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Windsor Review’s Rich History Revealed

By: Julienne Rousseau

30 News Reporter

There is something big going on in Windsor and most people don’t know about it, but word is spreading, and people are starting to notice. For some reason, this city draws people to it from across the globe. Not just ordinary people, great people. From his office on the third floor of Chrysler Hall North, Eugene McNamara created a creative writing department and brought the Windsor Review to life, forever changing the culture of the literary arts in Windsor. Today we celebrate over 50 years of the Windsor Review, but a review of the journal’s history, reveals not just the cultural impact it’s had on the city but reflects on the importance of the journal’s quality results and upcoming relaunch.

Andre Narbonne, dedicated years to this project, editing and perfecting the beautiful retrospective issue of the Windsor Review which celebrates the history of the journal, while the new website looks to the future and to the full relaunch of the journal next fall. Narbonne, a Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Windsor, was “astonished by the quality of the writing” he saw in the Review as a young writer, and through this journey, he was fascinated by McNamara’s ability to draw quality writers from across North America to Windsor. Originally published in 1965 and named the University of Windsor Journal, the Windsor Review was sold for $1.25 an issue and contained no literature and no reviews. What it did contain was journals, and it was these essays that first captured Narbonne’s attention. McNamara found some good help and the journal began to flourish. He surrounded himself with award-winning authors like Joyce Carol Oats, Alistar MacLeod, and John Ditsky, each adding to the overall quality of the journal, the English department, and the writing community here in Windsor.

Best selling local author and Professor of English at the University of Windsor, Marty Gervais first picked up a copy of the Windsor Review in a used bookstore in Toronto and decided then and there to make his way to Windsor to meet Eugene McNamara. “The Windsor Review brought me to Windsor.” And according to Gervais, the scene in Windsor was “very very lively and very very rich, and Eugene was at the center of it.” The Windsor Review was something big not just to its readers, but to the writing community which was developing, and continues to develop here in Windsor.

Today the traditions and ideas that McNamara brought with him to Windsor continue to enrich the lives of those living in the community and those coming here from afar. From his office on the third floor of Chrysler Hall North, Gervais has continued McNamara’s legacy and shared this passionate culture of art literature, forming the new center of a rich and lively scene, and drawing quality writers to Windsor. Around the corner, Andre Narbonne writes from his office on the third floor, just down the hall from Gervis, his door open, waiting for the torch to silently pass down the line. Between those doors, hundreds of students pass each year, and new talent is discovered and published inside the Windsor Review and through the editing and publishing practicum at the University.

Word is spreading. It’s not just the culture of literary arts that is spreading, but the power and structure of the arts itself are growing. University of Windsor grads and young artists like Samantha Badaoa and Marissa Reaume are thriving in Windsor and taking creative writing to new and exciting places. Badaoa stole the show at this year’s Poetry at the Manor, in front of an audience of over two-hundred people, with her slam style spoken word art. And Thursday night at Biblioasis bookstore, Reaume had the room rumbling from her performance of a section of two of her poems recently published by the Windsor Review. Reaume’s hilarious poems show the world a detailed, scientific, second by second, analysis of what it’s like being a pet dog, and then, a pet cat. These artists’ success is proof that what started on the third floor in Chrysler Hall North has spread through Windsor and beyond.

It was pretty obvious Thursday night at Biblioasis. Although there was barely room to stretch a leg, the audience listened quietly as the history of the Windsor Review revealed itself. You could hear the door open, time after time, as more people gathered to get a glimpse. The literary culture Eugene McNamara encouraged, continues to grow as part of the literary arts scene in Windsor. The relaunch of the Windsor Review this fall, and the new website look forward to the future of quality writing and to artists from Canada and across the world. The Windsor Review is calling.

Submissions open to all writers, starting Jan 2020.

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