When I first agreed to edit this issue of Room of One’s Own, I had no idea ofthe breadth and depth ofthe material from which I would have to choose. From work already accepted by the editorial collective, I culled stories, essays and poems from writers in Canada, the U.S., and as far away as New Zealand.ltis only now, as I re-read this issue, that I realize how dazzled I was by the different styles and approaches, so much so that attempting to rein this issue together with a single theme seemed impossible. So I gave up.
Instead, I took heart that this was an issue of variations, of ideas and the themes jostling together for room. From Jessica Johnson’s Violent Women, where a single snapshot yields “uncountable dramas,” to Zoe Landale’s marvel and wonder at Polaris, the universe and a beloved daughter making her solitary way up a wide staircase, I was constantly delighted by each writer’s approach to her story through poetry or prose, or even blurring the lines between the two. Judy Smith’s And the Fire Burns, for example, where “Mary Jane Kaskamin is making slippers, a steal at thirty bucks a pair,” is a hypnotic folk ballad with its own refrain.
In her essay, Three Reflections on the Ethics of Autobiography, Renee Norman asks provocative questions about the intersection between life and writing. She argues eloquently for the significance of autobiography as a literary and humanistic form. For me, her essay invited contemplation on the personal and the public, and how each writer negotiates his or her own terrain through these separate spheres.To link the autobiographical self and the imaginative self (and innumerable other selves and facets), seemed, in the work that was simply dazzling.
I think of the fiction pieces included here, each sharing a first person narrator who takes us along on her own unique, and sometimes peculiar journey. The first time I read Laura Durnell’s heartbreaking and wondrously written Regina Leigh, I was awestruck. In Lauren Davis’ Smoke and Ash, medicated and hungover Winnie labours to make her best impression, perhaps for all the wrong reasons; and in Bones, Lee J. Engfer unveils the symbiotic and luminous relationship between hypochon driac Lin and geriatric Thea.
From Jennica Harper’s perfect gem of a poem Driving, to the charming playfulness of Christina Francisco’s Intricate Patterns, from Madeline Walker’s crisp and suddenly powerful Erosion to the precision and beauty of poems by Antonia Banyard, Linda Holeman and Alice Major, to name but a few, selecting poetry for this issue was a true pleasure.
Thanks to the writers who submitted their work; and thanks at last to the volunteer editorial collective of Room of One’s Own for their commitment and dedication.