On any sheet of ruled paper in the average notebook, the line down the left-hand side of the page, often red like a stop sign, says that this area, the margin, is out of bounds. In the centre of the page, words form sentences, presenting opinions. Anything written here is open to criticism, scrutiny, and best of all, acclaim. Off to the left, beyond that red line, are scratches, doodles, and half-formed ideas that are out of range of the public eye. This is where it begins. Once these marginalia are given licence to spread themselves into the centre of the page, there is no stopping them.
This issue is dedicated to those pushed to the fringes, whether financially, socially, culturally, sexually, geographically, or even personally. The writing here reflects these sometimes wayward outlooks on life.
Planning to focus on those who are generally overlooked in society, I was delighted to open a manila submissions envelope to find Amber Dawn's outstanding piece of creative non-fiction. Since this first piece, I found and acquired many pieces that wonderfully and poignantly depict life in the margins. From Eden Robinson's tale of an elder living in subsidized housing who reflects on her old life in her village to tales of immigration, life on the streets, and struggles with anorexia, these stories and poems emphasize the dark and the light of life on the outskirts.
Just as the scrawls written in margins are often single words and incomplete sentences meant to remind the writer of a greater chain of ideas, the words and phrases typically associated with the marginalized are shadows of the very real lives ready to cross the line and share their stories. Welcome to the centre of the page.
Amber Dawn has been published in several Canadian literary journals, including Fireweed, Event, Dandelion, and Fiddlehead. She is the editor of an anthology of feminist erotica titled With a Rough Tongue: Femmes Write Porn (Arsenal Pulp Press).
Christine McPhee is a poet whose work has appeared in several Canadian literary magazines. Christine lives, works, and writes along the banks of the Fraser River in Langley, B.C.
Natalie Meisner is assistant professor of english and creative writing at the University of Regina. Her work has appeared in Grain, TAR, The Nashwak Review, Pottersfield Portfolio, and Canadian anthologies of poetry and drama. Her plays have won the Canadian National Playwriting Competition, been staged across Canada, and produced by CBC Radio.
Emily Milliken lives in Victoria, B.C. She plays in a local band, writes first thing in the morning, and misses Ontario thunderstorms.
Monica Penner graduated from the University of British Columbia and afterwards studied publishing. She has worked at Whitecap Books and is now the sales and marketing assistant at Raincoast Books. She is also a writer and lives in Vancouver, B.C.
Sophia Sperdakos is a lawyer and historian who is learning to tell stories. She lives in Toronto with her husband and son. This is the second story she has published in Room. It is dedicated to her mother.
Anna Swanson lives in Vancouver, where she is studying to be a librarian. Her poetry has been published in various journals, including Grain, CV2, PRISM International, The Malahat Review, and Prairie Fire.