Room magazine has been connecting with its readers for over 35 years, and its biggest strength is its ability to spark discussion with readers on what unites us as women. In today’s changing society, we are seeing a shift in gender roles and identities. Many of the pieces in this issue explore gender barriers to expand our perspective on what it means to be female.
Our issue opens with a conversation with poet Sandra Ridley on her experiments with different styles of poetry and the emotional impact that comes with exploration. Our commissioned piece, short fiction by Jessica Westhead, is a playful contrast, illustrating one woman’s interior dialogue on self and pop-culture. From the detail inherent in Ridley’s clear love of poetry and poetic forms, to Westhead’s no less thoughtful, yet playful stream of consciousness it is evident that form is as important as the message.
Our contest winners feature powerful writing about the vulnerability of migrant women in foreign lands; transgender characters trying to find their place in society; family and motherhood, and the gut-wrenching experience that happens when it all falls apart and when the pieces are put back together.
A truly collective issue is one that opens itself up to a broad range of editorial voices and writing styles. This issue came together in collaboration with genre coordinators who selected the very best of poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction. Poetry editors Emily Milliken and Lorrie Miller chose several poems that reveal different aspects of femininity, desire, and sensuality.
Our fiction editors, Meghan Bell and Nailah King, selected “Reel” as their favourite piece. Carrie Schmidt and Jennifer Zilm, the creative non-fiction editors, chose two pieces: “Women Here Have Never Heard of Curtains” and “Examples of Form.” Each of these diverse female voices brings a new dimension to the discussion of the female experience.
This issue encompasses a sense of diversity that I hope will open up a dialogue on what it means to be a woman. Enjoy!
Najwa Ali writes fiction, essays and sometimes, poetry. She was born in Zanzibar and has lived, worked, and studied in various parts of East Africa, South Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and North America. You can find her, once in a while, on twitter @Najwa_Layla.
After her Ma passed away in 2008, Karen Sylvia Rockwell became fierce about writing, diving into workshops, salons, and readings. Her work is featured in Womanspirit’s In Our Own Voice, The Saving Bannister, Vanessa Shields’s Poetry On Demand vol.2, Cranberry Tree Press’s Happenstance, and Polar Expressions’s anthologies. Karen lives in Belle River, Ontario.
Carol Lazare’s stories have appeared in The Malahat Review, The American Voice, Longshot, and the anthologies Slowhand (HarperCollins) and The Girl Wants To (Coach House Press). Carol has won two best actress Etrogs from the Canadian Film Awards. She is an adult literacy and numeracy instructor for the Toronto District School Board.
Amy McCall has been a member of the Room collective since 2009. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English and French from the University of the Fraser Valley. She is an editor and a flight attendant and loves to travel, but loves grammar more.
Jessica Westhead’s novel Pulpy & Midge was published by Coach House Books in 2007. Her short story collection And Also Sharks (Cormorant Books, 2011) was a Globe and Mail Top 100 Book and a finalist for the Danuta Gleed Short Fiction Prize. CBC Books has called her one of the “10 Canadian women writers you need to read now.”