Matthew Stepanic | Top 40 Under 40 2019

He helps dozens of emerging and marginalized writers launch their careers. 

Photograph by Daniel Wood

Age: 29

Job title: Co-founder, editor, publisher, Glass Buffalo magazine; Co-founder, Glass Bookshop; Writer in Residence, Edmonton Public Library.

Why he’s a 2019 Top 40 Under 40: He helps dozens of emerging and marginalized writers launch their careers.

It started out simply enough: a year-end, collaborative project for a creative writing course. The class was small — only about 11 students, many of whom had never had their work published — but the intimate size meant that the group could get creative with their final project.

“Our professor was so impressed with what we’d produced, one day she mentioned the idea of a magazine as our final project, and we just all jumped at it,” says Stepanic, adding that he was eager to take on much of the editing and coordination for the issue.

Seven years after that first issue was printed, Glass Buffalo is still going strong, having released its 20th issue in July. Since 2012, Glass Buffalo Publishing has shared the voices of over 160 emerging writers through the magazine and several poetry chapbooks.

Stepanic has also established his own freelance writing career, having published numerous poems and articles in magazines across the country, as well as a novella, a chapbook of poetry inspired by RuPaul’s Drag Race and a play he wrote and co-directed at the Edmonton International Fringe Festival called The 3 A.M. Subtext.

Stepanic was naturally intrigued when friend and fellow author Jason Purcell suggested the two team up to open a bookshop. “I feel like every writer has a dream to open a bookshop,” he says.

And so, Glass Bookshop was born. Part wine bar, part community hub, the store, currently in a temporary downtown location, will be accessible and operate with a mandate to support queer, Indigenous and writers of colour, as well as independent Canadian publishers who publish these voices. A permanent space is set to open in early 2020. “Through Glass Bookshop, I’m hoping we can continue to lift the voices of marginalized writers, and help Edmonton grow as this mecca for arts and literature.”

This article appears in the November 2019 issue of Avenue Edmonton.

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