BC Poetry 2017: "Making Room: Forty Years of Room Magazine" (Room Magazine/Caitlin Press)

"Listing" by Chimwemwe Undi

in dog years, I am dead. in black years, alive.
so: exceptional, increasingly so. I ask strangers 
for directions on pocket scraps and build myself
a map home as cohesive as a litany
I am having trouble remembering.

there are too many bodies in this room built for bodies
we are magic typecast as disappearing acts. History
whispered into memories. 

and easier things:
1. the prime ministers in chronological order,
2. My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nachos,
3. the angle at which the earth leans, shaking us off like water

there is too much to say for this mouth built for praying 
there are too many names to unhear
so I don’t have to remember 
or truly, repeat to meaninglessness 
or truly, forget them, 
outrage a poor mnemonic device 

I am forgetting and that is the worst part 
I cannot hold a name long enough
to know it. even the faces are growing statistical,
the write-ups into archives. I know guilt better
than grief, as well as a restlessness, 
better than a black body breathing still


Meghan Bell is the publisher for Room magazine, and oversaw the production of Making Room from conception to completion. Making Room was collectively curated by Meghan Bell, Terri Brandmueller, Candace Fertile, Taryn Hubbard, Chelene Knight, Lindsay Glauser Kwan, Cara Lang, Alissa McArthur, Nav Nagra, Bonnie Nish, Rachel Thompson, Kayi Wong, and Lisa Xing.

Chimwemwe Undi is a poet and spoken word artist currently based in Toronto. She has performed at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word and the Edinburgh International Book Festival, and her work has been shortlisted for the 2016 Brunel University African Poetry Book Prize. Her debut chapbook, The Habitual Be, is forthcoming from University of Nebraska Press.


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.”


Arrived February 2017.


Book Launches: Done and gone in Vancouver, but it will be launching in Toronto on April 22nd!

Purchases: From the Cailtin Press website or at your local bookstore. $24.95.


By making room... duh!

The copyrights of all poems included in the series remain with their authors, and are reprinted with the permission of the publishers.

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