Interviews

Manahil Bandukwala

The Emerging Writer Award is open to anyone published in a given year in Room, who has not already had a book published. The award comes with a cash prize of $500. Room’s Tamara Jong spoke with our 2019 winner, Manahil Bandukwala, about inspiration for her poems “White marble atop hill” and “Maps”, her earliest writing memory and why she finds writing in notebooks so freeing.

Estlin Mcphee is a writer who grew up in the Bible Belt of B.C. in an Evangelical Christian household, and whose first queer role model was the fabulous and culturally disruptive George Michael. In this episode, Estlin discusses why George was so important to them growing up and why they will never get over their obsession with the Backstreet Boys. Estlin also discusses their genderqueer identity and why adolescence can be such a profound time for queer teens. This episode is a little pop culture, a little gay, a little spiritual, and a lot sweet!

Alicia Elliott

Room’s mentor-in-residence program is a brand new program designed to pair established mentors with emerging writers. This year’s mentor, Alicia Elliott, will select between eight and twelve students to mentor (free of charge to the student) over the year of the residency, including manuscript feedback and career advice and support.

Black and white picture of Syrus Marcus Ware

Syrus Marcus Ware is a Vanier Scholar, visual artist, activist, curator, educator, and the judge for Room’s Annual Cover Art Contest (which closes January 15, 2019). To learn more about Ware's diversity of works, we invited Toronto-based artist Ojo Agi to chat with Ware about the different hats he wears, his contribution as a Toronto documentarist, and how makes his work accessible to communities that don’t always have access to mainstream institutions.

Mica Lemiski drinking

Do you think New Years resolutions are cliched and pointless? Maybe they are, but still, what's the harm in trying to be THE BEST YOU? (That might be the cringiest thing I've ever written but let's drop the cynicism for two seconds because self improvement is actually a good thing.) In this episode, you'll hear all the ways I am trying to make myself a better, happier, more successful person in 2019, in addition to some tangents about mouse infestations, funereal singing, and as always, constipation. I also discuss my complicated feelings about going to the Sweat Dungeon (the gym) and regale you with a few musical outbursts you didn't ask for. Happy New Year.

Mica was going to do a fun, light-hearted, holiday-themed episode but that didn't really end up happening. A recent nighttime interaction with a male stranger prompts her to recount times she has trusted strangers ill-advisedly. Anecdotes include: the time she was felt-up in a movie theatre and the time she followed a man into a bathroom naively because he had a "secret" he wanted to "share." The episode concludes with an environmentalist rant and the most depressing Christmas song of all time, The Cat Carol.

Excerpt taken from Aminder Dhaliwal's Woman Word. Grandma: “The last generation was artificially born and all-female. They will never know men.” Granddaughter: “Grandma I found an artifact! Is this what men were like?” Asked the granddaughter while holding a picture of Paul Blart.

In celebration of all things art, Room collective member Rose Morris spoke with illustrator, writer, and animator, Aminder Dhaliwal. Originally from Brampton, Ontario, she currently lives in Los Angeles where she works as director of Disney TV Animation.

Sophie Buddle has been a performing stand-up comedy since she was only fifteen, and after nine years of grinding it out at open mics and comedy shows, she's now a writer for CBC's sketch comedy series, This Hour Has 22 Minutes. Sophie and Mica discuss how she landed the gig, what it's like to be in a writer's room in 2018, and why the Louis CK drama has affected her very personally. Also covered: are comedians REALLY the worst people to date? And what escapist TV shows does Sophie recommend we indulge in? All this and more in this sweet treat of an audio program!

We all want our brains to feel good, but sometimes they are stubborn and silly and uncooperative and BLEGH WHY. Writer and wonder-woman Rachel Jansen knows all about this, and she's hear to give us the scoop on OCD, anxiety, and why getting medicated was the right choice for her.

Mica discusses the recent passing of one of her all-time favourite patriarchs, Donald, aka her grandfather, aka "the charismatic misogynist," who is proof that you can love some wholeheartedly while still being somewhat critical of their behaviour. Mica also chats about the concept of grief, cliches in the face of death, drunken emotional outbursts, and looking for signs in the wake of devastation. Tangents include a teaser for Netflix's The Princess Swap (the perfect bereavement film!) and pretentious quotes from Gwyneth Paltrow, who should not be a role model to anyone ever. Also, love you, Gramps.

