ASHLEY OBSCURA (she/her) is a Canadian-Mexican publisher, editor, and multi-disciplinary poet interested in the intersection of physical and virtual worlds. OBSCURA is the author of three poetry collections: SEXO POR ÚLTIMA VEZ (Socios Fundadores, 2022), AMBIENT TECHNOLOGY (Metatron, 2018) and I AM HERE (Metatron, 2014). Translations of her work have appeared in books and anthologies published in Argentina, Peru, Spain, Romania and Germany. Obscura has been anthologized as one of Canada’s best young poets (30 Under 30, In/Words Press, 2017), one of the most influential female poets in Quebec over the past 20 years (Anthologie de la poésie contemporaine des femmes au Québec, Éditions du remue-ménage, 2021), and named “one of the best poets in Quebec today” (Magazine Spirale, 2019).
OBSCURA is the Founder and Managing Editor of METATRON PRESS (2016), an award-winning literary publisher that publishes experimental and cutting-edge contemporary poetry and fiction in unique pocketbook editions by debut authors. Metatron’s projects include literary books, The Metatron Prize for Rising Authors, the Metacösm podcast, physical and virtual events, and various digital publishing projects, including: the ÖMËGÄ blog; ÄLPHÄ magazine; video poems; micro poems; and GLYPHÖRIA (forthcoming, 2023), a new digital literary platform.
She is also a co-founder of new media studio APOCABLYSS, where she works as a narrative scenographer, scriptwriter, and co-conceptualizer of experimental video games and digital environments, including work on OCEANARIUM (Apocablyss Studios, 2020), SONGS OF THE LOST (Manchester International Festival, 2019), and MUSEUM OF SYMMETRY (National Film Board of Canada, 2018). Museum of Symmetry won multiple awards including the Canadian Screen Award for Best Virtual Reality Game in 2019 for its excellence in digital storytelling.
OBSCURA is an experienced coordinator, public speaker, and presenter. She has been commissioned to create work for Hazlitt, The National Film Board of Canada, Manchester International Festival, NewHive, curate for the Blue Met International Literary Festival, and present work at AWP, Festival Internacional de Poesía de Rosario, Remai Modern, Mutek, and several universities. Obscura's work and affiliated projects have been written about in the New Yorker, Dazed, Flare, Nylon, Pitchfork, Resident Advisor, and more. She is a member of the Writer’s Union of Canada.
Recently, OBSCURA has helped establish INTERTEXT.E, a non-profit organization and center for new trajectories in publication, media and literary arts. She has also been active in and passionate about helping raise money for many human rights organizations and individuals in need of financial support, in Montreal and beyond.
OBSCURA was born and raised on Treaty 6 Territory and the homeland of the Métis (Saskatoon), and has lived the past 16 years of her life in Tiohtiá:ke (Montréal) situated on the traditional territory of the Kanien'kehà:ka.
I discovered my love of poetry in grade 10. I was lucky enough to have a lover of poetry as an English teacher and to go to a high school that offered a Creative Writing class. I remember one of my first poetry classes was devoted to dissecting the meaning of e. e. cummings’ poem “since feeling is first.” I talked the whole class and was fascinated by the realm of metaphor expressed in the poem. This excited me very much. Poetry seemed, to me, to be some sort of puzzle similar to math, but composed of words, sentiment, and feeling.
since feeling is first
e. e. cummings
since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;
wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world
my blood approves,
and kisses are a better fate
lady i swear by all flowers. Don’t cry
– the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids’ flutter which says
we are for each other; then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life’s not a paragraph
And death i think is no parenthesis
I started mimicking poetry in elementary school when I disovered the books of Shel Silverstein, particularily “Where The Sidewalk Ends.” I loved how poetry pointed to this mysterious, magical, internal world that was not visible to the eye.
Learning to write poetry, for me, required a lot of impersonation of writers I admired. I moved in and out of a lot of impersonation before I stumbled upon my own voice and was able to comfortably refer to my self as a poet. I didn’t start introducing my self as a poet until I had completed my undergrad in Creative Writing from Concordia University at the age of 24, although I always considered my self a poet in my mind.
A poet’s job is to synthesize an experience of life into language.
“Regardless” by Aisha Sasha John.