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The Art of Asking with Nav Nagra, Publisher of Room Magazine

On March 11th, Room Magazine is hosting its fourth annual literary and arts festival celebrating diverse Canadian writers and artists, Growing Room. The festival was created in commitment to deepen learning about inclusion and accessibility, both within the systemic structures of the festival and the creative curation. Growing Room is a celebration, a protest, a reflection, a re-visioning, a gathering, a question, and a dream.

Nav Nagra, who was recently appointed as the new publisher of Room Magazine is no stranger, having been a collective member since 2014 holding various roles. Her passion for the publishing industry has taken her through various initiatives and organizations throughout the province including consultancy with Breathing Space Creative, serving on the board of Vancouver Art Book Fair and the Professional Development Committee of AFP Vancouver.

We speak to Nav about her journey with Room Magazine and multi-disciplinary skills that have afforded her a wealth of experience in British Columbia’s publishing industry.

 

 

Tell us a little about yourself, your work and Room Magazine.

I’m a first-generation Canadian and I feel like this and the culture I was raised within really informed my interest in storytelling. Most of my life was spent living in a multi-generational house with a Grandmother who loved sharing stories and quite frankly, gossip and I think those interactions made me want to become a storyteller. I made sure my education was always centered around books and writing and then shortly before I graduated from university, I found out about Room Magazine and inquired about getting involved with the magazine. I started at Room Magazine in 2014 as the Advertising Coordinator, moved onto our Editorial roster and now am extremely humbled to be Publisher. I have published a few small pieces of poetry and hope this year will bring about a lot more writing for me.  I’m also currently working on what I hope will be a novel.

 

For those who may not be familiar with B.C.’s magazine publishing industry, what are your thoughts on the ever-evolving landscape? What does the future of magazine publishing look like?

I think the future of magazine publishing will see magazines appearing on more than one platform in more than one format. We’re seeing it now with magazines starting podcasts, YouTube channels, and other types of audience engagement. I don’t think print is dead and I may be naive in thinking so, but I don’t see print going anywhere for a while. I do think that magazines need to be a bit nimble going forward and work towards becoming as digitally accessible as possible while maintaining a print presence.

 

What were the early days of your career like? How did you get to where you are now?

The early days of my career were really formed by me asking a lot of questions and finding ways of getting involved in editorial work. I have an accidental art history background and this led to my work at an art gallery and creating artist catalogues for emerging and established artists. I was almost rabid in my university days trying to find any publication that would allow me to write an article or blog post about pretty much anything. As I moved within my career, I always made sure that I could do something that would bolster my editing abilities and allow me to write. I guess I am where I am now because I would always say yes and then scope out the next opportunity. And though I acknowledge that not everyone has the privilege of doing this, I am very glad I was able to.

 

What inspires you as a creator?

I am very inspired by music and movies. I love reading but I find that I am so baffled by the talent of the writers I read that I never feel I can create such amazing works so I take the emotions I feel from movies and music and translate that into my writing and other creations. My influences change so quickly it’s really hard to narrow it down. Right now, I would say from a writing standpoint, I am most inspired by Carmen Maria Machado, Roxane Gay, and Chelene Knight. Oh! And Fleabag – I found so much inspiration from that show.

 

 

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?

Ask questions! The art of asking is real and if you’re able to, ask lots of questions. One thing that I like to do if I’m interested in a certain aspect of the industry is I ask if I can go to coffee with someone just to find out how they got where they are or if they have any advice. For the most part, folks are more than happy to sit down with someone to share some wisdom. I know that I would not be where I am if I hadn’t just asked.

 

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

As of now, it’s definitely becoming the Publisher of Room Magazine. If you had asked me in 2014 where I thought my path would lead with Room, I would have never thought I would end up as Publisher. I am so humbled in my role and by the team at Room.

 

Are there any upcoming events or initiatives in the pipeline for Room Magazine?

Yes! Our Growing Room literary and arts festival is happening in Vancouver from March 11th – 15th and features so many amazing artists and writers. You can find out more and get your tickets at festival.roommagazine.com.

 

Visit Room Magazine’s website for more information.

Michael Neill and Arsenal Pulp Press Named 2019 ABPBC Award Recipients

Yesterday evening the Association of Book Publishers of British Columbia (ABPBC) honoured the recipients of two awards recognizing outstanding contributions to British Columbia’s publishing industry. Vancouver’s Arsenal Pulp Press received the Jim Douglas Publisher of the Year Award, and Kelowna-based Michael Neill, bookseller and owner of Mosaic Books and TBM Bookmanager, received the Gray Campbell Distinguished Service Award. The recipients were honoured at the annual Book Publishing Conference in Vancouver on February 13, 2020.

The Jim Douglas Publisher of the Year award is presented to an active British Columbian book publishing company that has in recent times earned the respect and applause of the community of publishers for a specific publishing project, an extraordinary contribution to the B.C. publishing community, and/or its extended commitment to excellence in publishing. This year’s recipient, Arsenal Pulp Press, started in 1971 as an alternative small press specializing in literature and politics. They have evolved over the past decades to become one of Canada’s leading independent presses, specializing in LGBTQ literature, books by writers of colour, graphic novels, books on cultural issues, and literary fiction. Some of Arsenal Pulp Press’ recent notable works include Aaron Chapman’s Vancouver After Dark, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha’s Care Work and Louis-Georges Tin’sThe Dictionary of Homophobia, a personal favourite of Brian Lam, founder and owner of Arsenal Pulp Press.

