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Issue 3, Volume 17 | March 2020

Issue 209, Winter 2019

New Winter Issue

Buy now from TMR's site.

Winter Issue Book Review

I Am a Body of Land

Unlearning. This is the undercurrent of Shannon Webb-Campbell’s I Am a Body of Land and a response to her controversial and now infamous collection Who Took My Sister? Released in a flurry of accolades, the book was then promptly pulled from circulation amidst concerns of breach of Indigenous Storytelling Protocol, and the fallout from that experience could have tempted the writer down a truly different path. Where many may have simply licked their wounds and plowed forward, or, worse, refused to acknowledge the damage caused by their best intentions, Webb-Campbell revisits, rather than abandons, the highly criticized work, examining ways of reparation, acknowledging past errors, and attempting to acknowledge self-education as an Indigenous woman and an artist speaking the stories of a community in the midst of generations of pain and healing.

It strikes me that this collection is not an apology. It is an attempt to understand the root of past mistakes, and to move forward causing no further harm. It is an ecdysis, the sloughing off of old skin and the growing into a new one. The result is beautiful and aware, a timely exploration of cultural and generational trauma, identity, and purpose. It is an act of humility, admonishment, and personal and artistic growth. The collection is an intersecting of art and catechism—a new forum for poetry to question its intrinsic role in healing and all the ways in which our own path toward self-understanding can bring unintended pain.

This book is an honest desire to speak the past, for Webb-Campbell to understand her own colonized mentality, and to acknowledge the ways in which this colonization informs part of her Indigenous understanding. “… L’nu Neuptjeg. / I’m Mi’kmaq forever … I am a translation of a translation.” She walks the space between Indigenous and Settler storytelling with both delicacy and confidence.

Read the full review by Cara-Lyn Morgan.

CanLit for Your Reading List

New and Noteworthy

Review space may be limited in our quarterly magazine, but we’re delighted to share this list of new Canadian books. *Please note that inclusion on the list does not necessarily preclude a print review. 

Read the full list of new and noteworthy Canadian titles.

Calling All Emerging Poets!

Far Horizons Award for Poetry 2020

Submit your best for a chance to win $1000 (CAD). Entry fee is reduced to a special price! The Far Horizons Award for Poetry is specifically for emerging poets—eligible writers have yet to publish their poetry in book form.

Entry fee (comes with a one-year print subscription):
$25 CAD for Canadian entries
$30 USD for entries from the USA
$35 USD for entries from elsewhere

Additional entries cost $15 CAD from anywhere, no limit!

This year's judge is Yusuf Saadi. (Read an interview with him below!)

Full contest guidelines available on TMR's website.


Interview with Far Horizons Award for Poetry Judge, Yusuf Saadi

Pluviophile by Yusuf SaadiMalahat Review volunteer Sarah Brennan-Newell talks with the 2020 Far Horizons Award for Poetry judge about being on the other side of the contest process, how there’s no formula for a great poem, and how poetry can renew our belief in possibility.


SBN: As a judge, what are you looking for in a winning entry? What separates a good poem from a great one?

YS: I certainly won’t be ticking a checklist as I’m reading through poems, but I’ll be transparent about what I tend to admire. Lyrical poems that dream of being song and unabashedly flaunt formal elements—metres, rhymes, traditional forms, etc. Wince-inducing imagery. Poems that reach for the sacred—I don’t primarily mean in a religious sense, but that’s possible too. A poem whose surface language is enjoyable on an initial read and reveals depth on rereading. Poems unafraid of desire, intimacy, sadness.

A great poem makes you feel it a miracle that any human being brought it into existence. There’s no formula for it; it shows you something you’ve never seen before. In contrast, I tend to dislike poems which are derivative of pre-meditated ideas and/or are derivative of academic ideas.

Read the rest of Yusuf's interview on TMR's website.


Winter Issue Interview with Julia Brush on Poetry

Julia BrushMalahat Review volunteer and past contributor Ugonna-Ora Owoh talks with the issue #209 contributor about what she wants from a poem, how we bring meaning to our experiences, and the power of the mythic and the sacred in her poem, "Oracular."


UO: There’s an obvious theme of prophecy and mythology throughout. Did you come up with the theme first, or did it surface later (like the poem claimed its space)? Do you often incorporate these themes into your writing?

JB: The first words that came to me in my kitchen that day were, “I was such a cynic when I met you/Now they call me Delphic.” I have always been attracted to the power of the mythic and the sacred as a way for language to do something impossible. For me, my poetry originates from that space where you can suspend disbelief long enough to be entranced within the world. I often become overwhelmed by the mundane and the unstable nature of the future, so poetry mostly becomes the place where prophecy can achieve something against every other uncertainty.

Read the rest of Julia's interview as well as her poem, "Oracular," on TMR's website.


Winter Issue Interview with Dawn Lo on CNF

Dawn LoMalahat Review volunteer James Kendrick talks with the issue #209 contributor about clarity through distance, giving voice to her experiences, and how place factors into her sense of identity in her memoir, "Life Cycles."


JK: There is a motif of deep connection between one’s sense of self and the place of their birth. Given this, and the theme of returning home versus living as an expatriate, could you talk a little bit about your life in Singapore, why you moved there from Canada, and how that is connected to your writing? 

DL: I moved abroad, as most people do, because of work, either their own or their partner’s. “Expat” is such a dirty word to me. A lot of expats like to make Asia their playground, without acknowledging their privilege or trying to immerse in local culture in a meaningful way. Immigrants are expected to assimilate. Expats are not.

But the fact of the matter is I, by definition, have been an expat for a long time. I grew up a Third Culture Kid in Beijing, but being Chinese in ethnicity and heritage meant that I didn’t have the stereotypical experience, at least intellectually. It was a strange and humbling experience looking like a local and living, in the broad strokes, the local culture but knowing you were better off financially. I think this is why my writing is obsessively about identity and belonging.  

Read the rest of Dawn's interview as well as an excerpt of "Life Cycles" on TMR's website.

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