Iconic journal celebrates 50 years of publishing excellence

Fine Arts, Humanities, Libraries

Outgoing editor John Barton with the first and 200th editions.

A revered University of Victoria literary journal that has served as a springboard for some of the most recognizable names in Canadian publishing is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

The Malahat Review was the first magazine to publish a short story by Yann Martel, 14 years before he went on to win the Booker Prize for the international bestseller Life of Pi. In 1977, the journal dedicated an entire issue to Margaret Atwood’s work, before she became internationally known. Poets such as Michael Ondaatje, Dionne Brand, Lorna Crozier and Patricia Young have frequently graced its pages.

“Publishing in The Malahat is a rite of passage for many writers, who feel that they have ‘arrived,’” says outgoing editor and poet John Barton, who has nurtured the journal for more than a decade. “Writers who have won our contests have gone on to win National Magazine Awards, the Journey Prize and to get book contracts.”

Established in 1967 by Robin Skelton and John Peter, The Malahat Review has showcased works by established writers, discovered promising new talent and presented perceptive critical comment on other pieces including essays on both literature and the visual arts.

Martel, whose short story “Mister Ali and the Barrelmaker” was published in 1988, says, “Without The Malahat Review, I wouldn’t be the writer I am now.” The journal has won more National Magazine Awards than any other literary journal in the country and has had six editors over its lifetime: Barton; Constance Rooke; Derk Wynand; Marlene Cookshaw; and Skelton and Peter.

The official anniversary edition launch party held last November paid tribute to the Victoria literary scene and artists—past, present and future—including with two previously unpublished poems from the late P.K. Page and creative nonfiction from painter Emily Carr.

UVic Libraries, as part of its imprint and publication series, is producing a limited-edition monograph publication to be launched Jan. 25, edited by Barton. The Malahat Review at Fifty: Canada’s Iconic Literary Magazine is richly illustrated with archival material from UVic Special Collections and University Archives. Contributing authors include broadcaster and UVic Chancellor Shelagh Rogers, as well as Martel, Phillip Kevin Paul, Nicholas Bradley, Wynand, Young, Eve Joseph, Jay Ruzesky, Eliza Robertson, Heather Dean, Jonathan Bengtson, Jan Zwicky and others. Info on the series

The Malahat Review at Fifty features extraordinary stories and memoirs from a range of celebrated contributors, recognizing the vital culture impact of The Malahat Review on the Canadian and international literary scene,” says Christine Walde, a UVic librarian and local poet who, as general editor of the series, led the commemorative project.

A new exhibition, Landmarks: The Art of The Malahat Review curated by Caroline Riedel of UVic Legacy Art Galleries, opens Jan. 25 in Legacy Maltwood (the gallery in the lower level of the UVic library). Running until May 13, it highlights the role of art in the journal and includes 200 selected cover images.

Canadian artists have dominated the visual identity of The Malahat Review and the synergy between art and literature is particularly evident in the cover art and essays of the journal’s first decade, which featured new work by internationally acclaimed artists such as Henry Moore, Andy Warhol, Mel Ramos and Joan Miró.

Read the campus article for more on the journal, monograph and exhibition.

A press kit containing cover art images and high-resolution photos of John Barton is available on Dropbox.

To arrange media interviews about The Malahat Review, contact John Barton or Stephanie Harrington; for interviews about The Malahat Review at Fifty: Canada’s Iconic Literary Magazine, contact Christine Walde or Lisa Abram; for interviews about Landmarks: The Art of The Malahat Review, contact Tara Sharpe.

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Media contacts

John Barton (Editor, The Malahat Review) at 250-721-8524 or malahat@uvic.ca (cell)

Christine Walde (General Edtor, UVic Libraries Publication Series) at 250-853-3613 or cwalde@uvic.ca

Stephanie Harrington (Humanities Communications) at 250-721-7241 or humscom@uvic.ca

Lisa Abram (Libraries Communications) at 250-853-3612 (cell) or lisaabram@uvic.ca

Tara Sharpe (University Communications + Marketing) at tksharpe@uvic.ca

In this story

Keywords: writing, literature, arts, publishing, English, The Malahat Review

People: John Barton, Robin Skelton, John Peter, Constance Rooke, Derk Wynand, Marlene Cookshaw

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