More often than not, when Roomies gather, we talk about books. Books we can't put down, books we couldn't put up with, and books that make us talk. For this reading list, eleven of us got together and discussed novels, short story collections, poetry, memoirs, and comics that we have read and loved which happen to be written by Canadian Women of Colour. A few of these are well-known classics, a few are upcoming releases. There are stories set locally and abroad, and also include one in dystopian Toronto. Writing from the Women of Colour perspective is not a genre, but instead a multitude of voices, stories, and experiences coming together. And even though we are honoured to feature a handful of these writers are in our upcoming anthology, we know that this is just a starting point, and by no means a comprehensive list of books written by Canadian WOCs. At Room, we recognize that there is work to do, and we are already working on a part two.
On Friday August 19, Room celebrated several exciting new ventures including a reading to announce our forthcoming fortieth anniversary anthology (to be published March 2017 and launched at the first ever Growing Room: A Feminist Literary Festival in Vancouver). The rooftop was stellar, the readings were amazing, and the ambiance was one of a kind. As the sun began to set, the warm air carried these beauiful voices across the roof and over the city. This was a spectacular evening.
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.
Currently on Newsstands
Room 41.3, Queer
Edited by Leah Golob
In this issue:
Adèle Barclay, Joelle Barron, Nicole Breit, Mary Chen, Lucas Crawford, Jen Currin, Pamela Dodds, Jane Eaton Hamilton, Jess Goldman, hannah harris-sutro, Leah Horlick, Sam Jowett, Ness Lee, Annick MacAskill, Alessandra Naccarato, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Marika Prokosh, Amal Rana, Siobhan Roca Payne, Leah Sandals, Hana Shafi, Arielle Spence, Samantha Sternberg, Sanchari Sur, K.B. Thors, Corey Turner, Jackie Wykes.