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From the archives

Carbon Copy

In equal balance justly weighed

Slouching toward Democracy

Where have all the wise men gone?

By Populist Demand

When urban and rural voters went separate ways

Keith Garebian

Keith Garebian has just published his eleventh poetry collection, Three-Way Renegade, as well as a memoir, Pieces of Myself.

Articles by
Keith Garebian

Mission Critical

Bruce Whiteman collects his thoughts May 2024
With graduate degrees in English literature and library science, Bruce Whiteman was a rare book specialist for over thirty years, working at McMaster and McGill Universities and later running the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library at the University of California, Los Angeles. Throughout his long career as librarian, poet, essayist, and teacher, he has demonstrated a deep love for…

Kitchen Stuff Plus

The world through Mary Pratt’s eyes April 2024
This lavishly illustrated biography gives the painter Mary Pratt her due. Combining art criticism and journalistic narrative, Anne Koval makes a strong case for Pratt’s work as “sideways autobiography,” to quote the curator Mireille Eagan. Tracing the artist’s life from her early childhood in Fredericton to her final years in St. John’s, the book benefits enormously from the author’s direct access to her subject as well as to Pratt’s…

Naked Truth

Because colonial habits die hard March 2024
A member of Fisher River First Nation in Manitoba, Kent Monkman is a two-spirit cisgender man whose paintings about the adventures of his alter ego, Miss Chief Eagle Testickle, dramatically confront chronic misrepresentations of Indigenous hist­ory and culture. Miss Chief’s very name contains a double pun on androgyny and mischief as well as being a satiric…

Picture Book

Glimpses of the Black Star Collection November 2023
Since 1839, observed Susan Sontag in On Photography, “just about everything has been photographed, or so it seems.” She added that the “insatiability of the photographing eye” has taught us a new visual code, altering and enlarging “our notions of what is worth looking at and what we have a right to observe.” For…

Frames of Mind

What William Kurelek saw October 2023
The curator Sarah Milroy asks, “Was Kurelek celebrating the success of Jewish settlers in Canada or grieving their struggle to belong?” It’s an apt question, given William Kurelek’s bedevilled life. Born in 1927, to Ukrainian Orthodox parents on a grain farm north of Willingdon, Alberta, he was the eldest of seven children. He knew what it meant to be an outsider in a community dominated by Anglo-Saxon…

Well Said

Storytelling for our times July | August 2023
Discussions of storytelling are often bedevilled by pedants, publicists, and proselytizers with predispositions to corporate-type formulations. The internet, for example, offers the three Ps, the four characteristics, the five Cs, and the seven functions of storytelling. For those with moral or religious leanings, those seven functions can be expanded to ten, including illustrations of “relationships…

A Diasporic Voice

Lorna Goodison takes on the essay June 2023
Lorna Goodison’s first book of essays can be read as a rough map of her literary peregrinations. A trained painter and copy editor, Goodison is better known as a short story writer and, especially, a celebrated poet. The first female poet laureate of Jamaica and a winner of the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, she is a diasporic voice whose best work is steeped in both English literary tradition and Jamaican…

Their Names in Lights

Canadian women who made it big April 2023
Cecilia Morgan, the author of the 2017 monograph Travellers through Empire: Indigenous Voyages from Early Canada, has now produced a book where her spadework digs up interesting facts and sidelights about Canadian actresses who made it big abroad. In their era — from the 1870s to the 1940s — Shakespeare was not considered a damnable foreign…

His Response

George Elliott Clarke’s side of the story November 2022
The poet George Elliott Clarke has won many awards and distinctions, but he has also found himself one of this country’s most excoriated writers in recent years. The backstory is a long one. In 1995, on the outskirts of Regina, Steven Tyler Kummerfield (“an ex-Crown minister’s grandson”) and Alex Ternowetsky (“a prof’s scion”) raped and murdered a young Indigenous mother named Pamela…

