After living in New York for many years, Durga Chew-Bose returned to her hometown of Montréal to finish her debut collection of essays, Too Much and Not the Mood (FSG), which was subsequently named by The Globe and Mail and NPR as one of the best books published in 2017. In the following interview, Room editorial board member Kayi Wong met up with the essayist at a literary festival between her panels, and chatted about Tumblr, the lack of clarity in her writing, and the radical act of liking things as women of colour.
"These queer stories are already ingrained in the land, and I’m just trying to find them. Things are never forgotten, they’re just forgone."—Joshua Whitehead. In an in-depth interview, Room's Jessica Johns chats with Joshua Whitehead, an Oji-Cree Two-Spirit storyteller and academic from Peguis First Nation on Treaty 1 territory in Manitoba, and author of the novel Jonny Appleseed (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2018) and the poetry collection full-metal indigiqueer (TalonBooks, 2017).
Jessica Johns spoke with Arielle Spence, a queer, nonbinary aspiring writer and arts administrator originally from Coldstream, BC (unceded Okanagan Territory). They were the festival director of Growing Room 2017, Room’s inaugural feminist literary festival, one of the assistant editors of the forthcoming queer issue, and are currently editing Room's Magic issue. Here’s a sneak peak of the RoomMate interview.
Zoe Whittall on her recent “zeitgeist” book, sexual harassment in CanLit, how reviews for books by queer writers has changed since her early work, and what she is looking for in submissions to Room’s fiction contest this year.
Covering everything from the state of Canadian media to adult summer camps to racist marketing in the beauty industry, Koul’s writing is as thoughtful as it is funny. Her first book, One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter (Doubleday, 2017), is a sharp and poignant essay collection that covers family, friendship, racism, immigration, rape culture, and online harassment. In the following interview, Koul speaks to Room about writing her first book, keeping family secrets, and why representation matters.
Hustling Verse: An Anthology of Sex Workers’ Poetry, edited by Amber Dawn and Justin Ducharme, will be a trailblazing collection in which sex workers share their experiential knowledge through the expressiveness, nuance, and beauty of poetry. Currently, Dawn and Ducharme are calling for self-identified sex workers from any part of the industry (survival or trade, past or present) to submit. Poems specifically about sex work are strongly encouraged, though writing about relationships, healing, identity, and other themes that may overlap. The book will be published by Arsenal Pulp Press in the fall of 2019. With the submission deadline nearing, Jónína Kirton caught up with the co-editors for an interview.
To celebrate the launch of Room 41.2 Changing Language, we would like to share the portion of the BackRoom and RoomMate interviews that didn't make it to print. First up, it's Nav Nagra's interview with Dainty Smith, whose work we discovered on Instagram last year.
Vivek Shraya is an artist. Fluent in many mediums including music and the written word, Shraya is also the author of even this page is white, She of the Mountains and her upcoming book I’m Afraid of Men. Shraya released her album Part-Time Woman in 2017 and is one half of the music duo Too Attached, who blew the roof off Room Magazine’s Growing Room 2018 Festival Launch Party earlier this year. I had the pleasure of meeting the powerhouse that is Vivek Shraya at that launch party and jumped at the chance to speak with her again.
On May 1, 2018, the call for Issue 42.1 "Magic" opened. In anticipation of this exciting themed issue, the editorial team of the issue share some thoughts about their connection to the theme, what they're looking for in submissions, and recommendations for ways to live your reading life (and every day) more magical.
Spring may not have sprung wherever you are, but at least we have Room 41.4 to look forward to. This is your chance to be published alongside Kim Fu, author of For Today I Am a Boy and The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore and an interview with Ayana Mathis, whose novel The Twelve Tribes of Hattie was selected for Oprah’s Book Club. Don’t forget to submit your best writing on any theme before April 30, 2018! Underrepresented writers—including but not limited to women and nonbinary writers who are Black, Indigenous, people of colour, queer and/or disabled—are especially encouraged to submit.
An interview with Renée Sarojini Saklikar, author of children of air india, un/authorized exhibits and interjections (Nightwood Editions, 2013), which won the Canadian Authors Award for poetry and was short-listed for the Dorothy Livesay Award.
