A Conversation With a Friend:
Barbara Colebrook Peace

Barbara Colebrook Peace Barbara Colebrook Peace joined the Friends of The Malahat at our Spring issue launch in May, 2011. Malahat circulation and marketing manager, Susan Sanford Blades interviewed her.

You attended our Spring issue launch in May. What were some of your favourite readings from the evening?

I enjoyed the Spring issue launch very much; the readings were full of life and so diverse. To tell you the truth, I enjoyed all the readings! What stood out for me was Cynthia Woodman Kerkham’s lovely glosa, “Late Summer in Frederick Arm,” which was moving and thought-provoking; I also loved Patrick Friesen’s poems, especially “daughter” which haunted me for weeks after the reading. It was a great joy to hear my friend Barbara Stewart read from her book, “Campie,” a creative nonfiction account of her experiences working on a northern oil rig. She and I met in a writing course when we were both setting out on the writing journey, so it meant a lot to me to be there on this occasion.

You couldn’t make it to our recent panel discussion on creative nonfiction. Do you have any suggestions for future Malahat-sponsored panel discussions or workshops?

Yes, I’d really like something on editing from both sides: how to offer editing suggestions, and how to receive editing suggestions, in a way that will most help the work. I think this topic would be of general interest, not just to editors: we are all engaged in trying to help each other so that the work can be the best it can be.

What have been some of your favourite pieces published in The Malahat Review this year?

 I found Eve Joseph’s “Intimate Strangers” outstanding (issue #173, Winter 2010). It’s one of those pieces of writing that actually changes one’s life. These are “comfortable words” in the old sense of that phrase, when it used to mean “words that strengthen.” Reading this thoughtful record of someone who has spent many years working in hospice, I found much to comfort me and much to think about.

Poetry is my favourite form of reading, so  I always read the poems in The Malahat Review first as soon as it arrives. It’s hard to choose among so many excellent poems, but in addition to the ones I already mentioned, I love Darren Bifford’s “Wolf Hunter,” [winner of the 2010 Far Horizons Award for Poetry] and Patricia Young’s palinode, “Heartsick” (both from issue #172, Fall 2010). I very much enjoyed Anita Lahey’s insightful review essay on the three last books of poetry by P. K. Page (issue #173, Winter 2010).

I also loved Dede Crane’s short story “The Fall of Langue d’Occ” (issue #172, Fall 2010). That’s something I read very recently (I don’t read through entire issues when they arrive) and I find myself thinking about it lately when I’m doing the dishes or walking the beach.

Have you taken advantage of any of the other Friends benefits (discount at Renaissance Books, discounted membership to Open Space Arts Society, discounted subscriptions to Arc, EVENT, and/or The Fiddlehead)?

Not yet, just because I’ve been unusually busy, but I do intend to. I was lucky enough to win a subscription to Arc at the Malahat spring issue launch, so I’m looking forward to it!

You are a local poet, with two books of poetry to your name (Duet for Wings and Earth and Kyrie). What is, in your opinion, the importance of literary magazines in cultivating the literary arts in Canada?

Imagine what the world would be like without literary magazines. Cook books and crime books would continue to flourish. For the first few years it might seem as though nothing had happened: we would still have all those back issues of literary magazines to curl up with. But down the road, all sorts of writers simply wouldn’t exist, because they wouldn’t have received the encouragement of an audience and readership. Poets, especially, would start to disappear... Perhaps we’d have to buy tickets at a thousand dollars apiece to go and hear the last living Canadian poet.

Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that! Thank you very much for your time, your thoughtful answers, and your support of the magazine. I hope to see you at our Summer issue launch on September 19th at UVic’s Fine Arts building (more details in the coming weeks).