Some millennium markers are more important than others.
The year 2000 marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the West Coast Feminist Literary Society. Incorporated in 1975, the Society had an innovative idea—to pro mote the writing by, for and about women in a magazine. Room o f One’s Own. Happily, while the original Society’s members—the volunteers who edit and pub lish the magazine—have changed many times, their publication has endured and. indeed, matured. Today’s Room is not only celebrated as Canada’s oldest feminist literary journal, it’s also a well respected and a well read venue for its contributors. Of course, the Society has had lots of help along the way. including the support of The Canada Council, the BC Arts Council, the literary community and. especially.
Room readers. On behalf of the women writers and artists of North America, our thanks go out to all.
While the Room volume numbers won’t reach their silver anniversary until next fall, in the more than 90 issues published by the Society so far. the magazine has celebrated the literature of nearly a thousand North American women. And among those women, there are many who have gone on to achieve international success. Just a small sampling of names that have found their early voices in our pages include Carol Shields. Audrey Thomas. Joan Givner. Lorna Crazier and also the late Dorothy Livesay. who passed away last year.
But Room has always been fortunate in being able to attract good writing and this issue is no exception. We are especially delighted to be able to present the winning work of our “Women as Artists in the Millennium’ contest. We received a wonderful selection of good submissions, so our two judges had to make difficult decisions. Their first criterion, however, was to make their selections only from those submissions that reflected our theme as laid out in our rules. The end result was that their choices were limited to three winning poetry entries, but only one for fiction. Honours go to Kimberlee Ashby’s “A Woman in Blue Reading a Letter by Vermeer.” as our first-prize poetry winner; Susan McCaslin’s “Those Who Make Poetry with Their Lives” as second-place poetry winner; Kate Braid’s “Blue” as our third winner for poetry; and Jerri Jerreat’s “The Artist” as our only fiction
While all the entries were read by the Editorial Board members, for the final judging we called upon our longtime friend and former Editorial Board member, CI6lie Rich, and a new friend and, happily, now a new Collective member, Lisa Manfield. CIelie. who perused our poetry, is herself a poet and editor. Her chap- book, In AH Her Rooms, won the 1994 Hawthorne Poetry Award. She is one-fifth of Quintet whose first book. Quintet Themes & Variations, was published by Ekstasisin 1998.
Lisa, our fiction judge, is the editor of REALM magazine. Canada’s first national magazine about careers and entrepreneurship for youth. With an extensive back ground in writing, editing and publishing, Lisa has worked for YES Canada-BC Publishing for the past four years developing career planning and labour market publications, including Career Paths and Motiv8 youth newspapers and webzines.
We’re sure you will enjoy their choices, as well as the outstanding contributions of our other writers, whose work is showcased within our recently expanded num ber of pages.
If you are a regular “Roomie,” then you’ve noticed this issue’s new look. For the sixth time in her long history, the old girl has received a makeover, both inside and out. Award-winning Vancouver graphic designer Cathy Smith has lent her special skill to the job, providing the magazine with a fresh, contemporary-looking mast head and cover design that truly honours the work of our artists. Cathy’s redesign of the inside pages offers a modern, airy layout that should hot only ensure ease of reading, but enhance the enjoyment of our writers’ efforts. We’re thrilled with our new look and hope you are too. Let us know what you think.
Twenty-five years is a long time for a magazine with such a unique focus to endure. It’s kind of like that child’s cutout game where a small rectangle of paper is folded again and again, and then the shape of a dolly is cut into it in such a way that when the paper is finally unfolded, a long line of hand-holding dollies stretch out, connected as segments, from one end to the other. So, there’s been a long line of women, connected in their desire to serve the female community, passing their energy along from one to another to ensure the continuation of what they perceive as an important endeavour.
Here’s to another quarter-century of holding hands.
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