I don’t think I can actually remember what I was doing in April of 1975, but I am pretty sure it was not reading The Malahat, because I was still an ink-stained and wretched journalist then. So, for me, reading through Issue 34 has been a moveable international feast. Poetry from all around the world sustains this issue. Poet and translator Derk Wynand, now retired from the Department of Writing at the University of Victoria but still working at his craft, has translated two poems from Austrian writer, Hans Carl Artmann. I particularly enjoyed the sly wit of “My God Am I Glad It’s My Birthday.” In fact, I plan to memorize that poem for every forthcoming birthday party of anyone over fifty: “my god am I glad it’s my birthday / like a riot the day has woken me up / do you hear the steamers toot the captains / wear suns rosettes and patent leather shoes / bring an easy-chair for freedom / and a garland for my beautiful eyes.” Now, isn’t that a lot better than an off-tune and dolorous “Happy Birthday to youuuu”?
Issue 34, as I said, is a feast of many flavours, proving that The Malahat shaped cosmopolitan readership almost forty years ago, well before “globalism.” It features such poets as Jose Emilio Pacheco (Mexico); Syed Shamsul Haq (Bangladesh); Shen Chou (China; Jaroslav Seifert (Czeckoslovakia) and Par Lagerkvist (Sweden) as well as prose by Edward Marcotte and Rick de Marinis. But alas: even though feminism was burgeoning in the mid-seventies, male voices predominate: only ten women writers are invited to the table here. Of particular note are three poems by Jeni Couzyn, born in South Africa, but in 1975 a writer in residence at the University of Victoria. Reviewer Linda Sandler comments on two books, A Nation Unaware by Vancouver Playwright Herschel Hardin, and Colombo’s Canadian Quotations, edited by John Robert Colombo. Sadly, both books’ Canadian publishers—J.J. Douglas and Hurtig—are no longer extant.
—Lynne Van Luven