Making Room

Forty Years of Room Magazine

Edited by Meghan Bell

Making Room: Forty Years of Room Magazine celebrates the history and evolution of Canadian literature and feminism with some of the most exciting and thought-provoking fiction, poetry, and essays the magazine has published since it was founded in 1975 as Room of One’s Own. This collection includes poems about men not to be fallen in love with, trans womanhood, the morning-after pill, the “mind fuck” of being raped by a romantic partner, and a tribute to the women who were murdered in the Montréal Massacre. In one story, a group of sexual assault survivors meet weekly and come up with a unique way to help police capture their assailant, while in another a dinner party turns to witty talk of racism, sexism, pornography, and time travel. One author recounts how she learned multiple languages in order to connect with her father, another reluctantly walks down the aisle in order to stay in Canada with the man she loves. 

For forty years, Room has created a space for diverse voices. As Amber Dawn says in her opening essay, “There is Room. We do fit.”

Contributors include Carol Shields, Audrey Thomas, Marian Engel, M. NourbeSe Philip, Carmen Aguirre, Eden Robinson, Daphne Marlatt, Dorothy Livesay, Ayelet Tsabari, Ivan Coyote, Tracey Lindberg, Sina Queyras, Evelyn Lau, Jen Sookfong Lee, Gail Anderson-Dargatz, and more. With forewords by Eleanor Wachtel and Amber Dawn, interviews with four former Room editors, and an afterword by Room’s current publisher and managing editor.

Excerpt from Amber Dawn’s Overturning Scarcity: Forty Years of Abundant Change

For the many women authors who read this, and for those readers who believe that there is an unjust bias in CanLit, you will hardly be surprised that change is occurring, because diverse writers are creating our own opportunities. The incredible thing about psychological conditioning—like the very idea of scarcity—is that we also have the capacity to learn new messages and to create change. For forty years Room has been at the forefront of this change.  

Room changed CanLit when Cyndia Cole’s groundbreaking “No Rape. No” (p. 24) was first published in the 1970s. Room has shown CanLit that women’s complex bodies are indeed a fit, with fiction like Juliane Okot Bitek’s “The Busuuti and the Bra” (p. 109) and with poems like jia qing wilson-yang’s “trans womanhood, in colour” (p. 376). Room continues to recognize that trans and non-binary gender narratives are an inherent and esteemed part of feminist literature by calling attention to Ivan Coyote’s “My Hero” (p. 195) and Lucas Crawford’s “Failed Séances for Rita MacNeil” (p. 364). By honouring work like Doretta Lau’s “Best Practices for Time Travel” (p. 388) and Eden Robinson’s “Lament” (p. 221), Room challenges tired notions that social justice and Indigenous speculative fiction are anything less than synonymous with great literature. 

As you read this anthology, you will undoubtedly regard it as a timely collection of seventy-eight exceptional literary works. Please, also take a moment to marvel at how scarcity and shame have not claimed a single page, not a single line or word of this anthology. You, dear readers, and I, and the seventy-five remarkable contributors are both teaching and learning a new message, right now. Say it with me. There is Room. We do fit. 

“So many of these writers continue to influence and inspire me. Room has done a great service by gathering them all in one must-read anthology.”
—Nancy Lee, author of Dead Girls and The Age

Eleanor Wachtel, Foreword, p.11
Amber Dawn, Overturning Scarcity: Forty Years of Abundant Change, p.13

The First Decade (1957-1987)

Leah Golob, Riding the Wave: An Interview with Room Co-Founder Gayla Reid, p.18
Founding Members, Editorial from Issue 1.1, p.22
Cyndia Cole, No Rape. No., p.24
Leona Gom, Grade Three, p.27
Sandy Frances Duncan, Was That Malcolm Lowry, p.28
Audrey Thomas, Untouchables: A Memoir, p.40
Daphne Marlatt, Musing with Mothertongue, p.55
Carole Itter, Ten Sketches, p.59
Helen Potrebenko, Hysteria, p.67
Betsy Warland, to Karen, p.68
Monique Bosco, Mooring~Bouy/Moored~Body, p.69
Dorothy Livesay, Women as Poets, p.78
Dorothy Livesay, Nothing is Private, p.80
Marian Engel, The Smell of Sulphur, p.81
Lorna Crozier, Still Life with Nude, p.91
Constance Rooke, Sea Gifts, p.92
Susan Musgrave, Sleeping Together, p.94
Erín Moure, State of Rescue, p.96
Nicole Brossard, The Face She Makes, p.98
Carolyn Smart, Straight Talking, p.102

