Getting a peek of an avid reader’s bookshelf is one of life’s simple pleasures. If you’ve ever shown up to a house party and gone straight to the host’s bookshelf, you know how satisfying it is to snoop through other readers’ libraries. The editors of Room love reading (obviously), and we’re giving you a glimpse of our shelves and sharing how we get the most out of our sacred reading time.
Bodymap by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha uses Dawn’s quote as a preface, setting up a bold framework for what’s to come. This book is pure Piepzna-Samarasinha—tough and full of desire; it needs to be flaunted in all its glory.
Her poems—divided into six sections—gain your attention immediately. Her quest for healing includes multiple references to self-pleasure, formed and folded into a self-made medication for daily, unpredictable pain. Her words flow steadily, preaching a blunt, soulful mix of expert line breaks and thoughtful syntax through prose and other forms that work to create a bodily connection, such as in “dirty river girl”: “For my body / for your body / to come back from being swept away?”
Raw, like the way it feels in the moment after losing a lover—that same feeling comes through in these poems. They claw at you, pleading. Pipepzna-Samarasinha’s bold personal truths—like, the way a woman looks at her own body and/or tries sharing her beauty with others—forces us to see ourselves in this collection. We all have experienced pain, lost love, self-loathing and fear of failure. Bodymap is the mirror that reflects this right back at us.
In Bodymap, the shape of each poem tailors to the speaker’s voice, whether that’s simple or complex—even short stanzas do the work they are meant to do. In the poem “a million dollars,” she says, “I want you to love me / after the lipstick wears off.” These words carry so much weight because we all want to be loved and know what it’s like when that love is unreachable. The feeling itself lingers, much like those two lines.
Although many poems tell tales of past pain, there is no victim seeking pity. Instead there are stories embedded between these pages. Pipepzna-Samarasinha weaves race, queer love, and the sensuality of a woman’s body into one tangible entity. Although each can serve a purpose on their own, the braiding of the three is what makes them grip and hold on tight to each other on this trip through our own body’s map.
Chelene talks about editing issue 39.4, her new role as Room's Managing Editor, and about her own writing.
As part of Vancouver’s PUSH Festival, Cynthia Hopkin’s one woman show, A Living Documentary, immediately hooks the audience in with just her mere presence on stage.
Chelene Knight talks to Terri Brandmueller about what’s coming up in 39.2 and what makes a good Room submission. Deadline for poetry, fiction, CNF and art is October 31, 2015.
Once again, we're excited to join the thousands of like-minded literary folks who attend WORD Vancouver each year. Here are five ways to check out Room magazine at WORD Vancouver 2015.
What it means to co-editors Nailah King and Christina Cooke to be editing the Women of Colour issue, and their advice for Women of Colour who are struggling with whether to submit to Room.
A review of Girlhood (directed by Céline Sciamma), now playing in select theatres.
Currently on Newsstands
Room 40.4, Let's Make Contact
Edited by Chelene Knight
In this issue:
Kate Balfour, Selina Boan, Chelsea Comeau, elaine corden, Nancy Jo Cullen, Ariel Dawn, Harjit Dosanjh, Jann Everard, Jiyoon Ha, Gili Haimovich, benjamin lee hicks, Edythe Anstey Hanen , Claire Miller-Harder, Kyla Jamieson, Amanda Kelly, Cara Lang, Ashley Little, Andrea MacPherson, Rowan McCandless, Hajer Mirwali, Barbara Rosini, Sheila Sanderson, Taylor Stewart, Anny Tang, Susanne von Rennenkampff, Aisha Walker, jia qing wilson-yang.