Slings and Arrows

Two critics take aim September 2022
In most cases, an immigrant chooses Canada more than Canada chooses the immigrant. Accordingly, the newcomer has the right to be critical of any national myth, not simply to lament or denigrate but to help make things better. Far too often, though, immigrants are expected to be grateful. They’re admonished, sometimes vehemently, for any criticism they make — …

Making a Scene

Experimental film is ready for its close-up June 2022
As a genre, Experimental film has frequently — and justifiably —  been excoriated for a sort of brutalism. Writing in The New Republic in 1966, for example, Pauline Kael commented on its pompousness, impersonal dexterity, clever gimmicks, and plain messiness, as in “uneven lighting, awkward editing, flat camera work, the undramatic succession of…

His Superlatives

Tomson Highway’s joy April 2022
It is December 5, 1951, in a remote area of the Subarctic, “the most beautiful location on the face of the Earth, northern Manitoba where it meets Saskatchewan, the Northwest Territories, and what, since 1999, has been called Nunavut.” The Cree caribou hunter and dogsled racer Joe Highway — along with his wife, Balazee, who is pregnant with their eleventh…

The Director

How his tradition got started September 2021
As is often the case, Canada is late to the cultural party for one of its best artists. It was not until 1992 that Norman Jewison — ­easily our top film director, with artistic and box-office hits that stretch back to the 1960s — was made a companion of the Order of Canada. This was long after his work had earned dozens of international…

A Pointed Life

Kaija Pepper’s variation on form May 2021
Kaija Pepper has authored several notable studies on Canadian dance. Currently the editor of Dance International magazine and a critic for the Globe and Mail, she has contributed to numerous national and international anthologies, journals, and theatre programs. Her expertise, both theoretical and practical, is well earned, for she studied classical and jazz…

No Country for Young Women

The latest from Ava Homa January | February 2021
The Kurdish people have a long history of denied legitimacy, which has forced their authors to write in languages other than their own. Consider the writer and filmmaker Kae Bahar, who survived torture as a teenager and an attempt on his life by ISIS. After fleeing to England, he published Letters from a Kurd in…

Collected Thoughts

Self-portrait of a curator December 2020
Our consumer-driven society has vulgarized the terms “curator” and “curating.” It seems as if almost anyone with an Instagram account can be a curator and that just about anything can be curated. As Jason Farago has pointed out in The New York Review of Books, restaurants today sell “curated salads,” home goods stores peddle “carefully curated sheets,” and daycare centres offer “curated care.” There are legions of curated…

Personal Battlegrounds

The enigma of Timothy Findley October 2020
A former dancer and professional actor, Timothy Irving Frederick Findley, or Tiff to his family and friends, enjoyed performing as a public speaker and, more interestingly, as a writer. He wrote plays that dealt with the problems of his own psyche, and many of his short stories and novels contain stage directions, or what could be regarded as…

Man of the Miramichi

A new collection by David Adams Richards May 2020
After eighteen books of fiction and four of non-fiction, David Adams Richards has published his second collection of essays. Richards, whose Mercy among the Children won the Giller Prize in 2000, has put together twenty-eight essays, in two blocks, some culled from as far back as thirty-five years ago. Some have previously appeared in newspapers and other…

Me, Myself, and India

The debut collection from Anosh Irani March 2020
With his debut short story collection, the award-winning novelist and playwright Anosh Irani could have simply presented seven stories about characters caught between two worlds and two identities. That would have delivered an adequate rendering of the complexities of the immigrant reality. As it is, his new work offers much more. Rife with satire and ironic…

Curtain Call

Images that have shaped the Canadian stage December 2019
I first got to know Susan Benson over the many years I reviewed the Stratford Festival, starting in 1976 (during the long-vanished golden era of Robin Phillips). The celebrated British designer was already putting her stamp on Canadian theatre, opera, and ballet, and my admiration for her work resulted in a fairly extensive personal collection of her…