“F” Words

When we first saw Devyani Saltzman’s photograph portraying three young women in Mumbai, we instinctively knew we had a cover. This image expresses so much of what has been going on behind the scenes at Room Magazine over the past year.

We began this issue, and our year, with a central question: “Do women still need a room of their own?” Or has feminism become the new “F” word—too divisive to be associated with a magazine that celebrates women writers and artists. This image, and the accompanying interview with its creator, gives us fresh hope. Together they broaden our idea of the “F” word. F is for friendship; for future; for fresh; for fun. And yes, for feminism. All ideals Room firmly believes still matter to women today; concepts so beautifully expressed in this photograph.

So where exactly has feminism landed in the new millennium? How do we define it? What role does it play in the lives of modern-day women? And ultimately, is Room still needed as an outlet for women’s creative expression? As our editorial collective met to ponder these questions, we realized we needed to create a dialogue and open a discussion to help us find our way toward the answers. We had no doubt that Room is still an essential medium for the development of women writers and artists, but we wanted to involve more women in the conversation. And thus began the first in a series of changes we have implemented with this first issue of our momentous 30th volume. Doesn’t everyone make a few changes when they turn 30?

You’ll notice new sections: letters in The FrontRoom, topical Q&As in The BackRoom, reader profiles in Roommate, and our new interview section.

This issue also features our 2006 contest winners: fiction frontrunner Rhonda Collis, and poetry winners Myrna Garanis and Grace Cockburn. Two honourable mentions in the fiction category can be read online, and don’t forget to get us your entries for this year’s contest by May 15.

Finally, you’ve probably noticed that we’ve changed our name. The legacy of Room of One’s Own lives on in its new, shortened form, both alluding to our past and looking forward to a future in which we continue to reflect women’s points of view. Truly a space of your own.

Now it’s your turn to enter the dialogue. We invite you to post your thoughts on this issue: the changes we’ve made editorially, the viewpoints we’ve presented on the theme, and the works that may have resonated with you the most. Send your comments and we’ll share them in The FrontRoom.

Cover Artist’s Statement:
I’ve always been drawn to photographing people. It started with admiring the works of Diane Arbus, Lee Miller, and war photographer Don McCullin. Whether it was a child crying in Central Park or soldiers in Hue, images of people seemed to make the world more clear, more manageable. My first camera was a hand-me-down Canon F-1. I shoot on Fuji Velvia, and have always worked with colour film.

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