Interviews

A black and white photo of Canisia looking at the camera, wearing round studs on her ears, with a slight smile.

In celebration of our 2020 poetry contest, Room editorial board member, Hope Lauterbach, had the opportunity to ask Lubrin a few questions about her book-length poem, The Dyzgraphxst, writing craft, and what she looks for in a poem.

Image is a drawing of an Indigenous femme's side profile and two antlers around her head

We are so excited to announce our upcoming special “Growing Room” issue of Room magazine, which will be an issue dedicated entirely to the writers and artists intended to feature at the 2020 Growing Room Literary & Arts Festival. This issue will be an homage to the festival as we intended it to be: a place to come together and celebrate one another as writers, artists, and creatives. Here is an interview between the issue’s editors, Jessica Johns, Selina Boan, and Mica Lemiski.

Emily posed next to a painting on the ground

We need books now, more than ever. Reading, by nature, is a solitary activity, but sharing stories is a shared tradition. Since book delivery was declared an essential service, local bookstores have continued to make sure that the public has access to books. I got a chance to speak with Emily Dundas Oke, the media manager and curator at Massy Books, about the store, community and favourite reads. Massy Books has been offering free local book delivery for orders placed on their online store since mid-March when their storefront closed.

Jenny's photo on the left next to book cover on the right

Jenny Heijun Wills was born in Seoul, South Korea and was adopted and raised in a white family in Southern-Ontario, Canada. In 2008, she reunited with her family in Asia.

Jenny has lived, studied, and worked in Toronto, Montreal, Boston, and Seoul. Her debut memoir, Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related., published in 2019 with McClelland & Stewart, won the 2019 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction and is shortlisted in three categories for the 2020 Manitoba Book Awards. She teaches at the University of Winnipeg.

She is the commissioned author for the upcoming Room issue 43.4, edited by Geffen Semach.

On the left is Beauty in a Box, Dr. Thompson's book. And to the right is Dr. Cheryl THompson standing next to a full length glass window smiling, and with her arms crossed.

Dr. Cheryl Thompson is a writer, author, and academic. She is an Assistant Professor at Ryerson University in the School of Creative Industries. Her book, Beauty in a Box: Detangling the Roots of Canada’s Black Beauty Culture, was published with Wilfrid Laurier Press in 2019. Her next book, Uncle: Race, Nostalgia, and the Politics of Loyalty, will be published in 2020 with Coach House Books.

Geffen sitting on a couch reading a book

Molly Cross-Blanchard sits down with Room editor of 43.4 Geffen Semach to chat about the issue, the world of publishing, and what Geffen has been reading lately.

Profile view of Whitney French in front of green background

We are thrilled to announce Whitney French as Room’s Mentor-in-Residence!

Room’s mentor-in-residence program is a brand new program designed to pair established mentors with emerging writers. This year’s mentor, Whitney French, will mentor about eight students (free of charge to the student) over the year of the residency, including manuscript feedback and career advice and support. Publisher, Nav Nagra, will act as the coordinator of this program, and as the mentor’s assistant and mentor-in-training.

Naava at a reading on the left, novel cover on the right

Naava Smolash is a white settler from a working class immigrant family. Her writing appears in Studies in Canadian Literature, West Coast Line, LitHub, Everyday Feminism, Briarpatch, and the University of Toronto Quarterly. Her essay "The Opposite of Rape Culture is Nurturance Culture" went viral in February 2016 and grew into a book, Turn This World Inside Out, published by AK Press in 2019. She was a member of the No One is Illegal-Vancouver collective from 2005-2009, and the Media Democracy Day-Vancouver collective from 2008-2010. Originally from Montreal, she lives in Coast Salish Territories, also known as Vancouver, British Columbia, where she teaches in the English department at Douglas College. She holds a PhD in English Literature from SFU, and is a 2018 graduate of The Writer’s Studio.

Collage of the six interview and interviees. Top row: Isabella, Golsa, Kathy. Bottom row: Neko, Raquel, and Elliot

To celebrate the upcoming Growing Room Festival 2020, we are chatting with a few festival authors to learn more about them and their work until the festival rolls around. Isabella Wang chats with some of the talented young writers who will be performing at this year's annual youth reading on March 9. She asks them about their experiences and backgrounds with writing, the communities they're a part of, and what they are most looking forward to.

Picture of Liz on the left and on the right is the cover of her book: Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent

In the following interview, Manahil Bandukwala chats with poet and fellow festival author, Liz Howard, whose debut poetry collection, Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent won the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2016. The author spoke about contamination and poisoning in northern Ontario, developing an ecological consciousness, and being a citizen beyond citizenship.

