Our featured writer in this issue is poet Lorna Crozier, whom Margaret Laurence calls “a poet to be grateful for” and Ursula Le Guin calls a “truth-teller, visionary”. One of my favourite early Crozier poems is “The Weather” from The Garden Going on Without Us. The poem closes with the lines “Even our faith in seasons / is misplaced. A hand moves across / a pencil drawing of the world / and smudges everything.” Much of the work in this issue of Room is about our faith, misplaced or otherwise, in the natural elements of our world. From Carey Ann Schaefer’s striking cover study of Hurricane Katrina, to Lorna Crozier’s opening poems, to Karyn’s closing piece reflecting on the weather patterns of relationships, seasonal changes are at the heart of many of these pieces. Poets Heather Simeney MacLeod, Susan Young, and Valerie Laub take on the promise of spring that is inherent in winter, Trisha Cull’s plums evoke the long nights of summer, and the dogs of Diane Tucker and Michelle Barker drag their owners happily through all the weathers of the year.
However, we cannot always bend every piece within an issue to a single theme. To do so would mean missing such memorable characters as Madeline Sonik’s Tanushri and Angela Long’s prince/musician and princess/poet, the watchful, guardian women of Rose Hamilton-Gottlieb and Kerry Clare, and Patricia Westerhof’s protagonist who no longer recognizes the face of her God.
Choosing the art for an issue of Room is always an interesting process for me, and it’s a delight when the art clicks. Carey Ann Schaefer’s images of Hurricane Katrina are a stark reminder of the potential devastation that nature can achieve, and a reminder, too, of the length of time it can take us to recover from that devastation. I was very happy to find Julie Beugin’s velvet room and the importance it places on books. And when Room celebrated its thirtieth birthday in 2007 in Vancouver’s Centre A gallery, the wonderful art that surrounded the readers and the audience, and which added an extra dimension to our party, was by Bernadette Phan, and her collaborator Sally Lee.
The first issue of Room‘s year always features our contest winners. Ivan Coyote awarded penny k-kilthau’s piece “The Sum of Beth” first place for fiction and Wendy Brandts’ “Burning Years” second place. Poetry judge Evelyn Lau chose “Gabriel” by Lesley Pasquin and “The Tulip Tree” by Patricia Young as first- and second- place winners respectively. And for the first time, we added a creative non-fiction category, which was judged by Rita Moir. The first prize goes to “Seasonal Employment” by Nancy Pawelek, and second prize to “Newfoundlesbian” by Shannon Webb-Campbell. Our congratulations to all the winners—we hope you will enjoy reading their pieces. And, for the writers among our readers, start thinking ahead to our 2009 contest. Deborah Campbell, winner of the 2008 Dave Greber Freelance Writers Award, will judge creative non-fiction; Sachiko Murakami, a nominee for the 2008 Governor-General’s Award for poetry, will judge poetry; and Mary Borsky, whom The New Quarterly describes as one of the best-loved living Canadian writers, will judge fiction for us. Check our website for contest details (where you can also read the entries that received Honourable Mentions this year).
Whether you are still in the grip of winter or have moved forward into the great expanse of spring and summer, we hope you will enjoy this issue. Let us know what you think. We like to hear from you, just as much as we believe that you like to hear from us.
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