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Geist - Fall 2009

  • Issue Number: Number 74
  • Published Date: Fall 2009
  • Publication Cycle: Quarterly

I would move to Canada just for the magazines, Geist among them. Geist is published in Vancouver (one of North America’s most creative cities on so many levels), and I don’t imagine it’s easy to find this side of the border, especially on the east coast. But, I doubt they’d turn down your subscription! And I doubt you’ll be sorry if you subscribe.

Geist includes “features” (longer essays with photos, fiction, groups of poems); “notes and dispatches” (short reviews, personal essays, single poems); “findings” (a collection of excerpts and illustrations; “postcard lit” (exactly what it says); “comments” (short analytical pieces); and “departments” (letters, crossword puzzles, a full-page graphic feature, and similar regular contributions). The magazine always manages to be visually exciting, without working too hard to dazzle or distract. There is nothing frivolous, artwork and photos appear in the service of story, message, meaning.

It’s hard to do justice to the sheer range of ideas and realities Geist manages to bring to life in 88 short pages: a provocative little essay on the origins of Halloween in the US by Stephen Osborne; a reflection by Serbian writer and now Calgary resident David Albahari on the absurdities of cultural affiliations and traditions; a “list” by painter Lenore Rowntree and her sister Beth (who “lives in a group home in Vancouver”), a writer, that is sadly smart and smartly about her (“Some things about my sister Beth that I can’t think about for too long without getting sad and confused”); a brief essay considering the meaning of the number of civilian deaths in Iraq since the American invasion on March 20, 1993 by journalist Robert Everett-Green; excerpts from an oral history of native peoples in British Columbia in the first half of the last century reprinted from Paddling to Where I Stand: Agnes Alfred, Qwiqwasutinuxw Noblewoman; a full-page color reprint, “What do You Say Now, Brother?” from a Red: A Haida Manga by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas (a manga is a hybrid form that developed in Asia combining illustrations and stories, something on the order of a comic; the Haida are native peoples in British Columbia, Canada); an extraordinary long photo essay, “Memory and the Valley,” by Sandra Shields and David Campion on British Columbia’s Fraser Valley; another by Marcello DiCintio, “Wall of Shame” about Morocco; a commentary about Canadian resistance to the war in Iraq by Stephen Henighan; a group of poems, “McPoems,” about McDonald’s (the fast-food empire) by Billeh Nickerson; and reviews of books a reader in the US would never know existed unless she heard about them in Geist, including travel memoirs, novels, and short stories.

Don’t let “Badlands. The Canadian Map of Outlaws and Evildoers,” the “Caught Mapping” last page of the magazine diminish your appreciation for all things Canadian. It’s the names! Old Witch Lake. Iago Glacier. Lac Hades. Poison Ivy Falls. Lac Dracula. Medusa Bay. Scrooge Lake. Satans Creek. I’m there!

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Review Posted on January 17, 2010

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