Toronto Trailblazers Cover

Publishing’s most avowed history is usually an American one with an all-male cast, peopled by scions like Scribner and Knopf who ruled from corporate thrones. But in an engrossing new book, Toronto Trailblazers: Women in Canadian Publishing (UTP), noted scholar, writer, and book historian Ruth Panofsky offers a lively, impeccably researched, and original history from below of Canada’s publishing industry through the lives of the largely invisible female workforce who shaped it. Lauren Kirshner interviewed Ruth Panofsky about Toronto Trailblazers and the historic role of women in Canada’s publishing industry.

Picture of Jillian on the left with artful makeup on her face and decolletage. She's wearing a flower crown made up of orange, red, and white flowers. She's looking down. To the left is the cover of her poetry collection.

Next up, Chimedum Ohaegbu chats with Jillian Christmas, who is—in addition to being a festival author—one of the programming committee members of Growing Room 2020 and the host and curator of the opening night event at Fox Cabaret. The writer and artist is a force in the spoken word/slam poetry community as a performer, facilitator, anti-oppression advocate, and former Artistic Director of the Vancouver Verses Festival of Words. Read what Jillian has to say about being afraid of the internet, her highly anticipation book of poetry coming out, and page vs performance poetry.

Cover of Fresh Pack of Smokes next to a picture of Cassandra, who's standing and smiling at the camera.

Cassandra Blanchard’s debut poetry collection, Fresh Pack of Smokes, is an immersive, intimate account of drug addiction, love, sex work, and survival on the streets of Vancouver. These are prose poems that shake with urgency, deftly stacking vivid imagery which twists to the emotional core of the book. Her work is unflinching, tender, and fierce. In the following interview, Selina Boan speaks to Cassandra Blanchard about her “love” poems, the biggest challenge in publishing her debut poetry collection, and the community she found because of it.

Picture of Kai Cheng Thom standing next to a window and looking into the camera, next to the cover for I Hope We Choose Love

Kai Cheng Thom’s latest book, I Hope We Choose Love: A Trans Girl’s Notes From the End of the World (Arsenal Pulp, 2019), is an expansive and intimate collection of essays and poetry on transformative justice and radical love, both in and beyond queer activist communities. Read what the multi-genre writer thinks about choosing love, writing in different genres, and the ideal secret society.

This episode is an audio highlight reel, featuring snippets from some of the best convos had on the show—like, ever! We've got insight from: Vivek Shraya, Anne T. Donahue, Lisa Taddeo, Alexandra Bischoff, Soraya Chemaly, Morgan Brayton, Jen Sookfong Lee, Stacey May Fowles, Mozhdah Jamalzadah, Anna Mehler Paperny, Megan Jones, and Jocelyn Tennant.

Cover of "Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space" next to a picture of Amanda Leduc, who's smiling and looking into the camera, wearing a green top.

In this interview, Manahil Bandukwala talks to Amanda Leduc ahead of her appearance at Growing Room 2020. Read what Leduc has to say about “Disney-fying” fairy tales, writing non-fiction, and nurturing community.

Head shot of Rebecca Fisseha (looking into the camera and in front of a white background), next to the cover of her book, Daughters of Silence

Our 2020 Fiction Contest judge and Growing Room Festival author, Rebecca Fisseha, is the author of Daughters of Silence (Goose Lane Editions), which was listed among the most anticipated fiction titles of Fall 2019 by CBC Books and 49th Shelf, and one of Quill & Quire’s breakout debut novels of 2019. Room editorial board member, Lue Boileau, took the opportunity to chat with our fiction judge and festival author about why she chose to write Daughter of Silence before any other book, writing difficult truths, and the faith she has developed for her writing process.

Cover of 26 Knots on the left, and the author's on the right with her looking into the camera with her chin resting on her hands

Room editorial board member Tamara Jong spoke to Bindu Suresh about her novel 26 Knots and getting that first line just right, early writing influences, and which actors she'd like to see play her characters if her book became a movie.

Pages

Currently on Newsstands

  • Devour cover: Pink background with 3 arms. One each lighting a candle, holding a vibrator, holding a tea bag over a cup
    Room 43.2, Devour
    Edited by Jessica Johns

    In this issue:

    Manahil Bandukwala, Dessa Bayrock, Megan Beadle, Brandi Bird, lue boileau, Rachel Burlock, Justina Chong, Mollie Cronin, Marilyn Dumont, Edzi'u, Ashleigh Giffen, katia hernandez velasco, erica hiroko, Jessica Johns, Shaelyn Johnston, Yume Kitasei, Mica Lemiski, Jessie Loyer, Annick MacAskill, Callista Markotich, Sonali Menezes, Kai Minosh Pyle, Natasha Ramoutar, Carmina Ravanera, Rohsni Riar, Jessica Rose, Rowan Siah, Eli Tareq El Bechelany-Lynch, Kelly S. Thompson, Arielle Twist, Phoebe Wang, Yu-Sen Zhou

    .