...


look into the night kitty-eyed. outside the trailer of the world:
the noise of the multiverse. parallels in chrome edges. the silver
of unmoving rivers. blankets that capture the same shine color

sheets: the sleek metal solitude. people over there in perfected
emotion. that reality. einstein riding out the years in a box. an
omni-president and cubed laws like numberless moths. like bar-codes

the fever licking me is one of butchered curiosity. the blender on
high. three tomatoes in the window. skyholes yawning potentialities



In Chinatown the shi are curled with orgasmic ferocity
against places of importance — they weigh the world.

Your soul spots; you conjure Salvador Dali, who had
an ocelot. Exoticism twists fire, throws fireworks.

Once the serval yawned and you held his jaws open
to the party, the pad of your thumbs against his fangs.

He had ease in the diamonds of his skull. The bandying
of scents, insects in fists of wind — inconceivable.

À la inherited wedding dresses, he symbolizes wholeness.
And for whom do we pray? He grins in your Christmas card.


Chelsea Eckert will be attending UNC Greensboro for her MFA in creative writing in the fall of 2015. Her work has appeared or will appear in Stoneboat Literary Magazine, Dressing Room Poetry Journal, Touchstone Magazine, Jelly Bucket, 99 Pine Street, The Maynard, and Ignatian Literary Magazine.

While echolocation takes a summer break to assemble Issue 15 and recharge our pens, we'll be featuring work on our website from a few exciting new voices!

Chloe Burns


IN YOUR FIRST LIFE you were a small blue fish the colour of the sultan's bluejade bowl he filled with the ashes that fell from his mouth (you coveted) he wrung you out every day lifted you from your pool of tranquil-city wrung you out draped you out on his white sheets in a small puddle of drying salt & your salt was worth rubies: this you remember: in your next life you were a stuffed otter in a museum display, itching & smelling like old wet cloth, the opposite of water & you stilled behind the museum glass full of schoolchildren's marbleeyes you dreamed over and over of the water you'd lost you plunged through like liquid light the plague of the scientists for whom light passed over & through their hands like wax yellow gloves: then in yr next you were slimhipped & sleek, you finally recognized yourself in the metalblue mirror you sobbed & your cheeks drew like salt curtains: you scorned artists' models and swore like a small globe of blue glass that your body would remain only your own encased & untouched porcelain: but you fell in love, and he would take off all his rings to touch you & then go out with his travelling salesman suitcase & your fingertips burned as you drew sodden sheets from waterbasins: wrung them dry & dry & dry


Chloe Burns has recently been published in The Casserole, Lantern Magazine, Tendril Literary Magazine, Bitterzoet and Red Kitty Magazine. She agrees with William Carlos Williams, who said: “I think all writing is a disease.”