Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Canadian Journals

Thinking about Canadian literary journals. Partly this is because I have undergraduate classes and I want to send them off to find the hottest new fiction and poetry, which means I want to know what they will find. But I am also trying to figure out what's going on in Canadian fiction (the revolution is apparently not being discussed). Where is new Canadian fiction appearing? Who is supporting the next generation? Do comment if there is somewhere you look to find exciting fiction in Canada. Otherwise I'll go through the publications and eventually hit them all. The following list is a beginning; it's arbitrary, unscientific, and largely concerns poetry. There is a poll to the right if you care to take part. More to come.

Arc Literary Journal out of Ottawa has a new poetry editor. Rob Winger takes up the position, not over from Anita Lahey, as originally stated. Lahey is still editor. The journal is not one I have ever quite felt connected to--but Ottawa is one of the few Canadian cities of which I have no sense of the literary scene or connection to it. In any case, I appreciate the ongoing "How Poems Work" features online which I didn't know about until Rob Winger pointed it out this fall. My sense is that this journal favors formal poetry.

West Coast Line gets more and more interesting, and is a current favorite. Recent issues have included a fabulous (if unjustly skewed in terms of gender) issue on Vancouver photography titled "Unfinished Business," a special issue on Roy Miki, "Active Geographies," a special issue on the struggles of west coast women edited by Jo-ann Lee and Rita Wong. This is a journal that prints poetry, photography, and critical writing that blurs boundaries between all of the above. Editor Glen Lowry.

Event is one of several west coast journals that seem to be flexing some literary muscle, more traditional in tone and editorial choices than WCL it does feature "Notes on writing," first person accounts from a different writer each issue. Editor Rick Maddocks, poetry editor Elizabeth Bachinsky, and fiction editor Christine Dewar.

The Capilano Review, which should be on the list to the right and I suspect is making an appearance in "other," is, like West Coast Line, publishing a more complex poetic. Recent issues include a special Sharon Thesen issue, and a Capilano College issue. I think it's safe to say that TCR is coming into its own. Editors: Jenny Penberthy and Sachiko Murakami.

Grain Magazine has the Short Grain contest which has been very popular over the years, and has in some way, been a great encourager of the prose poem in Canada. I've heard people complain that there is little editorial vision over at Grain because it is a journal that changes editors regularly. It has always seemed to me a "young" journal, and that's not a bad thing. It's good to have a journal that takes risks. In any case, the poet Sylvia Legris has taken over as editor which might spell a new incarnation.

The New Quarterly is another journal that I know little about. Recently we saw the Salon Refuses there, a response to the new Penguin Anthology of short fiction in Canada. I'm in the process of reading through that anthology and I have to say, so far so bad. I am beginning to see why people were so frustrated with this publication. As for TNQ itself, I'm still working through old issues and have yet to formulate any clear opinion. Editor Kim Jernigan.

dandelion, out of the University of Calgary, is a feisty little publication with no web presence for me to link to. You'll have to trust me on that. Editor Michael Roberson.

It's common these days to whine about Atwood's Survival thesis, but doesn't the question of nature, landscape and our relationship to it just get more and more important, confusing and complicated? The Malahat Review (out of Victoria) is launching its Green Issue this week--wish I could be there. Readings by Jan Zwicky, Tim Lilburn, Patricia Young, Jay Ruzesky, Carol Matthews and John Barton. Most people would describe the Malahat as being on the conservative end of the literary journal spectrum, which may be true, but they are one of the most consistent journals in Canada, and one of the few to feature well written reviews. I don't always love everything I read here, but I usually think it's good. Editor John Barton.

Brock has a journal (who knew?) and they have a new Green Issue, all of it availabe as pdfs online which is very nice, though I am also looking forward to the physical issue. (Note to editors and publishers, they aren't the same thing, and in many cases, people want both...) Do check out Kristine Thoreson's series of photographs titled "Imaging the Urban Park." This is a humanities journal, very intriguing set of essays though.


functional nomad said...

Cool list.

If I may, Brock also has a literary journal -- PRECIPICe -- that publishes poetry, experimental poetry, and fiction.

Lemon Hound said...

Thanks nomad, I had no idea Brock had a literary journal! Why no online component??

functional nomad said...

Yeah, the website is rather weak. A new site is in progress, but we don't have a suitable model for dealing with online permissions to reproduce texts as of yet. It is on the horizon though -- and, to note, the Brock Review has been pestering us to go entirely online.

Lemon Hound said...

Hm. Well, I wonder which university will be the first in Canada to wake to the benefits of such a move?

On the other hand, I think in tandem is good. I really don't see the end of print, don't think it's necessary. I think the net has something to add, but I don't think it should replace books, magazines, and journals by any means.

It will make what works in either format more evident though, and that's a good thing.

Brenda Schmidt said...

I'm a big fan of The New Quarterly. There's definitely editorial vision there. The mix of essays, art and author profiles followed by a selection of the author's work is the kind of thing I like. It helps me get to know who is out there and helps me decide if I want to invest in a collection of their work. Single poems or stories in journals aren't enough to make me Add to Cart. I'd like to see more journals adopt TNQ's approach, journals whose tastes are different.

Lemon Hound said...

That's a good point about the mix, and perhaps a weakness in many journals--Malahat Review, Colorado Review and the like. CV2 includes the interviews: also good.