The Gray Campbell Distinguished Service Award is presented annually by the Association of Book Publishers of BC to an individual or individuals who have made a significant contribution to the book publishing industry in the province. Named for the pioneering publisher and founder of Gray’s Publishing, the Gray Campbell Award recognizes the importance of the many individuals who comprise the book industry; their energy and creativity are essential to the continued creation and dissemination of books that tell our stories. This year’s recipient is Michael Neill, founder and president of Bookmanager and owner of Okanagan’s largest independent bookstore, Mosiac Books. Bookmanager is a leader and invaluable point-of-sale provider that has provided bookstores across North America the ability to advance their services

For more updates on the BC Book Publishing Conference visit ABPBC’s website.

Arsenal Pulp Press
Book Manager
Mosaic Books

Galiano Island Books’ Top 10 Books of 2019

Right around the corner from the exit of the Galiano ferry terminal sits the first independent bookstore of the island, Galiano Island Books. Since its opening in 1997, the storefront has remained the heart of the island’s arts and culture community. Owners and avid-readers, Lee Trentadue and Jim Schmidt share their top 10 reads of the year.

 

 

Greenwood by Michael Christie

From the award-winning author of If I Fall, If I Die comes a propulsive, multigenerational family story, in which the unexpected legacies of a remote island off the coast of British Columbia will link the fates of five people over a hundred years. Cloud Atlas meets The Overstory in this ingenious nested-ring epic set against the devastation of the natural world.

 

An Earthling’s Guide to Outer Space by Bob McDonald

Beloved science commentator Bob McDonald takes us on a tour of our galaxy, unraveling the mysteries of the universe and helping us navigate our place among the stars.

 

Taking Measures by George Bowering

Taking Measures includes work from each of the last six decades, beginning with Bowering’s engagement with process-based long poems in the 1960s and 1970s and moving through his continued exploration of the form in recent decades.

 

Gather: A Dirty Apron Cookbook by David Robertson
Bestselling chef David Robertson, of The Dirty Apron Cooking School, is back with a stunningly designed book of new recipes for the home cook and the whole family. The Dirty Apron Cooking School has taught thousands of Canadians to cook. In this anticipated follow-up to his bestselling Dirty Apron Cookbook, David Robertson’s latest book celebrates the simple pleasures of cooking food for friends and family.

 

Cedar and Salt: Vancouver Island Recipes by Emily Lycopolus

Homegrown, modern recipes that feature the most treasured local ingredients from Vancouver Island’s forests, fields, farms and sea. Off the shore of Canada’s west coast lies a food lover’s island paradise. Vancouver Island’s temperate climate nurtures a bounty of wild foods, heritage grains, organic produce, sustainable meats and artisan-crafted edible delights. This thoughtfully curated, beautifully photographed cookbook brings Vancouver Island’s abundant food scene into the kitchens of home cooks everywhere.

 

Under Occupation by Alan Furst

From “America’s preeminent spy novelist” (The New York Times), Alan Furst, comes a fast-paced, mesmerizing thriller of the French resistance fighters working secretly and bravely to defeat Hitler.

 

 

Morning Glory on the Vine by Joni Mitchell

A gorgeous compendium of Joni Mitchell’s handwritten lyrics and drawings, originally handcrafted as a gift for a select group of friends in 1971 and now available to the public for the first time. In 1971, as her album Blue topped charts around the world, Joni Mitchell crafted one hundred copies of Morning Glory on the Vine as a holiday gift for her closest friends. For this stunningly beautiful book, Joni hand-wrote an exquisite selection of her own lyrics and poems and illustrated them with more than thirty of her original pictures. Handcrafted, signed, and numbered in Los Angeles, the existing copies of this labor of love have rarely been seen in the past half-century.

 

Fishes of the Salish Sea by Theodore Pietsch and James Wilder Orr

Fishes of the Salish Sea is the definitive guide to the fishes of Puget Sound and the Straits of Georgia and Juan de Fuca. Featuring striking illustrations of the Salish Sea’s 260 fish species by noted illustrator Joseph Tomelleri, this comprehensive three-volume set details the ecology and life history of each species, and recounts the region’s rich heritage of marine research and exploration.

 

Lampedusa by Stephen Price

From the #1 nationally bestselling author of By Gaslight, a novel of exquisite emotional force about love and art in the life of one of the great writers, reminiscent of Colm Tóibín’s The Master, or Michael Cunningham’s The Hours. In sun-drenched Sicily, among the decadent Italian aristocracy of the late 1950s, Giuseppe Tomasi, the last prince of Lampedusa, struggles to complete the novel that will be his lasting legacy, The Leopard. With a firm devotion to the historical record, Lampedusa leaps effortlessly into the mind of the writer and inhabits the complicated heart of a man facing down the end of his life, struggling to make something of lasting worth, while there is still time.

 

The Innocents by Michael Crummey

From bestselling, award-winning author Michael Crummey comes a sweeping, heart-wrenching, deeply immersive novel about a brother and sister alone in a small world. A brother and sister are orphaned in an isolated cove on Newfoundland’s northern coastline. Their home is a stretch of rocky shore governed by the feral ocean, by a relentless pendulum of abundance and murderous scarcity. Still children with only the barest notion of the outside world, they have nothing but the family’s boat and the little knowledge passed on haphazardly by their mother and father to keep them.