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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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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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ROOM 33.3 is out!

Cadwallader Creek

Lorrie Miller,

I am thrilled with the release of ROOM magazine’s latest issue.  Issue 33.3, edited by Janet Nicol, is historically themed and subtitled: Past and Present.  My copy came in the mail last week, yet I haven’t seen it on the shelves of the magazine shops and book stores.  Soon, I am told; they will be there soon. The link on the title above, will take you directly to the story as a sample from the issue!

So I thought I’d read through some of the issue before blogging about it, though I have to admit I wanted to blog right away.

Two very cool things I noted about this issue is that the featured author is Pearl Luke, author of Madame Zee, and mentor extraordinaire! When I first started writing (post PhD and post fourth/last baby) I met Pearl through UBC’s on-line writing program, Booming Ground.  She offered me fantastic critique, writing guidance and encouragement. A big public thanks to Pearl! I kept at it and keep at it!

Second very cool thing about this issue is that poet Bronwen McRae and I attended Moose Jaw’s Central Collegiate together.  Her father, poet extraordinaire (my word of the day), Robert Currie, was also my high school English Teacher!  (And a very fine English teacher, I should add.)

It was enough of a thrill to have my short story and first chapter of my novel-in-progress, Cadwallader Creek, gracing the pages of ROOM, but even much more so when I’m in the company of these two women among the other fine writers.

I hope my mom gets her copy in the mail soon as I heard a rumour that Moose Jaw no longer has a book store. I hope that isn’t true.

Buy Room Now: You can order it directly from Room’s subscriptions page. Now that issue 33.4 is out on the newsstands, you will have to order from the back issues section at the bottom of the subscription page. Just write in ISSUE 33.3. and you will get this lovely magazine delivered to you home!

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Author’s Tent At Vancouver’s Word on the Street

Besides having a whole lot of fun chatting with people who stopped by the Room Magazine tent, talking up this really amazing literary magazine, I read along with two other lovely writers who have graced the pages of Room, Casey Wolf and Ashley Little.

The three readings differed in the themes, tone and content, however they were linked with the various stages of life, from youthful naïvety, to the convictions of adulthood, to honouring and grieving the end of life.  It was an honour to read with both Casey and Ashley.

At 4:30 in the afternoon, the bustling of the day’s events had quelled to a dull roar, and fewer seats were filled than had been just an hour earlier, but with the fluttery twist of nerves in my belly, I was okay with a friendly audience even if it was a little one.

So, since some of my favourite people were not gracing the white stacking chairs, I will tell you what I said — more or less.

Lorrie’s Word on the Street talk from the Author’s Tent:

Lorrie’s word on the street talk notes:

Seventy years ago fifty-five young men went down into the belly of a gold mine and then refused to come out.  They went down over 3000 feet into the workings of Pioneer mine.  They didn’t go down to mine for gold, not that day. February 27, 1940 was the date of Canada’s first sit down strike.  They where there to exercise their rights.  They were there to avoid further violence as they’d had enough of that.

The murder of union leader, Ginger Goodwin was still fresh in people’s memories, and so they were scared.  It had only been five years since the Battle of Ballantyne Pier where police gassed and beat demonstrators, and helped employers to run the waterfront with scab labour.   They still had good reason to not trust management, nor the police.  Premier Patullo was moved by this act of union defiance to send in 80 police into Pioneer war ready with gas and machineguns.  The area was described as being hills of khaki.

The first time I heard about this time, I was hooked. Though it was legal in 1940 for the men to organize, to form unions and to meet and negotiate with them, it was still resisted by many companies to the point that management would conduct surprise searches of homes looking for union membership lists.  It had gotten so bad that the wives of the organizers would carefully wrap the lists in wax paper, fold them up and then bury them deep of the swill of diaper pails.

You won’t find that fact in any union minutes, or telegraph, or other letter carefully filed in the archive fonds.  But I believe it was so, because my husband’s grandmother was one such woman, and it was she that retrieved the lists once the coast was clear, and it was her husband, Bill Cameron, that led the miners to their sit-down, and kept them hopeful that the strike would settle, that the ventilation wouldn’t be filled to gas them out, it was he, apparently that kept the men from blasting the mine to bits in retaliation for the beatings that they’d suffered.

Graham, my husband had been told by his grandmother about the strike, and how she had been on the surface holding the picket line with other miners, and other wives, waiting for negotiations to settle, waiting for the men to emerge.

This is what inspired me to write this story, Cadwallader Creek that will be published in the upcoming issue (issue 33.3) of Room Magazine.  It is also the first chapter of my novel-in-progress.

The one issue that I came up with this story is how do you write about your mother-in-law, and I came up with my answer, and that is to completely fictionalize it.  And that is what I’ve done.  Although the events accurate and the struggles are real, the characters are not; they are representative of character types of the time.

I spent a fair amount of time at the UBC archives reading historic minutes of union meetings, telegrams from government officials, judgments from magistrates, arrest warrants and personal letters; all this was revealing and interesting, but what I failed to find other than the fleeting reference in between the lines were the voices of the women.

One line in on particular interesting set of union minutes thanked the ‘fiery red-head’ for her efforts on the picket line.  There was family housing in the company residences and so presumably that included women.  In a local newspaper, there was an advertisement for women’s fitness class at the community hall, and so I know that there were women there, but what they thought about the strike, what their personal struggles and stories remain a bit of a mystery.

After searching more, I learned of British Columbian author, Irene Howard, who grew up in Pioneer, generously shared with me her interview tapes from some women who’d lived there in the early days.  Their descriptions are in her book, ‘Gold Dust on his Shirt,’ the tales of Scandinavian immigrant life in the beginning of the 20th century in Gold Bridge area, BC.  These accounts were most helpful in gaining insight to their experiences.  Though few of them discussed the strike at all, but I learned that kitchen cabinets could be constructed with the fine mitered dynamite crates, and that everyone had a silver tea service for hosting tea, even if they lived in a reclaimed pioneer cabin, it was just what one did, even if it meant laying out the tea service on a hewn table with an oil cloth canvas for the tablecloth.

These were great details, but I wanted to learn more about the strike, about what it was like to be afraid of your home being fire-bombed, to have your blankets stolen in the night to wake you up to toss you out of the residences in December, to wonder if your husband will make it out of the mine alive when the timbers failed and everyone above ground knew there’d been an accident, but didn’t yet know who’d been killed.  And more, I wondered about the struggle between the social classes, so I brought one of the two central characters from a privileged life and tossed her into the grand mix of it all—into the turmoil and struggle in these early days of the labour movement in BC.

And so this is where my story begins– on the picket line.

——————-

To Read my  short story, Cadwallader Creek, pick up a copy of Room Magazine at Chapters (I think), but your best bet is to subscribe on line!;)

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