The Northern Review #46, published by Yukon College

This edition was edited by Maureen Long, Eric Heyne, Andrew Richardson and Jamella Hagan.

On its website, the Northern Review, which is published by the School of Liberal Arts at the Yukon College, describes itself as “a multidisciplinary journal exploring human experience in the Circumpolar North.”

Generally speaking, its contents are somewhat academic in nature and devoted almost entirely to northern issues, whether social or historical in nature. There are also book reviews touching on northern matters.

“Since 1988, we have published articles covering a broad range of human issues and topics in the social sciences, humanities, health, law, and the arts.”

The last word in that self-description gives the journal license to wander off into the arts from time to time. Volume 46 does just that, offering a selection of non-fiction, short stories, poems and book reviews.

The journal does not restrict itself to Canada and describes the contents as being “Poetry, Fiction & Creative Non-Fiction from the Yukon, Alaska, Northwest Territories, and Norway.”

This is the third time the journal has produced a literary issue, the first two, according to co-editor Maureen Long, having come out in 1993 and 2009. That it only took half the time to get from the second volume to this third one is taken to be indicative of an increase in the amount of literary publishing in Alaska and the Yukon.

The book breaks down into four sections:

Non-Fiction (pp. 9 – 66) features four pieces: Nancy Lord’s thoughts on becoming a writer; Lulla S. Johns’ memoir about trying to avoid going to residential school; five short stories told by Gwich’in elders; and a meditation by Katie Zdybel on the seasons of northern light.

Fiction (pp. 67– 166) Six short stories offer a peek into different kinds of relationships. One is about strangers coping in a land that is not their home. Another concerns the evils of small-town gossip. A third is rather apocalyptic. The fourth and fifth depict damaged family relationships and their pain. The last concludes with an encounter between a truck and an elk, reminding me of my own “affair” with a moose.

Poetry (pp. 167 – 210) is comprised of 33 poems, way too many items for me to attempt a summary of their contents, though they are predominantly about the land and its creatures. There were four that I particularly enjoyed: “The Black Bird Gang” by Gillian McKee, “Waiting” by Nicole Bauberger and Jerome Stueart’s two poems inspired by his time as a Whitehorse trolley conductor.

Book Reviews (pp. 211 – 258) is more traditional fare for the journal, this edition covering reviews of short-story collections, a mystery, a biography, some memoirs, a pictorial social history of highway lodges, a young adult novel, several poetry collections, and a couple of history books. There are 22 items altogether, several of which I have written about here and in the Star.

The Northern Review can be purchased from the Yukon College bookstore or viewed online and downloaded as individual PDF files from “journals.sfu.ca/nr/index.php/nr/issue/view/46”.