Welcome to Room’s Journey issue. This is a very special issue for us—indeed the first of four very special issues, all celebrating Room’s thirty-fifth volume of quality writing and art by women.
When we turned thirty, we gave ourselves a facelift, rebranding ourselves from Room of One’s Own to Room. In the intervening five years, we’ve moved firmly into the digital era to streamline several of our processes, including moving 99% of our manuscript submissions and our contest entries to an electronic process, expanding the number of collective members who live outside of Greater Vancouver, and dabbling our toes into the digital stream with Twitter, Facebook, and our increasingly successful electronic newsletter. In short, we’re thriving, and proud of ourselves. All of these achievements are the result of some spectacularly talented Roomies—what else would you expect us to call our collective members—and I’ve chosen to focus on our Roomies in place of our regular RoomMate and BackRoom sections. Just this once, Dear Reader, instead of looking at you, we’ll be looking at us.
Other changes to this issue include the absence of our 2011 contest winners. Look for them in issue 35.2, together with new writing by Genni Gunn and an interview with Madeleine Thien. In 35.3, look for more twists on our anniversary celebrations, and we’re closing the volume with an interview with one of the very early members of the collective, in an issue with a very fitting theme—Labour of Love.
In this issue—from our beautiful blue cover by Landon Mackenzie to our closing pages—we explore Journey. Evelyn Lau, Vancouver’s current Poet Laureate, has three poems on personal change, and three poems on travel. The rest of the issue follows Evelyn’s lead, weaving back and forth between these two themes, between the public journeys of travelling the outer world and the private journeys of negotiating our own inner worlds, if you will. And our interview, “Ramblecrunch!,” combines the two in a look at worldschooling a ten-year-old in an RV around Europe for a year.
Young girls at various stages of their lives also figure in Taryn Thomson’s “The Game” and in Michele Annable’s story “Livia.” Sara Lier’s hobo-girls, and the women travelling through the images of poets Diane Buchanan, Portia Carryer, and Christine McNair—these women are familiar to all of us.
The poems of both Margaret Malloch Zielinski and Chuqiao Yang carry us to distant places, with Zielinski transporting us to faraway places with evocative names, while Yang’s travels lead us on more internal journeys. In the fiction of Michelle Kholos Brooks, her protagonist recalls an earlier version of herself, while in “Open Loop” Ann Cavlovic’s protagonist slowly walks herself into a new version of herself.
For interior art for this issue, photographs felt more appropriate than paintings or illustrations. C. Caroline Schmeing’s photos capture the carefree, unselfconscious moments of youth, and the images of photographer Joanne Gallant-Chilton capture deliberate movement, feet carefully or joyously placed upon a path.
The interplay between aging, failing fathers and daughters is the subject of both JoAnne Potter’s piece, and of Barbara Parker’s opening piece, “Losing the Word for World.” Parker’s piece is also about a man who studies the language of hunter-gatherers, who knows that “once a family is settled, ten thousand years of history is lost. A thousand words will disappear.” Poet Carol Shillibeer examines the interpretation of language, as does Marilyn Moriarty in her creative non-fiction piece “Naked Italian.” Even when writers are writing about everything else, we are still writing about language.
Our closing pieces, both creative non-fiction, are about the end of the journey, and finding the place that is home. For Dawn Service, it is about rebuilding a cabin, to the accompaniment of bird song. And in our final piece, “Homecoming,” Jen Brubacher says, “The world unravelled huge at my feet and I walked it without fear.” Whether on a journey of travel or a journey of growth, I wish the world may unravel huge for all of us.
Sara Lier’s poetry has appeared in over twenty publications. She lives in New York City, where she is currently attending Brooklyn College’s creative writing program and working part time at the public library. She sleeps poorly, reads excessively, and dreams of leaving it all behind to live by the sea.
Joanne Gallant-Chilton’s photography received national attention in 2003 when the cover of The Antigonish Review featuring her work won a top award from the Canadian Magazine Publishers Association. That same year Joanne was featured in a CBC television documentary Artiste dans l’âme entitled “Parallel Worlds” Find her at mindfulcreations.com or wildwomantwofeathers.com.
Landon Mackenzie is one of Canada’s leading painters. She has had a major influence on a generation of artists through her twenty-five years teaching at Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver. Her work is exhibited and collected in Canada and internationally.
Clélie Rich is a freelance editor and poet. She was part of Room’s editorial collective in the 90s and is happy to be back for a second time. She lives in Vancouver with her herb garden, far too many books, and one small but determined cat.
C. Caroline Schmeing is an avid world traveller, capturing images of daily life while backpacking in Asia and Europe, living in Oceania, and jetting off to Africa during her work breaks. Her current journey is exploring the micro- cosmos outside her Toronto door.
Taryn Thomson’s “The Game” was long-listed for the 2010 CBC Literary Prize, and shortlisted for the Writer’s Guild of Canada Short Prose Competition for Developing Writers. A past participant of the Banff Centre’s Wired Writing program, Taryn lives with her children in East Vancouver where she teaches and writes.