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about

This song is probably going to puzzle everybody who isn't Canadian. Long story short: "CanLit" is Canadian literature, but not all Canadian literature is deemed worthy of being termed "CanLit." CanLit constitutes the stuff you're SUPPOSED to read and, for the most part, are forced to read in school. Some of it is wonderful. Some of it is meh. Much of it involves...well, let us call them "familiar tropes." Very little of it could also be called "genre fiction." We certainly wouldn't want our eminent body of literary fiction to be polluted by science fiction...or fantasy...or mystery...or horror...or romance. But magic realism's all right if it's ironic and postmodern and stuff.

It is possible that writers who work mostly with genre fiction sometimes get a wee bit frustrated with the whole "CanLit" thing. Or a lot bit frustrated. Or MASSIVELY, MASSIVELY FRUSTRATED. This song involves shouting and is thus a good way to let off steam.

lyrics

CanLit

Our literary magazine is looking for submissions.
We hope you will consider sending us a story, though
Before you do, please notice that we have a few conditions
It is important that you know.

I've heard that you are fond of spaceships and of conversations
Between old ghosts and children set on futuristic Mars.
These do not fit our guidelines, which have served as the foundations
For how we choose our writing stars.

We want your CanLit. (CANLIT!)
Meaningful and gritty. Give us CanLit. (CANLIT!)
Because ennui is witty.
Postmodern or historical, with lots of metaphorical
And patly categorical bad weather that will fit
Into your CanLit. (CANLIT!)
Fulfilling expectations, that is CanLit. (CANLIT!)
With a smidgeon of First Nations.
We don't want your unrealistic shit.
Just fill us up with good CanLit. (CANLIT!)

We're running out of stories of Alberta and of farming
Set around the Great Depression; those are never stale.
A bored housewife protagonist will be completely charming
As long as you yourself are male.

Stick in outdated gender norms and social indiscretion
And blizzards that are metaphors, and one important pie
Embodying the housewife's clearly blameworthy repression.
And also, someone's got to die.

We want your CanLit. (CANLIT!)
Meaningful and gritty. Give us CanLit. (CANLIT!)
Because ennui is witty.
Postmodern or historical, with lots of metaphorical
And patly categorical bad weather that will fit
Into your CanLit. (CANLIT!)
Fulfilling expectations, that is CanLit. (CANLIT!)
With a smidgeon of First Nations.
We don't want your unrealistic shit.
Just fill us up with good CanLit. (CANLIT!)

For Gothic in Ontario,
Don't go and make it scary; oh,
No: Gothic in Ontario
Should just be kind of twee.
If you were born in Newfoundland
Just write of unemployment and
A broken hero, bent and tanned,
Who broods upon the quay.
Magic realism's okay
If you're from B.C.

You want awards and funding, so don't make your story happy,
And if it fits a genre, you will find you're out of luck
Unless you're Margaret Atwood, and you're not, so take your crappy
Formula away; you suck.

Perhaps our categories may appear a bit restrictive,
But we know what sort of fiction makes this country great.
Your otherworldly fantasy may read as quite addictive,
But can the average scholarly Toronto WASP relate?

We want your CanLit. (CANLIT!)
Meaningful and gritty. Give us CanLit. (CANLIT!)
Because ennui is witty.
Postmodern or historical, with lots of metaphorical
And patly categorical bad weather that will fit
Into your CanLit. (CANLIT!)
Fulfilling expectations, that is CanLit. (CANLIT!)
With a smidgeon of First Nations.
We don't want your unrealistic shit.
Just fill us up with good CanLit. (CANLIT!)

We want your CanLit. (CANLIT!)
Meaningful and gritty. Give us CanLit. (CANLIT!)
Because ennui is witty.
Postmodern or historical, with lots of metaphorical
And patly categorical bad weather that will fit
Into your CanLit. (CANLIT!)
Fulfilling expectations, that is CanLit. (CANLIT!)
With a smidgeon of First Nations.
We don't want your unrealistic shit.
Just fill us up with good CanLit. (CANLIT!)

Just fill us up with good Can—
Barely understood Can—
Fill us up with good CanLit!

credits

from Everybody Hates Elves, released April 8, 2015
Written and performed by Kari Maaren.
Shouty echoes provided by attendees of the

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Kari Maaren Toronto, Ontario

Kari Maaren is a Toronto musician who plays geeky ukulele songs about monsters and superheroes. She isn't sure why, but it amuses her, so that's all right.

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