Devour. Devour isn't simply ingesting. It's to consume ravishly. To completely and wholly take something in.
In June 2020, issue 43.2 Devour will be printed and out in the world, which feels extra special to me at this moment in time. This is the first issue I've edited since I became involved with Room magazine as a volunteer three years ago. It's the first issue I've edited as managing editor and the issue I started editing last June, when I also started planning the 2020 Growing Room Literary & Arts festival. The production of this issue and the planning of the festival took place simultaneously. For months, I was switching back and forth between editing beautiful writing to organizing panels and workshops, both tasks challenging me in different and formative ways. But I feel my festival brain, which was constantly thinking about what it means to share space and the different ways we tell stories, seeped into how this issue was inevitably curated.
As with the festival, this issue was put together in collaboration with other brilliant minds. But really, when is this kind of work ever done alone? Firstly, I had the invalubable help of my co-assistant editors Kayi Wong and Mica Lemiski, the reviews editor Leah Golob, and the rest of the Room collective who read submissions and proofread the issue. Secondly, this issue holds the first and second place pieces from our 2019 fiction, poetry, CNF, short forms, and cover art contests, which were chosen by amazing contest judges Lindsay Nixon, Catherine Hernandez, Pamela Mordecai, Terese Marie Mailhot, and Gwen Benaway. Engaging with the work of contributors who were selected by other brilliant folks made this issue feel truly collaborative, working in a way I ultimately prefer: with the help and valuable input from the community.
Our fiction contest's first and second place winners Megan Beadle and Carmina Ravanera have their protagonists, in vastly different ways, get devoured by institutions and abuse, and still look for hope despite it. Our poetry contest first place winner Callista Markotich allows readers to feel the threat of devouring: the ominous, ever-resent existence of something hanging overhead that could drop and take you in at any minute. Second place poetry winner Ashleigh Giffen shows us what happens when a poem devours its reader.
Our creative nonfiction first and second place winners Shaelyn Johnston and Kelly S. Thompson show us what happens when family, memories, and grief devour us. And short forms first place co-winners Roshni Riar and Kai Minosh Pyle devour love and ancestral food, and are, in turn, devoured by the crushing weight of time and place. Our cover art contest winner "The Trinity of Self Care" by Sonali Menezes is perhaps my favourite cover art of all time. This is what it looks like to devour ourselves. To turn inwards first.
Through the rest of the issue's pages, you'll find stories, artwork, and poetry that explore the various ways we consume and are consumed: from ways we over-consume the land and its resources, to how we are consumed by oppressive systems, by our own minds. This issue features an interview with photographer, writer, and activist, Samra Habib, and brand new poetry from literary aunty Marilyn Dumont. You'll also find our lovely BackRoom feature of Nic and Lala, the hosts of the podcast SEEN, and our RoomMate interview with new Room collective member lue boileau.
Reading these pages and the stories they hold took me in. Completely and wholly. Perhaps they will do the same for you.
Pre-order this issue before May 31st for a discounted price and get the issue on your doorstep in June!
Jessica Johns is the managing editor for Room magazine and the Editor of issue 43.2 Devour. She is a co-organizer of the Indigenous Brilliance reading series and a proud kombucha mother.