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Issue #154

Issue Date: Spring 2006
Editor: John Barton
Pages: 112
Number of contributors: 22

Buy Issue 154: Print Edition

Cover of issue #154

First, my apologies to the other contributors of this issue for my need to quote the whole of Robert Colman’s first published piece, “Giving It Up for Bill Frisell.”

I listen to his music
like a dog learns the pine wood floor’s
woof—the paw-scratch shuffle,
the slipper hiss, the welcoming creak of
a house, playing the bones. Don’t ask me to
sing it or describe, I’ll only bark or whimper.
But come close enough, listen to the pant
leg ruffle, toes curling around
the chair leg, the grr at the back
of my tongue, I’m a dead giveaway
for joy.

Bravo! Catherine Owen continues the canine theme with her Three Dog Sonnets.

Sue Wheeler, Heather Cadsby, and Sina Queyras’ poems highlight moments in the lives of women. Wheeler writes of her mother in “5 ½ AAA,” “…she appears as a shoeprint cut from a thin // sheet of copper, slender, elegant, oh Mother, where did you go / all those years, into your own private elsewhere.” In Cadsby’s, “Speaking of those Days,” “…Girls were still watching girdles / and their mothers’ morning struggles / with elastic, talcumed rubber and binderbras. / Mine scrimshawed her way into / a whew as her breasts disappeared.” Queyras has “…Women clicking on manual typewriters. Whole offices of scritch, scritch, scritch and ping, ping, ping as the carriage released and rolled up. How we embraced the correctable ribbon. How we coveted whiteout.”

John Steffler, Parliamentary Poet Laureate (2006-2008), contributes seven poems. Former Malahat Editor, Derk Wynand, translates from the German a poem by Dorothea Grunzweig.

Fiction contributors J.M. Villaverde and Terence Young’s stories are Fun House mirror images. Villaverde’s, Viglio vivere una favola, is a fictional account of a young Henry James on a trip abroad. The story is recounted in Jamesian-style, and the young man goes with the full support of his family--kindly letters are exchanged. The mocking tone of Young’s story, “The Garden of the Fugitives,” couldn’t be further from the earnestness of the first. Blair, “the older brother,” has been enlisted to go to Italy in search of this younger brother to deliver three letters outlining why “that brat” should refrain from marrying the young woman he has recently met. “The…letters were like so many others Blair had seen over the years, …his family’s way of expressing disapproval of itself, a private scolding that seemed to suit stationery better than phones or email.” Shortly before his departure, he meets with a bizarre accident which, in an odd way, does mirror an incident in the Villaverde story.

The work in this Malahat reads as fresh as if it were a current issue.

—Lucy Bashford

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