Jessica Johns

In March 2020, this special extended issue 44.1 Growing Room will be out in the world, featuring writers and artists who were all intended to appear in person at our 2020 Growing Room Literary & Arts Festival, which was cancelled due to COVID-19.

We put so much love, time, and labour into creating a festival that represented storytelling in the many different ways we know it to exist: writing, spoken word, visual art, movement, magic, and more. The result has morphed and changed into this issue, which holds our keynote address from Kai Cheng Thom and a brilliant and thoughtful interview with Maneo Mohale. This issue blends new and already published work from artists, poets, fiction, and nonfiction writers, folks who we are happy to still be able to share space with, albeit in a different way.

Since the festival-that-never-was, Room had to rethink how thinkers, writers, artists, and community members gather to share art and space. This reimagining of a festival into an extended issue necessitated concessions but also extended relationship building with the writers and artists featured, which is something I cherish very dearly. Particularly these days.

Every festival event and issue coordination has taken place on the traditional and unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. Thank you to the original stewards of this land for creating a space for us to do this work. The 2020 festival and this issue would not have been possible without Chelene Knight, Nav Nagra, Selina Boan, Meagan Joy Black, Mica Lemiski, Kayi Wong, Dana Kagis, Serena Bhandar, Carleigh Baker, Jillian Christmas, Isabella Wang, the Indigenous Brilliance team (jaye simpson, Emily Dundas Oke, Karmella Cen Benedito De Barros, and Patricia Massy), who were staff, programming committee members, and special event curators.

Special thanks to Amber Dawn, Erika Thorkelson, Maneo Mohale, Nisa Malli, Domenica Martinello, Amal Rana, Dina Del Bucchia, Aimee Louw, Rachel Thomp-son, the Emily Carr Writers Centre, Massy Books, Cicely Belle Blain and Becca Schwenk with Cicely Blain Consulting, Heather McCain with Creating Accessible Neighbourhoods, and Chelene Knight with Breathing Space Creative. These folks supported us in many ways to ensure our dream for the festival was made a reality, and I thank them for sharing this experience with us.

While this issue may look different from the original intention, it is still full of the same love. I hope you feel it too.

Pre-order this issue by February 10th and receive a discount on this big and beautiful extended issue.

hiy hiy, Jessica Johns