Welcome to Dream Catcher 23 dedicated to Canadian writing. Thanks to poets Chris Pannell and James Deahl for contacting publishers and encouraging their authors to submit. We received submissions from over a hundred writers: from the Pacific through the Rockies, across the Prairies to the Maritime provinces, from inner cities to the land's more severe environments.
Canadian writing is as diverse as that of any country, but perhaps preoccupations emerge that are less likely from British contributors. I left Canada thirty six years ago and still possess a 'feeling' for the vastness of the second largest country in the world. Canada's size may have created an illusion of endless real estate and abundance but the land was abused; now many Canadians want to value their natural wealth, to be intimately aware even if the canvas is big. Kate Marshall Flaherty's poem V epitomises the theme that the northern expanses remain a source of restoration and that journeying into its untamed and extreme vistas is curative. Wilderness can also be dangerous and challenging. In James Deahl's North of the Great Lakes the author declares 'only love can save this land'. In her poem, Geography Donna Langevin reveals through a long train journey, her love of her huge Atlantic to Pacific land with a mixture of discovery and tenderness.
Mis-use has extended to inhabitants. I, with many from white cultures, grew up unaware that nations had existed in my homeland long before European settlers arrived. The first nations with their beliefs and traditions were suppressed. This legacy concerns authors in various ways; some write about the political implications of racism. Kate Rogers shows in The Public Apology how nothing can make up for the damage civilised society has afflicted on native populations. What can non-indigenous Canadians offer? The poem concludes: 'they pay with guilt?/ the only offering they can make'. In Susan Ioannou's Life Cycle the persona, finding land-claim-politics too painful, focuses on family relations: 'A child: I saw my elders as trees.', the term 'elders' sending us on different cultural paths than those of the writers already cited.
Cities are well represented. Regardless of ethnic background, every writer can identify with that need to be free from historical ties to write fresh, interesting and beautiful words to do justice to their own vision. The city dweller must find his pleasures, as in Steven Bock's story Bonsai Garden, in a crowded dystopia. Canada's relationship with the rest of the world inspires other contributors: S M Steele's May Day reminds us that Canadian soldiers are fighting and dying in Afghanistan. The longing for nature's healing wonder frequently recurs throughout as in August where Katherine Lawrence coins the phrase 'the landscape lyrical' to depict the North.
The cover image, gives a hint of the reality that the Canadian population is dwarfed by Canada's enormous terrain and the power of its natural heritage. This perspective is true of us all on a small planet engulfed by an infinite universe. Canadians perhaps more sensitively than most recognise this and have endured and cherished this fact with the result that a distinctive literary stream has evolved which I hope we have given you a glimpse of in Dream Catcher 23. To read some extracts from the Canadian issue please click here