From Summer to September …

September has always seemed more like a beginning than an ending for me. Sure, the days are getting shorter, and the air has taken on a bit of a chill in the evenings, but rather than and ending to a summer, it’s always been a start. Empty binders, fresh erasers, clean lockers, and new shoes were signs of a new school year. This year, like many previous, my children are of to their respective schools. Now, our youngest son is  half way through elementary, our daughter has begun high school, and our eldest  two sons … well, they’re grown, and they get to decide their own schooling.

For me, as a teacher, fall means new students (along with the worry whether there will be enough registered students to run a course), a fresh course outline with new stories pulled from familiar books. I love the excitement that students bring to each new class, believing that it will be good, not simply another course to get through. I do my best to prove them right. IMG_2006 poet's cove IMG_1863 sailing southern gulf islands salt spring Conover Cove

This fall, it seems that summer is still lingering, teasing with toasty play in the sun. Despite so much that is new and exciting about the fall, I am sad to see the long summer nights slip away, and the chill take ahold so deep that I can’t bear to cleat the sheets to my sails. So in that way it is not just a beginning, but an ending. Last weekend may well have been the farewell to our short sailing season. I’m not yet sure, still holding on hope … I’m not quite ready to winterize; after all, it is still fall.

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Room 35.4 Labours

We at Room are wrapping up our 35th volume with the Labours. We are having an anniversary party and issue launch at the Roundhouse Community Centre in Vancouver on December 9, 2012 at 3:00pm. Do check back with the website to r.s.v.p. Here is a sneak preview with the cover and editor’s letter.

EDITOR’S LETTER

Labours

LORRIE MILLER

Every issue of Room is a labour of love, and for this reason I chose labours as the theme of the final issue in our special thirty-fifth anniversary volume. The volume opened with Journey, followed by Shaping the Spark,

and Duality. Now, Labours, in all its iterations, celebrates the past thirty- five volumes in which Room’s collective members have brought to you the labour of women writers and artists.

In this issue, we present a voice from the past, from the very earliest days of Room—then Room of One’s Own—and a new collective member, a voice from our present and future. It is women just like these who have supported us in our labours, and will continue to do so in the years ahead.

With my own understanding of labour, which includes years of university, my four children (no longer all still children), home renovations projects, my teaching load, and picket-line experiences, I hoped writers and artists would push my understanding of labour even further, and they did. The submissions, in all genres, coalesced around several emergent themes: the labour of writing, conventional and unconventional work, labours of the heart—nurturing, caring, bringing life, and letting go. And in the mix of it all was the messy business of life with all its discomforts.

In researching for this issue, I turned to our archives for inspiration. There I found Eleanor Wachtel, longtime member of the collective in our very early days. We are thrilled that she granted us an opportunity to turn the table and interview her. And given our original name, Dori Luthy-Harrison’s artwork of the same title was a natural fit for the issue.

Many artists and writers, at one time or another, turn to unconventional work to support themselves. Andrea Hoff writes about her work as a nude participant in an artist-driven performance art piece. Amber Dawn, our commissioned writer, presents “Lying is the Work,” in which she turns her astute eye first inward to her experience as a sex worker, and then and then outwards to Room, to the reader, and then to society at large. The work of Bren Simmers, Janette Fecteau, and Anna Maxymiw also focuses on atypical work environments.

Our issue’s cover image, The Other Dress, by Katelyn Di Giulio, with its contrast between an Italian starlet subject and her pattern collage landscape, introduces the tension between work and identity in a shifting landscape. This dynamic is continued in the work of K.V. Skene, Kirsten Donaghey, and Susan Braley. Colleen Young takes us to an elegant and tactile moment of sewing and fitting. Amanda Schoppel continues this thinking around domestic skill and art, in the line knots of her art, in which she brings labouring detail to work that is more than a simple nod to traditional women’s handiwork; it is laborious in itself, refined in its quality, and still loose in its edges. Artist and writer, Monique Motut-Firth tells us about her yearlong art project constructed from her late grandmother’s treasures.

