An interview with Emily Carroll: A Fairy-Tale Teller in the Digital Age

From 37.3 Geek Girls, an interview with comic artist and writer Emily Carroll. Carroll has been a prominent voice in the web comic horror genre since her work “His Face All Red” went viral during the Halloween of 2010.

Catch Room at WORD Vancouver on Sept 28 in three different ways

Room magazine is proud to be participating in the annual WORD Vancouver festival this year at Library Square on Sept. 28. This year we’ll be hosting our magazine table where we’ll have the current 37:3 Geek Girls issue and our fabulous back issues. At 12:20 p.m. poets from 37:2 and 37:3 will read their work at our Room reading, and at 4:15 p.m. Roomie Carrie Schmidt will be participating on a lit magazine panel. Hope to see you there!

Reel

The astronaut on screen is crying. From the moon he has finally managed to call his daughter, only her face on the videophone shows no flare of recognition. He’s been gone so long he has become someone else to her.

A Bitter Mood of Clouds

Bitter moods of clouds
By 
Vivian Hansen
Frontenac House, 72 pages, $15.95
Reviewed by 
Barbara Black

You may think that in the age of Twitter, poets would shun the outsized proportions of a long poem. Thank goodness some don’t. Calgary writer Vivian Hansen has chosen the ideal form for exploring the interconnectivity of generations and cultural/personal identity in her narrative long poem, A Bitter Mood of Clouds.

Hansen, whose work has explored women’s issues, landscape, and immigration, creates a vast lyrical space in which to unfold the story of Anna/Arne, a hermaphroditic predecessor, who, during the Nazi occupation of Denmark, struggles with gender identity. The scope is threefold: primal, past, and present. The landscape is occupied by Nazis, Fates, ancestors, and shared dreams.

The opening lines instantly set the tone, describing Anna/Arne’s birth in the register of mythic verse. Jordemor is both midwife and the jorde-mor or mythic earthmother:

Jordemor is satisfied,
the baby’s head appearing
as a bloodied harvest moon,
...
Goddesses of disir have departed
already, shrieking

With Anna’s appearance come the Norns, pagan spirits of destiny who occupy Yggdrasil and influence human lives. They are Skyld, the future; Wyrd, the past; and Verdandi, the present. Their interpolations appear beside the main text as they observe, interfere with, and sometimes change outcomes. When the ancestors move to the new world and are severed from their culture and landscape, the Norns disappear. But they reappear at poem’s end through the narrator’s re-engagement with her past.

Hansen’s depiction of Arne and the tenderness with which his mother and family members embrace him is convincing and affecting (not polemic). His cousin Marta (the narrator’s mother), who has an affinity with supernatural/psychic phenomena, accepts him fully. When she meets the croaky-voiced “girl”:

Ham-Anna stands feral and stoney
like a hedgehog avoiding a stick …
Ham-Anna reminds her of the Norns …
… they have summoned
the source of their covenant:
it is about Kin.

The one false note, however, was the moment Arne spoke in his “own” male voice, which seemed poetically unconvincing.

I initially resisted the prosaic poems of the present, which sounded more mundane than the narrative about Arne. Without the supernatural and the “territory symbolled with swastikas,” they felt strangely eventless. But on rereading, I understood that they were essential as one of the layers in this genealogical stratum.

Throughout the work Hansen deftly weaves references to slugs—themselves hermaphrodites—their vulnerability, their resemblance to female genitalia and tongues, and their habit of leaving behind silvery trails, not unlike the faint traces of ancestors still subtly present in our lives.

With its deep sense of place (“the peculiar greenspeak of bog”), the poem builds its weight cumulatively until the separate threads weave gradually into a single, greater fabric. It’s not always easy to sustain such a momentum, but Hansen has managed it eloquently.

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    Room 40.4, Let's Make Contact
    Edited by Chelene Knight

    In this issue:

    Kate Balfour, Selina Boan, Chelsea Comeau, elaine corden, Nancy Jo Cullen, Ariel Dawn, Harjit Dosanjh, Jann Everard, Jiyoon Ha, Gili Haimovich, benjamin lee hicks, Edythe Anstey Hanen , Claire Miller-Harder, Kyla Jamieson, Amanda Kelly, Cara Lang, Ashley Little, Andrea MacPherson, Rowan McCandless, Hajer Mirwali, Barbara Rosini, Sheila Sanderson, Taylor Stewart, Anny Tang, Susanne von Rennenkampff, Aisha Walker, jia qing wilson-yang

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