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In one form or another, the literary journal Matrix has survived 22 years, and judging from Number 50, now at better newsstands and bookstores, it's healthier than ever.

The latest Matrix boasts 80 pages of high-quality paper with a wide variety of material. There are the staples of the genre: prose fiction (an excellent story set in the Townships by Peter Behrens, who now writes scripts in Hollywood), poetry (a challenging sample of the new Vancouver poets), theory (an interview with University of Sherbrooke poet D.G. Jones), and essays about literary subjects by Patrick Friesen, Nino Ricci and Carmine Starnino.

But there's also material that comes close to mainstream magazine fare, including a first-person piece by poet-with-a-real-job Lesley Battler about being transferred by CP to Calgary, a splendid photo essay on the Innu by Peter Sibbald, and, for diversion, some illustrated ads for personal hygiene products culled from turn-of-the-century newspapers.

Rob Allen shares the editorial process with fellow Creative Writing professor Terry Byrnes; Allen chooses most of the fiction and poetry, and Byrnes most of the non-fiction. They solicit their material; the unsolicited work that comes in is vetted by a small editorial board of graduate students.

While many literary journals are put together on love and a shoestring, Matrix has a sleek, well-heeled look, thanks to Marc Elias, who has been the magazine's designer since it came to Concordia's English Department five years ago.

Financing comes from three levels of government. The University provided $1,000 in seed money, and now supplies office space and use of facilities. Allen reports that about 1,000 copies of each issue are sold, slightly more than half through subscriptions. The cost per issue is $6.

- BB

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