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Local poet publishes unique literary magazine

Publication Poetry is Dead focuses on young writers from across the country

Burnaby poet Daniel Zomparelli reads a lot of literary magazines. He also gets a lot of his work published in these magazines.

So it's perhaps no surprise he grew irritated a few years ago when he read several articles proclaiming - with smarmy reference to Nietzsche - that poetry is dead.

"It always comes from an outside source, from someone who's not invested or even interested in poetry," he said.

Zomparelli graduated from Simon Fraser University in 2006 with a major in English Literature and a minor in publishing. He then started a volunteer position at AdBusters, a Vancouver anti-consumer magazine, which turned into a paid position, and finally a management role.

Seeing the business from the inside, Zomparelli decided he would start his own magazine to get his work published and give other young, unknown poets a chance to see their writing in print.

It's called Poetry Is Dead. Since the first issue, in 2010, the publication, which comes out twice a year, has never been at a loss for poems to publish, even running original work by award-winning Canadian poets, such George Bowering and Daphne Marlatt.

"Canada's poets are readily available," he said. "Something that I've learned is that they're very down to earth and easy to approach for new work."

Though it's for anyone who appreciates the written word, the magazine focuses on writers between the ages of 20 and 40 who produce a mix of what he calls "edgy" poetry and art, incorporating all kinds of genres and styles.

As a business model, Poetry Is Dead doesn't offer Zomparelli a full-time income, but as a community art project, it's more sustainable than he had first expected.

The magazine is fully funded through grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the B.C. Arts Council and the City of Vancouver.

"I expected to shut down after six issues; for it to be a small, closed-off project," he said of his initial goal for the venture. "But because they gave us funding, the sixth issue comes out (this month), and we already have funding to go for the seventh and eight, and ongoing. Our subscriber base increases annually, so we're doing quite well."

This summer, Zomparelli has been able to fund a fulltime intern to work on the sixth issue, and he hopes to keep her on through the winter if another grant comes through.

He also regularly brings in guest editors for each issue and has an art director who lays out the pages.

When he is not working on the magazine or at his part-time position for a book publisher, Zomparelli works fulltime for his family's company, Zomparelli Construction.

He is also currently working on several long poems, and this year Talon Books published his first book of poetry, called Davie Street Translations.

His poems may never make him rich, and his books may never bring the kind of fame seen by some novelists and screenwriters, but for Zomparelli, writing poetry is simply about having fun and seeing how far he can go with his passion for "out-there" writing.

Submissions for the seventh issue of Poetry Is Dead, called "Mental Health, Inside/Outside," can be made through the website -

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