Matrix, Spring 2009, Issue 82 – It’s only natural that I start with Montreal-based Matrix when writing about the Canadian lit magazines I read. It really represents the stuff I love in these types of publications: a healthy mix of emerging and established writers, a variety of styles, a good undercurrent of energy infusing the whole thing and an overall respect for the literary community. Plus it has comics. The Spring 2009 issue is the anxiety issue, edited by Mikhail Iossel and John Goldbach and has short stories and poems based around the theme of anxiety. For instance, Josip Novakovich writes about a character buying beta blockers in Saint Petersburg and Jeff Parker’s main character in “Calmth” is trying to figure out how to feed a bald, screaming baby. In addition to the anxiety stuff, I particularly liked the featured poetry of Nick Thran (who summarizes the book I’m currently reading perfectly in his poem “Letter to L From Spencer Ave”: “…I’ve been reading Bolano’s The Savage Detectives / and L. you would love it; desperate young poets/ too frail for this world, barreling through Mexico and Europe toward/ an awareness, I think, that they’ll have to make some other life.” ) There are also featured interviews with Catherine Hunter and Jacob Wren, who are asked questions like “when was the last time you ate a pear?” and “are public readings part of or counter to your creative progress?”, i.e. questions I’m sincerely interested in knowing the answers to.
Oh, and speaking of Canadian magazines, there’s a great post on the Descant blog about the importance of these publications. Kerry Clare writes, “Behind every rejection I’ve ever received is someone who folded a piece of paper into three and licked the envelope shut. Considering the number of rejections I’ve received, that licking and folding has required an enormous amount of manpower, and I am just one ordinary Canadian. From this you may begin to understand the amount of resources necessary to produce a magazine. And that there is really nothing small about these literary magazines after all, except their readership. If you consider 5000 small, that is, and I’m not sure that I actually do.”