The Second Decade (1988-1997)
Lindsay Glauser Kwan, This Is Not Chick Lit: An Interview with Editor Mary Schendlinger, p.104
Kate Braid, These Hips, p.108
Juliane Okot Bitek, The Busuuti and the Bra, p.109
Dorothy Elias & Barabara Findlay, from The Cancer Year, p.116
Mindy Hung, The Japanese rock garden I will have when I am an old woman, p.120
Vera Manuel, La Guerra, p.121
Cynthia Flood, Twoscore and Five, p.130
Barbara Findlay, helpful hints, p.143
Lynn Crosbie, VillainElle, p.146
Carmelita McGrath, Notes on the Sexual Division of Labour, p.150
Gail Anderson-Dargatz, What She Tells Them, p.152
Carol Shields, The Orange Fish, p.156
Jane Eaton Hamilton, Kiss me or Something, p.163
Wasela Hiyate, the way my mother (although first of many children) never, p.174
Su Croll, Trips to the Basement, p.176

The Third Decade (1998-2007)
Meghan Bell, Are We Feminist Enough? An Interview with Editor Lana Okerlund, p.184
Anna Humphrey, from14, as More Than Just a Number—Montréal Massacre, p.189
Ivan Coyote, My Hero, p.195
Tracey Lindberg, Love That Red, p.200
Helen Kuk, Men Not to Be Fallen in Love With:, p.204
Sina Queyras, Blue Knot, p.207
Robin Blackburn McBride, Theories, p.208
Nancy Holmes, The Adultress, Lunch, and Masturbation, p.209
Annabel Lyon, Mattie’s Husband, p.210
Junie Désil, Cup of Tea, p.218
Fiona Tinwei Lam, Shelter, p.220
Eden Robinson, Lament, p.221
Tanya Evanson, Skin of the Road, p.228
Susan Stenson, Hanging, p.229
Elizabeth Bachinsky, Skin, p.230
Christine Estima, Bolt, p.237
Anna Swanson, Morning after, p.247
Amber Dawn, Ghetto Feminism, p.248

The Fourth Decade (2008 – 2016)
Kayi Wong, Translating Intention into Action: An Interview with Room’s Former Managing Editor Rachel Thompson, p.254
Monica Pacheco, The River Phoenix Social Club, p.258
Matea Kulić, A Precise Benefit, p.267
Naoko Kumagai, Everybody Out of the Pool, p.268
Sigal Samuel, Love and Other Irregular Verbs, p.277
Ayelet Tsabari, The Marrying Kind, p.284
Jen Sookfong Lee, Even if you wanted to be good, the night would stop you, p.292
Marie Annharte Baker, Walk a Mile in Her Red High Heels, p.294
M. Nourbese Philip, Drowning Not Waving, p.295
Evelyn Lau, Face, p.305
Evelyn Lau, Brain, p.306
Evelyn Lau, Skin, p.307
Souvankham Thammavongsa, Pregnant, p.308
Devyani Saltzman, Amah, p.309
Najwa Ali, Writing, In Transit, p.317
Chimwemwe Undi, Listing, p.327
Cara-Lyn Morgan, Reading this list of names, I find myself, p.328
Kellee Ngan, As Long As You Look Hurt, p.330
Nilofar Shidmehr, Maheen’s Collage, p.336
Serena Shipp, Fishing, p.338
Chantal Gibson, Mountain Pine Beetle Suite, p.344
Rebecca Rosenblum, How to Keep Your Day Job, p.348
Amy Jones, Wolves, Cigarettes, Gum, p.355
Aislinn Hunter, And Then We Let Ourselves In, p.363
Lucas Crawford, Failed Séances for Rita MacNeil (1944-2013), p.364
Carmen Aguirre, Our Lady of San Juan River, p.368
Jia Qing Wilson-Yang, trans womanhood, in colour, p.376
Danielle Daniel, Free Fall, p.379
Doretta Lau, Best Practices for Time Travel, p.388
Alessandra Naccarato, No Comment, p.398

Cover Art
Emily Cooper, Somewhere in Between, p.400

Afterwords
Chelene Knight, The Future of Room, p.401
Meghan Bell, On the Making of Making Room, p.403