I look forward to Event’s nonfiction contest issue every year, and it’s always worth the wait. In addition to the three winning essays, this issue includes the work of ten poets (who couldn’t be more different from each other); three fiction contributors; and a number of reviews. Contest judge John Burns, executive editor of Vancouver Magazine, describes his winning selections, quite accurately it seems to me, as works that “speak truths privately experienced, publicly recounted…told with creativity, absolutely, but also, we trust, with fidelity.” We can’t, of course, know if this is true, but these writers (Eufemia Fantetti, Katherine Fawcett, and Ayelet Tsabari) make me believe that it is so, which amounts to the same thing.
Fantetti’s “Alphabet Autobiografica,” an abecedary in prose, is an exceptional work that explores the intersections and relationships between language as a product of cultural (immigrant experience) and psychological (her mother’s schizophrenia) realities. Fawcett and Tsabari also recount personal stories within the context of larger social realities. (Tsabari’s is a particularly disturbing story of an assault and subsequent victimization in attempting to manage the police/legal aspects of dealing with the assault.) Fawcett and Tsabari’s prose styles are casual, but never sloppy or unconsidered. All three essays are original, polished, clever, and moving.
Poems in this issue represents the vastly different possibilities that poetry offers, from Mike Borkent’s diagrammatic pieces; to Dina DelBucchia’s edgy prose poems (“I am fucking Lindsay Lohan in the back of a pick-up truck”); to Sue Sinclair’s portrait of old age in “How to be Hungry” (“His window has ceased to be a view, / is now that through which / he waits for something to enter”).
Canada has many exciting, very fine small and commercial presses, so reviews in Event are especially pleasing, introducing readers to works we might not otherwise come across. How could I not want to find out more about a poetry volume with a title like asking questions indoors and out (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2009) or a nonfiction work titled Marrying Hungary (Signature Editions, 2008)?
Finally, I must comment on Event’s wonderful cover, although I confess I am not sure about its physical composition, which is not described (photo of an installation, photograph?). It’s a set of small dolls (androgynous, leaning toward male in appearance), small wooden-seeming creatures with similar, but distinct facial expressions and attire, all either sad or perturbed or confused or struggling to hide emotion, all of which is evident merely from the sketchiest of detail. Artist Margaret Matsyuma says of her work: “I am drawn to work evoking childhood experience and the formation of identity, and its repression when it does not conform to social norms.” She does this beautifully in a subtle way that manages to capture an immense array of emotions in an economical and original presentation – emblematic of the journal’s work overall. [event.douglas.bc.ca]