Deborah Ellis

Deborah Ellis
Coming to Thunder Bay

Sunday, July 9, 2017

A Great Literary Review Closes

Margrith Schraner, Associate Editor and Ernest Hekkanen, Editor-in-Chief.

I am always happy when a literary magazine accepts one of my stories. Unfortunately, this acceptance from The New Orphic Review came with bitter news.

Earnest Hekkanen, the editor-in-chief, said he was happy to publish my story “Generosity.” And he added, “I found your story very affecting. I was moved by it.” But then I read on. “Your story will appear in September, 2017, our final issue.”


I emailed back. Say it isn’t so! The New Orphic Review is one of the peppiest, most creative and edgiest publications in the world of Canadian Literary Magazines and Hekkanen is the bluntest, sharpest, most iconoclastic of publishers.

Almost every year, for the past five years, The New Orphic Review published one of my stories.  I was thrilled in 2011 when the magazine took Prisoners of War, a story about the Neys POW camp on Lake Superior.

In 2012, the magazine published Cousin Bloomers, a tale of love between cousins, and the same year Subterranean Homesick Blues, about the death of a Weatherman responsible for the Greenwich Village bombing.
2013, Hekkanen took The Yegg Boy, which was also published in The Antigonish Review and recommended by it for the Journey Prize.

In 2014 the magazine published The Monument, a slightly fanciful tale of Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King’s trip to the Lakehead with the King and Queen on their 1939 cross-Canada Royal Tour.

In 2016, he accepted The Kaministiquia Stories.
In the Spring 2017 issue, Ernest Hekkanen writes, “I've decided that the upcoming fall 2017 issue will be the final issue. I've published the NOR for 20 years, and while it has been interesting and we've donated a lot of time and money to the project, I find I'm getting a bit weary, at the age of 70.”

Ernest Hekkanen and his partner Margrith Schraner started the journal in 1998 when they were living in Vancouver. Later, they moved to Nelson, BC. He writes, “I enjoy a great range of writing, some of it quite experimental.” His own stories and forty-seven books follow this pattern.
Explaining the name New Orphic Review and, at the same time, giving some good advice to writers, Hekkanen says, “On the title page of every New Orphic Review is a small icon identified as Pythagoras. Back in the annals of time, Pythagoras was a prominent figure in the Orphic Tradition…one of the traditions revolved around theory… which meant something closer to ‘passionate sympathetic contemplation,’ a practice that can be quite useful for writers who are trying to get inside a character’s heart and mind. The idea was to enter into one’s subject and thereby know its essence. It could be compared to a form of meditation…

“Back in the mid-1900s, I decided to adopt the word “Orphic” for our publishing house and literary review. I did it out of a sense of playfulness, and because it suggested that we were part of a lineage”

The twenty-year span included triumphs and disasters. A 2014 a Journey Prize award was followed by a cyber attack in 2016. Hekkanen refused to pay the ransom and lost all his files. The NOR had to start over with new computers but after a short delay, the next issue was released.

He adds, “We have published an amazing number of talented writers who have since gone on to make careers for themselves in the literary world. It will be with some sadness that we step back from publishing…Hang on for the last issue of The New Orphic Review which will be published late in 2017.”

 I am honoured that my story, “Generosity” will be part of this last issue. Joan M. Baril

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