I am, and I am becoming.
—Oubah Osman, “Periphery”
I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of emerging writers and artists—how it’s vital to make space for new creators and marginalized voices. They are the artists who are shaping the way we see the world and the writers who are changing our literary landscape. We need these fresh perspectives to shake us out of complacency and sameness.
Narratives of renewal and transformation, both internal and external, permeate this issue. A grandmother’s death prompts a writer to reflect on loss and the power of stories, a visit to a hairdresser triggers complex memories, and a bus driver’s trip through a speculative, future Vancouver is familiar in unsettling ways. Our 2018 contest winners explore new horizons in creative non-fiction and short forms. And in the feature interview, Ayana Mathis discuses how her novel evolved from her initial idea into a book that caught Oprah’s attention.
One of the most exciting parts of editing an issue of Room is the opportunity to showcase new voices alongside established writers. In her story “Liddy, First to Fly,” award-winning author Kim Fu introduces us to a girl undergoing a startling metamorphosis and her circle of curious friends. The young girls navigate a “new hidden world” away from prying adult eyes. With humour and nuance, Fu observes the poignant strangeness of growing up.
This issue emerged through a creative collaboration with the talented contributors, assistant editor Geffen Semach, shadow editor Yvonne Robertson, and all the Room team members who read and selected submissions. The invaluable advice and feedback of Meghan Bell, Nailah King, Chelene Knight, Leah Golob, and Rebecca Russell guided me through the editing process.
As Whitney French says in her BackRoom interview, writing can be “oppressive, debilitating, and exceptionally soul-twisting.” Given the care and craft that went into each piece in this issue, I hope you’ll find something that inspires you.