The jobs that women have often expected to take, domestic or service-based, are well represented in our fiction. Debra Martens, who first appeared in Room in 1987, now brings us the plight of a young waitress. Janna Payne highlights the vocal and the silent in a woman worker as she manages work and being true to herself. Vivian Demuth’s poem takes us on a metaphorical vertical wilderness journey.

Stevi Kittleson creates whimsical botanical wonders from discarded irons and pencils. Colleen Gillis takes readers into the workday of a traffic officer, and the work of the heart, caring and nurturing, comes through the fiction and poetry of Eliza Victoria, Marilyn Gear Pilling, Janet Hepburn, and Sadie McCarney.

Liz Laidlaw and Jann Everard both connect to the complexity of bringing about new life, celebrating it, acknowledging its fragility, and also letting go of life all together. The tangle of life is a knot that binds tighter as it is tugged—as there is no easy solution.

Closing this issue are two complementary pieces. Morag Hastings’s photograph The Lioness shows the power and vulnerability in the labouring of an experienced midwife who is a first-time mother. Shannon McFerran’s piece tells her own story of birth, the common miracle that has brought us all here. It is a story that many may know from their own experiences, a story that is not a radical departure, but rather a place that is tangible, real, and a time to reset perspectives on life as she comments on both endings and beginnings.

In this issue, we have a multitude of labours, with one’s hands, hearts, and minds, in typical and unexpected places. I do hope you enjoy the fruits of our collective labours!

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An epic journey with Journey: 35.1

I wouldn’t say, actually, that the journey itself was epic, but the local certainly was. This past spring break, my family and I ventured south of the 49th into Arizona to visit friends and to explore the vast wilds of  the Grand Canyon. Despite being raised on the Canadian prairies, where there is a lot of flat and dry world, despite my exposure to the rich and amazing beauty of British Columbia’s coastal rain forests and mountain ranges, nothing had prepared me for the quality of the Grand Canyon: truly epic.

Along one of our many daily hikes, I hauled out Room, 35.1 ‘Journey’ and read passages to my hiking companions. ‘Mom you’re strange…’ was only uttered once, other than that they listened and rationed water. Journey was a great read on our adventure. Hope you enjoy it too.

We also spent a few days at the Historic Kane Ranch. Amazing … quiet…

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Room Magazine 34.4 and 35.4 news

This past year has been a fantastic learning curve for me with the Growing Room Collective. I took on the role of ads coordinator and assistant editor to Amber Hitchen as she edited issue 34.4, Siblings. The cover is a stunning work, one of a series of pieces reflecting and commenting on the Dionne Quintuplets by  GeneviËve Thauvette, 2009.

 GeneviËve Thauvette, 2009

The stories, interviews, poetry and art within this issue all centre around the theme of Siblings in the broadest sense of the term. A peak into the issue and editor’s letter  is here: Room.

With the release of 34.4, and the conclusion of our 34th volume, we enter into the production of our 35th Volume. The first of issue, Edited by Clélie Rich is themed Journey. It will prove to be a lovely issue (I’ve had a sneak peek). The following two issues will include our contest issue, and an open themed issue. (Each of these issues will have themes that emerge from the submissions, contest winners, and through the editing process, but not from a prescribed call.) Concluding the 35th Volume, will be our Labour issue, 35.4, which I am editing. I am thrilled to take on this issue–labour with all its connotations. Please pass along the call below to all you think may be interested.

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS:

Room is Canada’s oldest literary journal by, and about women.

Room is a space where women can speak, connect, and showcase their creativity. Each quarter, for 33 issues, Room has been publishing original, thought-provoking works, by emerging and established Canadian women writers and artists that reflect women’s strength, sensuality, vulnerability, and wit.

Theme for 35.4: Women’s work, unionization, the work we do freely from our hearts, birthing a child into the fresh air, all of these things are connected. Room’s issue 35.4 will address and celebrate the completion of our 35th anniversary volume with the theme of Labour.

Room is looking for original, unpublished art, fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry that explore all iterations of women’s labour, from a labour of love, birth labour, the labour movement, traditional and non-traditional women’s labours—we want to see them all.

