Claiming Space

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Room's 37.4 cover by Marika Echachis Swan (Tla-o-qui-aht Nation), 2014
Edited by 
Christina Cooke

When I joined the collective and signed on to serve as editor of this issue, I had no idea what I had gotten myself in to.

An un-themed issue can be such a strange beast: at once invigorating by its lack of restrictions on theme and direction, and also downright terrifying because of its lack of restrictions on theme and direction! It’s like being handed a box of bricks that’s the size of a small city then being told, “Go build something. In no more than a few months. Oh, and preferably some-thing awesome.”

What emerged in the months that followed, however, shaped up to be an intriguing collection of works that pushes the boundaries of what Room represents in ways I didn’t expect. Marika Echachis Swan’s (Tla-o-qui-aht Nation) cover image The Side Dancer’s Gift celebrates the necessity and strength of female roles in Tla-o-qui-aht potlatches; Hiromi Goto’s featured story “Covalent Bond” explores the relationship between a first generation Canadian-born daughter and her immigrant Japanese mother, with a dark twist; in my interview with Cecily Nicholson, she discusses the many social and political threads that flow through her every day, and how they keep her looped in to her poetry and the communities she holds herself responsible to.

Unifying all these disparate calls is an unwavering insistence on privileging narratives that lie outside of what’s seen as “conventional.” The precise definition of what’s “in” and what’s not can be easily (and lengthily) deconstructed then debated, but what these works achieve is a re-centring of literary and artistic esteem onto experiences that don’t fit what’s taken as the status quo. Don’t believe me? Read on and see for yourself. Sweep out the overabun-dance of what you already know for something different, something else. Through these stories, poems, and pieces of visual art, allow yourself to make a little Room for something more (chuckle chuckle; couldn’t resist).

About the Contributors 

Christina Cooke is a member of the Growing Room Collective. Her writing features queer female perspectives from the Jamaican diaspora attempting to find solace, to find community, to find home. Her writing has appeared in journals in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, as well as in her chapbook l’appel du vide (Porkbelly Press, 2014).

Hiromi Goto is an award-winning novelist. She is the author of Chorus of Mushrooms (1994), The Kappa Child (2001), The Water of Possibility (2001), Half World (2009), and Darkest Light (2011). She has also published essays, a collection of short stories, Hopeful Monsters (2004), and co-written a book of poetry, Wait Until Late Afternoon (2009). Hiromi is a writing instructor, editor, and mother of two (big) children. She has served in numerous writer-in-residencies and currently lives in B.C.

Judith Graham works as a visual artist and writer, supplementing her income and drawing inspiration from her work as a gardener. Her creative work also draws on her experiences as a geologist, a college biology instructor, an informal student of the arts, and briefly as a Buddhist nun. She resides in Millbrook, Ontario.

Amy Holwerda’s work has been noted in The Best American Essays (2013) and has been published in Hobart, The Collagist, Quick Fiction, Flash: The International Short-Short Story Magazine, and Sycamore Review, among others. She currently lives in Berlin, Germany with her husband and their newborn daughter.

Clara Kumagai is a playwright and author of fiction and children’s writing. She has been published in Icarus Magazine, Irish Theatre Magazine, and Inis Magazine, and is Executive Editor, Promotions at PRISM international. Formerly of Ireland, Clara now lives in Vancouver, where she is completing a Creative Writing MFA at UBC.

In this issue

Rose-Anne Chabot, Christina Cooke, Emily Davidson, Lane Falcon, Gail Goepfert, Hiromi Goto, Judith Graham, Gwen Haevens, Kiran Hargrave, Amy Holwerda, Taryn Hubbard, Mahak Jain, Chelene Knight, Jen Knox, Katherine Koller, Clara Kumagai, Amanda Lynn, Claire Matthews, Kim McCullough, Cara-lyn Morgan, Natalie Morrill, Chelsea O’Byrne, Kamila Rina, Jessica Robinson, Jessica Rose, Chelsea Rushton, Sommer Schafer, Wild Soft, Carol Harvey Steski, Pip Strickland, Marika Echachis Swan (Tla-o-qui-aht Nation), Pamela Tarlow-Calder, P.C. Vandall, Willow Verkerk


Cover of Room's 37.4 issue by Marika Echachis Swan (Tla-o-qui-aht Nation) Judith Graham Art

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