B House's office on the culturally rich 17th Avenue.
Paul Baker/the Gauntlet

Calgary literature's shining light

B House Publications satisfies the city's textual needs

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In the wake of the closing of McNally Robinson, the Calgary literary scene may be in for some hard times. B House Publications, the city's newest publisher, however, is looking like a bright light at the end of the tunnel. At the launch of his new play Writer's Block, prominent local playright Eugene Stickland began the night with an introduction of B House and the young, hard working people behind it. As the evening wore on, it became apparent that it was less about the launching of a new play than the coming out of the new publishing house itself. Several writers involved with the publisher read short excerpts from works that were either in the process of being published or part of an already long list of projects slated for publication.

B House manager Stephanie Davis says the gala surrounding the launch of Stickland's new play was one more idiosyncrasy of a small press with a unique sense of itself. She explains that B House is excited about marketing books in novel ways and one such method involves organizing a book launch around a community event. In this way, the writing is released out of the same context in which it was created, that of Calgary's burgeoning arts community. The second book published by B House, the Caffe Beano Anthology, was launched at Caffe Beano's stampede breakfast.

Caffe Beano is a bustling coffee shop on the corner of Ninth Street and 17th Avenue SW and serves as a regular hangout for many writers, photographers and artists. One wonders what it is about a particular place that attracts so much culture and community. Stickland notes that his own experiences highlight the interesting connection between place, culture and community.

"I've written a novel in the Ming, but I'd never try that at Melrose," he says. "Some biker would probably just rip up my journal and kick my ass out the door."

The Beano anthology is a snapshot of the creative atmosphere that has grown around this coffee shop. On the outside, it is a slim elegant book that fits comfortably in a back pocket. On the inside, it answers Stickland's question, "What are all these people at all those tables writing at this moment in time?"

B House touts itself as a small group of people working hard, and for free, to help fellow playwrights and poets experience the joy of seeing their work in print. With Calgary's thriving local theatre scene doing groundbreaking work, B House fills the niche of exporting published work, something that wasn't happening much before its existence.

Culture and a sense of community are difficult qualities to define before a person has stumbled upon them. This new small press hopes to reinforce both by inspiring more writing and by giving Calgary an opportunity to read about experiences and places that we all share.

For information about B House’s projects or how to submit work, visit theur site.