(To see what kind of work we publish, check out our current issue, 34.4, Siblings, featuring new work by Elizabeth Hay, or any recent back issue available from our website.)

Please submit to the attention of Lorrie Miller by May 30, 2012.

For full submission details (how and what to submit), go to our submission page

ADDITIONAL ART SUBMISSION INFO: send us you most engaging work. These are not images to illustrate the literature, but submissions of their own standing. Submit up to four images (maximum of 1MB sized JPG or PDF) with a short paragraph about the work of art including: the title, size, medium and date. Please include a cover letter as stated in the general submissions page (above). All art submissions should be sent to arteditor@roommagazine.com, (include submission for labour issue and your last name in the subject line).

Newsroom: to stay current with Room’s calls and events, sign-up for our newsletter.

For Queries: contactus@roommagazine.com

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Summer is gone, Fall is here, and Winter soon to follow…

For some reason it has taken me until November 2nd to come to grips with the presence of fall. I have had an explosive All Hallow’s Eve, my yard turned into a temporary cemetery, my home turned into Witch’s Inn. And that is just the start!

Then there are the children … namely my children:

He seems calm and sane enough here… but …

And then my darling daughter has taken on the persona of her favourite, rather unfortunate, childhood literary character:

 

 

 

 

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Over the Straight and into the Bay …

Silva Bay on Gabriola was our first destination out of Howe Sound. This involved crossing the Georgia Straight from Vancouver to the Southern Gulf Islands. There was only one way to see if we were up to it …

We took our good friend, a much more experienced sailor, with us. He seemed so calm–and kept saying, “this is completely normal,” in a tone that I knew it was true.

After a night at Silva Bay, we went on our own to Pirate’s Cove on DeCourcy Island, a lovely marine park established since 1966! Lots of trails for walking amid a lovely setting.

Our Catalina 30 at rest, stern tied and anchored in Pirate’s Cove.

I wish i had a wider angled lens to fit the fantastic angle from the water line … but I wasn’t about to jump back into the water just to get the picture as my camera isn’t even water resistant let alone proof.  Would go back to Pirate’s Cove in a heartbeat.

One of the things that I always enjoyed about our camping trips was the challenge to make meals with as little sand as possible, and as much flavour and nutrition as possible. Those meals over a single burner camp stove, with the light grit of shell and sand, are gladly gone when I can dip into my cooled ice-box for fresh veggies, fruit and meat. Can’t say we miss the sand.

After a night at Pirate’s Cove, we ended our long weekend away with a trip back across the straight. With steady NW winds from 10 – 15 knots and clear skies, we couldn’t have asked for better … Okay we could have, the chop grew throughout the day to a full 2m, and the wind grew to 18, topping out at 22 as we rounded Point Grey into English Bay, but just as quickly diminished to 15-17. Only in the bay did the waves cool down to a ripple. It was an intense and fantastic ride across the straight. It pushed our skills and comfort. More waves under our keel …

What you can’t see here is the whites of my knuckles gripped around the wheel as we surfed the waves. Every seventh wave seemed to be a biggie. I thought that we had a max hull speed of 6.5(ish) knots). And yet we were up to 7 – topping at 7.2 (albeit it briefly). We kept an average speed of about 6.4, or there about, with a beam reach, slowing to high fives in a broad reach as we headed into town.

The Sky was so clear that we could see Mt. Baker in the distance behind Vancouver.

 Now to plan our next weekend away …

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Our Maiden Voyage into Howe Sound

“Did you ever think that you, a prairie girl, would be sailing her own boat on the ocean,” wrote my childhood best friend on my facebook album.

Not in a million years. But then again, I haven’t lived on the prairies for over twenty years … And I’ve been next to the sea nearly as long as I lived with a horizon that went on forever and wind that went on longer than that.

This summer we became sailors. Okay, still becoming … but it has been wonderful, whether it has been simply sailing around the bay, tied up at Snug Cove, or anchored at Gambier Island.

Dinghys are for kids who won’t behave… set adrift in 0 knots of wind … they didn’t get far.

Happy weekend sailor.

Scuba Finn.

Keeping watch out front.

My handsome sailor!

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