Stacey May Fowles is a novelist, sportswriter, essayist, and Room’s 2018 creative non-fiction contest judge. She received widespread acclaim for her passionate perspective on baseball and fandom in her 2017 essay collection, Baseball Life Advice. We had a chance to talk to Fowles about finding community in writing and what makes for riveting non-fiction.
Selina Boan is a poet living on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Musqueam, Sḵwxwú7mesh, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. She has been published extensively in literary magazines across Canada, won the Gold National Magazine Award for poetry in 2017, and was shortlisted for the 2016 CBC Poetry Prize. She is currently working on a collection of poems exploring her Cree and European heritage. “Here we go” and “the plot so far” are poems included in this collection and appear in Room’s “Let’s Make Contact” issue 40.4. The love and genuine care that is so evident in Selina’s poems she also puts into the work of the people around her. She champions emerging writers and her friends, and she attends to strengthening community building at every opportunity. Her work is powerful, necessary, and utterly brilliant, and she is very much deserving of Room’s Emerging Writer Award.
Jane Eaton Hamilton is the author of nine books of creative non-fiction, fiction, and poetry, and the judge of Room magazine's 2018 Short Forms Contest (extended to January 29). In the following interview, Jane talks to Room's Mica Lemiski about their upcoming book of flash fiction, Soon I Will Be Dead, the shrinking word counts of literary magazine submissions, blurring genres, and what they look for in a contest submission.
In January 2017, Arielle Spence spoke with Ann Y.K. Choi about her debut novel, Kay’s Lucky Coin Variety. Kay’s—which was a finalist for the 2016 Toronto Book Award—charts the coming-of-age of Mary, a Korean Canadian teenager living in Toronto in the 1980s. Over the course of the conversation, Ann spoke about lessons learned from teenagers; motherhood and migration; discovering one’s agency; a Handbook for Debut Novelists; and practicing gratitude.
While the 41.2 editorial team was “taking a break” from sharing their aspirations for the upcoming issue with one another, they chatted about their favourite books and experiences working in the lit mags sphere. Submit your original essays, short stories, poems, and visual art to this open issue by Oct 31st, and you might be published alongside our commissioned author Katherena Vermette and a feature interview with Durga Chew-Bose.
After falling in love with This Accident of Being Lost this past summer, and then quickly devouring almost everything else she’s published, Jessica Johns jumped at the chance to chat with the award-winning writer prior to her trip to Vancouver for this year’s Writers Fest. Here, Leanne Simpson talks about interventions in writing, taking care for Indigenous audiences, and her advice to the community to lift up, listen to, and support Indigenous emerging writers, particularly the two-spirit queer and trans writers.
Katherena Vermette is a Métis writer from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Her collection of poetry, North End Love Songs, won the 2013 Governor General’s Award for Poetry, and her debut novel The Break has won numerous awards and was a Canada Reads 2017 finalist. Most recently, she won the 2017 Canadian Screen Award for her documentary This River.
Kelly Morse talks about her resolution to have thirty submssions out at once so she couldn't obsess about one or two journals and writing about Vietnam while mindful of Western stereotypes and orientalism.
Scaachi Koul has risen to prominence over the last few years as perhaps the most recognizable young voice in Canadian media. Currently a culture writer at Buzzfeed, Koul has gained a huge following on Twitter for her unique blend of self-deprecating humour and scathing commentary on racism and misogyny. Koul spoke to Room about female mentorship, racism in Canada, and the challenges of self-care. Look for a longer feature interview with Koul in Room’s upcoming issue 41.1, Family Secrets.
Currently on Newsstands
Room 41.2, Changing Language
Edited by Kayi Wong
In this issue:
Manahil Bandukwala, Fang Bu, Allison Graves, Kadijah Guillaume, Ava Homa, Ashley Hynd, Amy LeBlanc, Vanessa Lent, Tasslyn Magnusson, Chloe Yelena Miller, Amy Oldfield, Alycia Pirmohamed, Mia Poirier, Victoria Prevot, Michelle Purchase, Jade Riordan, Ellie Sawatzky, Bren Simmers, Dahae Song, Anne Stone, Susie Taylor, Katherena Vermette, Kayi Wong, Hiba Zafran, Shellie Zhang.