Kim Fu

Kim Fu is a Canadian-born writer, living in Seattle, Washington. Her most recent novel, The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore, was published in February 2018, and her previous novel, For Today I Am a Boy, won the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction and was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Fu’s debut poetry collection, How Festive the Ambulance, received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, and includes a 2017 National Magazine Awards Silver Medal winner and a Best Canadian Poetry 2016 selection. Fu, our commissioned author in the winter 2018 issue, spoke to us about writing, her featured story, “Liddy, First to Fly,” and her advice for emerging writers.

Molly Cross-Blanchard

Molly and Mica chat about the innate humour of farts, how Molly came to earn a rep as the "masturbation girl" in her poetry circle, and why pussy is probably the best word for vagina, so long as it's not weaponized against you.

Jonina Kirton

Jónína Kirton from Room magazine’s Turtle Island Responds talks with Lit Mag Love host Rachel Thompson about this online library of lived experience, offered in verse. This news related online poetry series was inspired by Rattle Magazine’s Poets Respond and the many conversations Jónína has had with others who have found themselves on the fringes.

Casey Plett

While Casey Plett was in Vancouver to present at Growing Room 2018, Room editor Arielle Spence spoke with her about working in publishing, winning a Lambda, co-editing the anthology Meanwhile, Elsewhere: Science Fiction and Fantasy by Transgender Writers (Topside Press, 2017), and her new novel, Little Fish.

Mica Lemiski

In this solo episode, Mica tells us how she makes the big bucks (spoiler alert: she does not make big bucks, but she does OK) through a combination of freelance writing, podcasting, and Christmas elf work. She also outlines in painstaking detail how she got to where she is now, running through her history with university a cappella, failed dance auditions, and shockingly bad applications to academic institutions. Mica also defends her so-called "fluff" articles for Vice.com, and tells us why masturbation stories have their place in the digital dialogue.

All-star guest and friend Mallory Tater is back to discuss the glory of matrimony and how she and poet-husband Curtis Leblanc pulled off the most spectacularly woke engagement and wedding probably ever on earth. We discuss and dissect traditions such as: elaborate surprise engagements, the father giving away the bride (like a dang mule for trade), the garter toss (gag me), white dresses, and the shocking and sexually violent significance of cutting the cake.

growing room 2018

When Room decided to launch a Short Forms Contest a few years ago, we wanted to create an avenue for writers who write flash fiction, non-fiction, and/or prose poems—and perhaps writers who experiment with blending and bending genres—to submit their work. (Contest entrants are not required to clarify which genre they are writing in.) The contest itself was kind of an experiment, but two contests and more than 450 submissions later, we are now running the third contest (deadline: November 1, 2018).

Celina K

“Don’t be such a snob about pop music!” could also be the title of this episode, which features Vancouver pop princess Celina K., also known as the musical act “future star.” Celina and I chat about why we love pop music and how pop stars such as Ariana Grande and Kesha can be beacons of light in difficult times.

Eden Robinson

Acclaimed author and wonderful human Eden Robinson is here to discuss what it's like to have your book turned into a movie! Eden chats with Mica about what a mind trip it is to visit a film set and hear actors saying lines you wrote, and why she ultimately prefers writing novels over screenplays. Eden also talks about why she chose her home town of Kitamaat Village as the setting for the book and movie version of Monkey Beach, and why pipelines are such a fraught issue in northern coastal towns. She also teases her upcoming trashy band council romance novel, and doesn't that sound great?

billy-ray belcourt

Room was excited to have the opportunity to sit down with Billy-Ray Belcourt to chat about obsessions, long form poetry, and struggle at the edge of language. Billy-Ray Belcourt appears at this year’s Vancouver Writer’s Festival in several events including The Poetry Bash on Friday, October 19th at Performance Works.

Pages

Currently on Newsstands

  • Room 41.4, Emergence
    Edited by Alissa McArthur

    In this issue:

    Tharuna Abbu, Farah Ali, Kristin Bjornerud, Michelle Chen, Nomi Chi, Morgan Christie, Kim Fu, Hannah Graff, nancy viva davis halifax, Ceilidh Isadore, Liz Kellebrew, Jo Lee, Kris Ly, Melanie Mah, Sara Mang, Katie McGarry, Estlin McPhee, Triin Paja, Loghan Paylor, Nagmeh Phelan, Oubah Osman, Lisa Rawn, Yvonne Robertson, Erika Thorkelson, Cara Waterfall

    .