This issue of Room does not offer comfort. Certainly not the comfort offered by unblinking screens when your own eyes are bleary and you are searching for answers. We offer no prescriptions, like “how you should be coping” or these are “stages” you shall pass through.
We bring truths, even bleak truths, and an intimacy offered to those reading these pages of private moments, fiction or not, all true of heart. Margaret Laurence said all writing “is an act of hope and faith; it says life is worth living.” I believe her, and am guided by her, having only met her through intimate reading.
I believe her, although the inspiration for the theme Mythologies of Loss comes from the aftermath of losing my son in childbirth, when a dumb and numb sadness pressed its cold body over everything. Those who have outlived anyone you loved deeply know what I mean.
In truth, that last sentence is a question, “Do you know what I mean?” (I ask, as songwriter Christa Couture does in our issue.)
While reviewing submissions for this issue, it became clear to me that writers and artists, as sensing people, aware of nuances, and cycles of life, do know. Writing and art is often the best place to turn in grief, quite simply because writers, poets, and artists face loss head on: we pick apart the mythologies of our cultures; we reconstruct them.
Joy Kogawa’s reconstruction sees loss as blessing, bringing us something deeper than what we had before. And Sue Goyette says that writing on loss made her feel wild in its true sense, thriving.
I believe writing and reading on loss opens within us a greater capacity for much-needed tenderness. Fundamentally, the writing in this issue reaches out, from one solitude (writing) to another solitude (reading). It shares how we all manage, how we honour and cherish, how things are messed up, how they are beautiful. In all of this, I hope you find something tender and true.
Elizabeth Berlin is a writer, Special Education teacher, and Learning Disabilities Specialist for children in Tucson, Arizona. Recent publications include short stories in the literary magazine The StoryTeller, published by the Society of Southwestern Authors. She loves to travel and hike and recently visited Vancouver and Victoria.
Jan Bottiglieri is a freelance writer in suburban Chicago and holds an MFA in poetry from Pacific University. She is an associate editor for the literary annual RHINO, and her poems have appeared in Court Green, Rattle, Margie, and elsewhere. Jan’s chapbook Where Gravity Pools the Sugar is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.
Nandini Dhar’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Prick of the Spindle, lingerpost, Palooka, Existere, PANK, Pear Noir, and SOFTBLOW. A Pushcart nominee, Nandini grew up in Kolkata, India. Currently, she is a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature at the University of Texas at Austin, and lives in Austin, Texas.
Amy Friend currently resides in St. Catharines, Ontario, where she teaches at Brock University. Her work often explores notions of memory, freedom, infinity, and the invisible. She has exhibited nationally and internationally and is represented by Art Interiors and Atti Gallery in Toronto, and Chip Chop Gallery in Paris. More of her work appears at amyfriend.ca.
Rachel Thompson’s debut collection of poems, Galaxy (Anvil Press, 2011), won Simon Fraser University’s First Book Competition. Manitoba-born and raised, she now divides her time between Canada and Egypt. She joined Room’s editorial collective during her decade in Vancouver. She tweets about poetry, technology, and life in the Middle East (@rachelthompson).