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Issue #173

Issue Date: Winter 2010
Editors: John Barton and Rhonda Batchelor
Pages: 96
Number of contributors: 23

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Cover of issue #173

This edition of the Malahat Review feels remarkable, not only for the consistent excellence of the contained work, but for the impression of an unfolding as the reader passes through the consuming worlds of each of the pieces. There are two short stories, eighteen poems, six reviews, and, most notably, a piece of creative nonfiction by Eve Joseph titled “Intimate Strangers,” which won the 2010 Creative Non-Fiction Prize, as well as Gold at the 2011 Western Magazine Awards, and an Honorable Mention at the National Magazine Awards. “Intimate Strangers,” the first piece in the issue, is, on its surface, a very personal account of working at a hospice. The narrative moves forward without a strict plot, or crises, or resolutions, but almost as thoughts or points of interest that lead through the writer’s impressions of death and dying.  “Intimate Strangers” is a remarkable example of unconventional narrative techniques in very personal and emotive creative nonfiction. Newcomer (at the time) Kris Bertin’s raw, yet tender, story of lustful young love, “Girl on the Fire Escape,” was awarded the Jack Hodgins’ Founders’ Award for Fiction, as judged by Caroline Adderson.

The balance between the amount of prose and poetry feels natural, and much of the poetry serves to give respite from the intense and enveloping prose storytelling. This issue is really a lesson on how to structure a magazine in order to not overwhelm a reader all at once with all the emotional content but guide them through the narrative that is the magazine itself. “Intimate Strangers,” Shane Rhodes’ two poems, and Diedre Dore’s story “Sappers Bridge” confront real-world subject matter in very close narrative voices and all three works possess a sense of ambiguity in their conclusions; these pieces feel like the anchors around which the rest of the work flows.

The poems by Robert Colman, Andrew McEwan, Erina Harris, and Stephen de Paul, are very different from each other, almost in a playful way, which sets up the next series of powerful and evocative pieces. Shane Rhodes’ poems are memorable both in their technique—a prose poem and a found poem—and content. “Pearl” is a remarkable block of continuous text wherein every line contains multiple disparate images, leading the reader through a maze of places and times. “The Body” is a found-word poem based on questions taken from an online HIV/AIDS resource called “The Body.” It is a poem of startling honesty and naivety, containing many different points-of-view; the best executed found-poem I have ever read. Together, these poems won Poetry Gold at the 2011 National Magazine Awards.

There is another block of consistently well-done poems by Jessica Hiemstra-Van der Horst, Jason Heroux, Anne Compton, and Kenny Tanemura. Following the poems is “Sappers Bridge” by Diedre Dore, a Gold winner for fiction at the 2011 Western Magazine Awards. It is a moral tale centered on the encounters between a family with two young daughters and the old loner that lives across from them. The ambiguity surrounding the conduct of the old man gives the story its draw; Dore leaves it to the reader to cast judgement on the behaviour of the characters.

The issue concludes with fine poems by Laurie D. Graham, Kathy Mac, and Orlando Ricardo Menes, and book reviews by Anita Lahey, Jay Ruzesky, Brenda Proctor, Robert G. May, Karen Schindler, and Chelsea Rushton.

—Quinn Stacey

 

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