Winner of 2017 Giller Prize

Winner of 2017 Giller Prize
Michael Redhill for his novel Bellevue Square

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Happy Birthday, Room Magazine

“My aunt attended residential school,” says the young woman. “At night, she thought the dorm was full of ghosts but later, she found out the white shapes were children who were being punished for wetting the bed. They had to stand with the wet sheets draped over them.”

Another woman nods.“My grandma went to residential school,” she says. “She was four years old when they took her away.” And so the hurt and pain live on down the generations.

The conversation flowed, sparked by a story I wrote for issue 35.3 based on the life experience of a Thunder Bay Anishinabe elder who, as a child, returned to her village one day to find all the children gone, scooped up and off  to the residential school.

A number of men and women had come together in dowtown Vancouver to celebrate the launch of Room Magazine’s issue 35.3 which commemorates an amazing 35 years of publication.

 
Amber Hitchin, editor for Room issue 35.3
The name Room was taken from Virginia Woolf’s essay “A Room of One's Own.” Four times a year, the Room collective of twenty women produces an issue containing fiction, poetry, art and non-fiction all created by women. The magazine is distributed across Canada.

I was surprised to find out that Room did not have a room of its own!  Amber Hitchen, the editor for issue 35.3, explained: As volunteers, we use our own home spaces as offices and our collective meetings occur in community rooms and living rooms across Vancouver. Perhaps one day when more funds are allocated to the arts, small literary magazines such as Room will have a working space. Until then, we are creative!

 
Nailah King, Marketting
I think Room’s success is partly due to its working methods. Each issue has a different editor and assistant editor. As well, a third woman, called a shadow editor, takes part as a trainee. Thus continuity is preserved. The numerous other tasks such as marketing, distribution, web sites etc are also done by members of the collective.

Usually, each issue revolves around a theme.  Upcoming themes are “labour” and “loss.” Info on themes, submissions and subscriptions can be found at www.roommagazine.com.

Luckily, I was not far away attending the Surrey Writers’ Conference on October 22, launch day, so I was able to attend and meet my editor, Amber Hitchin, as well as fellow contributor Susan Boyd who wrote a searing piece on women and drugs.  Alas, assistant editor, Helen Polychronakos, could not be present. 

 Food, drink, conversation, meeting people, a crazy writing game, photos, a few speeches, and the evening flew along.

 Happy birthday Room Magazine and many, many More.

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