By Clélie Rich in 35.1 (Roomie list is ongoing)
When Virginia Aulin wrote her introduction to Room’s 25th anniversary issue, she looked at the history of the magazine, and of women’s writing in general. When Lisa Manfield and Karin Konstantynowicz wrote their introduction to Room’s 30th anniversary volume, they did the same. While this piece has some elements of a retrospective, my interest is instead the collective, the group of women who have chosen to come together to create, maintain, and nurture Room.
Every collective member has Virginia Woolf’s quote engraved on her heart. “It is necessary to have five hundred [pounds] a year and a room with a lock on the door if you are to write fiction or poetry.” All well and good. Virginia was also blessed with servants, who are of course never mentioned. Consider us, the collective, as those servants. A new Roomie recently said that the collective seems like a secret society. In the past, we’ve always focused on the magazine, rather than the women behind it. But that’s beginning to change. In our newsletter we now introduce the editor of each issue, we welcome new Roomies with a brief introduction, and we say fond farewells to departing Roomies. We’re even considering some kind of blog on our site to enable our readers to get to know us all even better.
Room is one of a handful of Canadian literary magazines that is not attached to or administered by an educational institution. It’s a magazine run by volunteers, and as our lives and interests change, the members come and go.
For readers this means the magazine itself constantly changes to reflect the interests and experience of the current collective. This is perhaps most obvious in the women we choose to profile in our interviews, and in the themes we choose to work on.
For collective members, it means something else entirely. Where else to go to learn all aspects of publishing a literary magazine? Roomies do everything for the magazine, from paying the bills to soliciting commissions, maintaining the website, learning to copy edit and proofread, marketing, handling subscriptions, etc. Everything. Collective members can rotate through all these departments if they wish, taking with them invaluable skills when they move on to other endeavours. In the ten years since our 25th anniversary, Roomies have gone on to become editors, graphic designers, web developers, and GG-nominated and award-winning writers.
Our mandate may be to put together the best quality literary magazine by Canada’s emerging women writers that we can, but in doing so we are also in a position to train some of the next generation of Canadian publishing specialists. And that’s rewarding!
Here is a list of some of the Roomies who have passed through the virtual doors of the magazine since its inception. And if you are a Room alumna whose name is not on here, please forgive me for leaving you out. Sadly, we do not have copies of every single issue, right from the very beginning. Please send me your name and the years you were active. We’ll include you in future lists. (And if you have a copy of an early issue that you want to part with, we’d love to give it a good home in our archives.)
Elaine Bougie Gilligan
Amy Dunn Moscoso
Robin Van Heck
Yvonne Van Ruskenveld
Gail van Varseveld
Kam Sein Yee