To wander—to depart one place and move without a clear destination—can be a strange but also wonderful action. We can become wanderers simply by meandering through a city park, or by journeying across the world. Regardless of the distances we span, wandering gives us the opportunity to explore a new place, or simply discover a new perspective on an already-familiar realm.
Since no destinations determine our paths, as wanderers, we feel free. Having no distinct destination, however, can also engender uneasiness, even terror. When we wander, we must have courage and accept the chance that we may lose our way. I will never forget the panic I felt when, first moving to Vancouver to explore a new direction in my life, I got lost trying to find my new apartment. I missed the correct highway exit and then kept taking wrong turns, continually driving in the wrong direction. Other times, emotional distress has pushed me into aimless motion, making me an involuntary wanderer. In such times, I feel not free, but forsaken (perhaps even by my own will). But I’m not sure such distressed wandering is entirely removed from the wandering that fosters discovery and freedom. When we are lost, our senses are quickened and we are forced to map out unfamiliar territory for ourselves.
Wandering implies both a beautiful unease and a precarious freedom, a complexity that many of the stories and poems in this issue of Room of One’s Own illuminate. Many of these works show how, as wanderers, we can create new paths to our own destinations; not only physical ones, but also emotional, mental, and spiritual.
Regardless of whether we wander physically or mentally, purposely or accidentally, we have the opportunity to create our destinations. We carve paths that haven’t been carved for us. In fact, wandering serves as a wonderful metaphor for writing itself—a path with an unknown destination inscribes a story and a message, one that calls especially to other wanderers.
COVER ARTIST'S STATEMENT
Painting the female body and its attitudes is the way I express feelings from within. To my own astonishment—sometimes without being aware of it—I always end up translating emotions of the moment. It might be the influence of my training in etching, but I often apply layers of paint, and then scratch its surfaces as I constantly crave to discover what lies beneath. I use warm earth colours, which are soothing to the eye. As my interests and concerns vary, so do my subjects, but the female body will always remain the focus of my self-expression.
Stephanie Earp lives in Toronto, where she is a staff writer for TV Guide magazine, and a regular contributor to Elle Canada. Her creative work has appeared in The Fiddlehead, The Antigonish Review, Taddle Creek, and Good Girl.
Rebecca Houwer lives in Montreal, Quebec, where she is finishing an MA at McGill University. She is ever grateful to her family, things that grow despite, and the fact of poems.
Melanie Klingbeil is an editor for the financial-education Web site Investopedia.com, and she works as peer-editing moderator for Athabasca University’s English 255. Melanie has a BA (Honours) in English from the University of Alberta, and she recently relocated to Vancouver, where she joined the Room of One’s Own editorial collective. Melanie will begin an MA in communication at Simon Fraser University in the fall of 2005.
Nyla Matuk is a Toronto writer. Between 1997 and 2004, she was associate editor at Canadian Architect. Her fiction and essays have appeared in Event, Descant, Lola, BlackFlash Magazine, The Globe and Mail, and elsewhere. Currently, she is developing a suite of nonsense poems about Turkish delight, a biloquist, and other things.
Lana Okerlund is a freelance editor based in Vancouver. In addition to being a member of the editorial collective that publishes Room of One’s Own, Lana works on a variety of literary and business editing projects. Lana has a Certificate in Editing from Simon Fraser University and a business degree from the University of Manitoba.
Claude St-Jacques lives in Montreal. She attended l’Université du Québec where she completed a BA in Fine Arts with a major in printing, specializing in etching. She also completed a degree in art teaching in 1979. She has been painting professionally since 1985, and has exhibited her works in numerous group and solo exhibitions in Canada, the U.S., Mexico, and France. Major corporations and art collectors have acquired her work.