An Interview with Nav Nagra, Editor of Issue 40.3 "Migration"

Interview by 
Kayi Wong
nav nagra room editorial board

Nav Nagra, who has been an editorial board member and the advertising coordinator at Room since 2014, will be editing an upcoming issue of the magazine on migration. Nav has written poetry and reviews for Project Space, Sad MagazineLemon HoundRoom, and the New Vancouver Poets Folio. Kayi Wong spoke to Nav about why she chose migration as a theme, and how reading submissions have changed the way she reads and writes.

Submit your original poetry, short story, essays, and art to the migration issue before Jan 31st, 2017.

KW: This is the first issue that you're editing for Room. Why migration? What does migration mean to you?

NN: This is indeed! I selected migration for its ability to mean different things to so many different people. Migration can be the moving of place to place but it can also be expressed in the changing self from our cells to our entire being. For me, migration is incredibly fascinating. How can a simple word translate to so many different things. Also, the act of migration is so finite. It’s leaving something behind in order to move to somewhere new and presumably where you will stay. Of course, this can mean anything from the literal to the metaphoric. Personally, migration is not only the journey my parents made (separately) to Canada but it also signifies the migration of my person throughout the years. I’ve migrated from person to person to become who I am today.

KW: Was there any literature you've read that compelled you to explore this subject matter further through an entire issue of Room?

NNMoving Forward Sideways Like A Crab by Shani Mootoo was the catalyst for me considering migration as more than moving from land to land. The main character in that story moves not only from place to place in search of their true self but also within the self to find the person they have always been and have always wanted to be.

KW: Could you tell me about the author(s) that are involved with the migration issue so far?

NN: We are most fortunate to have Ann Y. K. Choi as our interview. I was first introduced to her work by 40.3 shadow, Arielle Spence, who was already a fan of her work. As I learned more about Choi as a writer, I realized her exploration of family, culture and place in Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety made her perfect for the migration issue.

KW: You've been an editorial board member at Room and reading Room submissions close to two years now. How have that changed the way to write or read?

NN: I think it’s been two years now. Wow, it really doesn’t feel like it’s been nearly that long. Reading submissions for Room has entirely changed the way I write. I used to write a piece and never edit it or I would write a piece and edit it until it was no longer anything. Reading for Room has taught me the fine balance of editing and writing. How the two are not mutually exclusive but how one does not necessarily dictate the other.

KW: You're a poetry fiend; do you have a "poetry pet peeve"?

NN: Haha! I guess I am kind of a poetry fiend. My poetry pet peeve is sort of a funny one: rhyming in poetry. I know that sounds crazy but I just can’t stand it and although I know there have been many a great poem writing in rhyming verse and poetry was basically founded on the practice of rhyming but I just don’t care for it in modern poetry or it has to be absolutely breath-taking, fall-out-of-your-seat good poetry in order for me to make an exception haha.

KW: On that note, do you have any advice for writers submitting to your issue or to lit mags in general?

NN: The advice I’d give for submitting to my issue is to explore migration at an intimate level and then step back and see what you have. I would love to see pieces that really showcase how complex of a concept migration is. For lit mags in general, I would say send in your best work and something that makes you proud. Pay attention to what the editor is looking for but most importantly stay true to who you are as a writer.

KW: Please tell us about the writing you've been working on!

NN: I am working on a collection of poetry as well as what I hope will one day be a novel. I just wrote the first 1000 words of my novel and I had a fluttering of “I can’t believe this is happening”; it was a great feeling.

“It's Canadian, feminist, and one of my favourite things ever.”

—bucketofrhymes, "29 Amazing Literary Magazines You Need To Be Reading", Buzzfeed Books

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