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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Final TDR Editorial

Pity the poor editor. Actually, don't.


I mean, it hasn't been easy. But that's not, now, what settles in the forefront of my mind when I consider 19 years of The Danforth Review.

Nineteen years, holy smokes. (Okay, 19, minus a two-year pause, 2009-2011, but still.)

What settles in the forefront of my mind is the gratitude that it happened at all, that it thrived, because others participated. Contributed. Edited. Submitted. Downloaded and read it.

Without you -- you -- it wouldn't have happened at all.

We experimented, we fiddled, we made mistakes, we carried on. And on and on.

In 2018, much has changed; a new generation has ascended, and that's great.

There are all kinds of new "small magazines." Many new writers demanding to be heard. And the range of the stories being published is broader than ever before. So nice.

Looking back, reflecting, what to say?

The first three issues of TDR were coded HTML in a subfolder off my personal website.

It is archived here - 

Then I started using Microsoft Frontpage to provide a templated structure, which made things easier. Easier to get bigger.

Submissions came in from around the world. One came from a U.S. soldier in Faluja, Iraq. Others from India, Korea, the United States of America, the United Kingdom.

Mostly, though, submissions came from across Canada. People found out about us by word of mouth, or following links.

In the beginning, there was no Facebook, no Twitter, no social media or any kind. No smart phones.

There was just the internet, its basic tool (HTML), and a desire to communicate. To bring the literary magazine online. To some, this was too radical. (As I canvassed for submissions for those early issues, some said they would never publish online.) Now, online publication is second nature, even intuitive, unquestioned.

And the premises of the internet (hyperlinks, overwhelming volume of content, global reach, search functions) are taken for granted. Social media blew it up a billion fold.

In the beginning, TDR was about "the small press scene." It was never about "Canlit" writ large.

"Small press" was managable, right? Wrong. So wrong.

The diversity available from Canada's small press has been large and diverse for a long time. Since before TDR. By running TDR, I learned so much. I learned there was more than my initial, meagre vision could contemplate.

Then life intervened, and I pulled the plug, took a break.

After the hiatus, TDR returned in 2011, using Blogger, and focused on being smaller. We focused on publishing fiction, my greatest joy.

What a long series of pleasures it has been to introduce writers to a wider audience, especially to give writers their first publication.

What was TDR looking for? What was our "thing"? I have struggled to articulate this.

What I know is, I liked to find what I didn't expect. Which doesn't mean I looked for the odd or the weird, just the thing that didn't conform to stereotype (being weird can be a kind of stereotype).

TDR published all kinds of stories, from all kinds of writers, some strongly traditional, others wildly experimental.

I'm confident that short stories will continue to be championed by editors and publishers -- and sought out by readers. They are a barometer of our times, tracking the imagination, and the form is far from exhausted, as the writers who have submitted to TDR through the years have perpetually proven.

They don't do it for the money, that's for sure.

I hope we inspired many, as we kept doing what we do. What we did.

If TDR is remembered for anything, I hope it is remembered for sharing peeks into spaces previously unknown.

Where we have made errors, they are entirely mine.

Enormous gratitude to all of the "staff" of TDR over the years. You made it possible: Geoff Cook, Dani Couture, Nathaniel G. Moore, Shane Neilson, Karen Press, all of the reviewers, all of the authors who agreed to be interviewed, everyone who ever contributed, everyone who ever submitted..... And Nathan Whitlock for editing an issue, back in the day.

I met someone recently who told me she'd submitted something in the early days of TDR and I'd rejected her work. She's gone on to publish two novels (so far), both New York Times best selling.

So what do I know? Keep writing, never give up.


Michael Bryson, September 2018

Photo by Michael Bryson, July 2018, at the memorial for the Danforth Avenue mass shooting.


  1. Michael, thank you for all the hard work you've put in over the years. It's people like you, the cultivators, who have made Canlit the thriving eclectic scene it is today.

  2. great summary statement on your process and the larger publishing and writing milieu.