The theme of this issue of Room is fluency—that elusive quality so many of us would like to have or to have more of. Ease. Eloquence. The effortlessness and inevitability of the thought bubbles rising to the surface of our gorgeous cover by Vancouver artist Janice Wong.
Fluency is often associated with a facility for language. The creative nonfiction pieces of Marion Agnew and Madeleine Harlamovs, and the poetry of Lynda Monahan, take language as their themes, each of them discussing "communicating without a shared spoken language," as Agnew puts it. She also says, "To communicate with another person, in any language, I must open myself to be touched. I must stretch myself to understand." This opening and stretching is the focus of Linda McCullough Moore's "Four Kinds of People," the poems of Katherine Leyton, Alicia Hendley, and Kyeren Regehr, and of Janet Barkhouse's story "Little Billy."
"Little Billy" is also about relationships. And of course, no matter what the editors of Room might choose as the cover theme of any issue, the work we select is always about the relationships women find themselves in, whether relationships to themselves, or to the other people in their lives. Sharron Arksey's story "Summer of Their Contentment" celebrates the ease of communication between a long and happily married couple, as does the poetry of E.A. Carpentier, and in "Tarot of St. Petersburg," Hollay Ghadery presents a married couple nearing the end of their life together.
Two of the poets in this issue, Lucile Barker and Elaine Jackson, give us portraits of men who are not what they appear to be. And fittingly for this fall issue, poets Susan J. Atkinson and Fiona Tinwei Lam show us two women in autumn, whether metaphorical or actual.
Throughout these pages, Vancouver artist Kelly Haydon's contemplative little figure stands firm as the fluid world changes around her.
Creating a frame for this issue are two pieces about the art/act of writing—creative nonfiction by Linda Svendsen, and fiction by Nola Poirier. Both these pieces push the boundaries of what writing is about. Svendsen hangs a memoir around a skeleton of instructions on how to write in "New York, 1978: Writing Lesson." Poirier"s "The Honest Woodchopper" pushes the boundaries in a different direction. Early on in the story comes a point where Poirier grips you and doesn't let go until the last possible moment.
And finally, we are delighted to present new poetry by Karen Solie, whose most recent collection, Pigeon, won the Griffin Poetry Prize, the Pat Lowther Award, and the Trillium Book Award for Poetry. And our interview is with Jane Urquhart in which she talks to Kimberley Alcock about her most recent book, Sanctuary Line. If you haven't read these two books yet, get out there and buy them. They're unforgettable.
Marion Agnew's fiction has appeared in Prairie Fire and in the eleventh Ten Stories High anthology, and she has received support from the Ontario Arts Council. "All I Can Say" was shortlisted for the 2009 CBC Literary Awards. She lives and writes near Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Janet Barkhouse lives in rural Nova Scotia, where she writes poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction. Recent work includes a book for young readers, Sable Island—Imagine! (Curriculum Plus, 2010), and poems selected for anthologies by Lorri Neilsen Glenn, and Sheree Fitch. CV2, Leaf Press, and the CBC have published her work.
Elaine Jackson is a freelance writer, editor, yoga teacher, and work-in-progress. She lives north of Mount Albert, Ontario—pretty much in the middle of a swamp. She is in the beginning stages of a book on feminism and yoga.
Janice Wong received her BFA from the Alberta College of Art and Design and is the recipient of numerous awards, including federal and provincial project and travel grants. Janice's work is exhibited and collected in Canada, Europe, Asia, and the United States. Born in Saskatchewan, she has resided in Vancouver since 1986.