Tag Archives: literary events

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.




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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The Word on the Street 2010: National Book and Magazine Festival

The Word on the Street, WOTS, for short, is a big literary deal.  It is a one day festival, held simultaneously in Vancouver, Saskatoon, Kitchener, Toronto and Halifax.  Word on the Street is an all ages free event featuring some up and coming literary types as well as some seriously big-hitters, you know the rock’n-rollers of the book world.  And all that being said, I will be there reading! This is my first ever reading gig.  Sure, I read every week to my adult class of English students, as we go through the stories of Canadian writers like, Margaret Lawrence, Michael Ondaatje, and Gail Anderson-Dargatz, but rarely, if ever, do I read them work of my own.  This is what I will be doing Sunday, September 26th at 4:30 pm at the Author’s tent.  I will read from Cadwallader Creek, the first chapter from my novel in progress (yet to be named). It will be published in the next issue of Room.  I have to admit that I am a tad nervous, but with the right number of Yogi breaths, I’m sure I’ll be alright.

Hope to see some friendly faces there.  I’ll let you know how it went.

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Word on the Street

It was a beautiful Sunday morning at Library Square in downtown Vancouver.  The day couldn’t have been better for Word on the Street.  My sweater stayed unbuttoned, and I carried my son’s jacket.  When we first arrived, I bought a bookbag and we set off on  our scavenger hunt for ‘free stuff.’  My daughter repeated througout the morning, ‘Look, there’s some more free stuff.’  It didn’t seem to matter if it was a bookmark, a hardcovered illustrated childrens book, a fridge magnet, or a literary magazine, my daughter and her friend couldn’t get enough.  My little son, Finn, tuckered out about two hours into the event after he had is moment of fame on stage telling a knock-knock joke to hundreds of people for the amazing prize of a single serving of Cheerios. (No, I don’t buy them, and yes, he thought that this was a great treat.)  He told one of his favourite jokes: interrupting cow… it goes like this:


Q: who’s there?

A: interrupting cow,

Q: interrupting cow… (before who is said)

A: mooooo (timing is critical on this one)

He always laughs at this one.  He’s well rehearsed in the timing.

We found our way into the Kid’s tent to listen to a wonderful story where we listened to Angela Deery weave a terrific tale of a man named Fionn. (also sounds like Finn).  Well, it was marvelous.  It had giants, and trickery, and bravery and oat-cakes  filled with stones, all such things that a five-year-old, could want. And the main character shared his name.  Finn went up to Angela, who seemed familiar to me, and asked for clarification on the name in her story.  They spoke and then Angela said, “I know you.”

We looked all at each other.  She looked squarely at Finn.  And Finn peeked out from behind his bright red glasses.  Then she said, “I’m your neighbour across the lane.  I’m the lady with the big dog.”  We all had a little laugh, all things being out of context.  Now I know.



At another table, we were humming and hawing over some books when the woman behind the table looked up at my daughters friend, and said, ‘Mia, it’s you. How are you? For you, you can have a poster and a book if you like.”  She was also Mia’s neighbour…. small world.

I tried to see my new friend and work colleague, author Cathleen With, at the author’s stage, but it conflicted with Finn’s stage debut…  Sorry Cathleen!  Glad the microphone worked for you!

Well done everyone at Word on the Street!

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