I have been thinking a lot about loss lately. I have been a voracious reader since childhood; I have always filled the spaces created by loneliness and loss with words. For me, and, no doubt, for many, many others, it’s just been one of those years.
This issue of Room is filled with narratives of loss: broken hearts, forgotten languages, missing and dying loved ones, and thefts of body, land, and rights. The title is paraphrased from the final lines of Debbie Urbanski’s poem on page 91: “Those who saw her rubble asked / what have you lost? But look at what she has: / the rubble, her loss.” As I assembled the content, which includes the winners of three contests and work submitted in response to an open call for submissions, the same questions recurred: What have you lost? What has been stolen from you? And: How do we heal? Where do we go from here?
In the pages that follow, a recent university graduate goes to confront her wealthy landlords after they serve her an eviction notice, a sister admits to her brother that she was raped, and a boy in a residential school longs for home. In one poem, a woman sees her former lover’s face on the surfaces of grilled cheese sandwiches and crumpled Kleenex. In another, the narrator’s dying mother tells her, You have tragedy in your blood.
In her interview with Nav Nagra, Chelsea Rooney, author of the acclaimed novel Pedal, says, “It’s fiction that sets us free.” This observation has echoed in the back of my mind for weeks. I’ve been obsessing about the power and comforts of stories. I’ll end with a comic I drew last fall, on a similar theme.
I hope you enjoy this issue.