Ottawa Citizen

The Walrus


The Big Read: Author Stephen Henighan travels to Central America, in particular Nicaragua, where he finds a vibrant poetry scene well-supported by ‘working-class single mothers, nuns and priests, middle-aged men in Tshirts and baseball caps, and avid schoolchil­dren hanging on every poetic line.’ Henighan examines the history and lineage of poetry in this area, and nicely describes a world as foreign as any to most Canadians. Inside: In a clever article titled ‘Notwithsta­nding,’ Michael Healey attends a McGill University on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, held in conjunctio­n with its 25th anniversar­y, and discovers how such an imperfect and chaotic document manages to work in this country (unless, he points out, you’re poor or a First Nations member). Plus: Alex Shoumatoff travels to such Russian villages as Lipki, Yasnaya Polyana and Shchekino, where declining birthrates, a failing healthcare system and rising HIV rates are wiping out rural life, and wonders if Russia can survive its new free-market economy and become another great empire.

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