Collective Reflections breaks down barriers

While the weather was hinting towards spring, the Tea Room also took last Wednesday to give a reminder of positive things ahead.

The Tea Room hosted the launch party for the Volume 4 of Collective Reflections, an anti-oppressive publication about feminism, anti-racism, queer identity, anti-poverty, mental health, and (dis)ability. The collection was first put together in 2012 and is comprised of six unique sections: Queen’s Feminist Review, CultureSHOCK, OutWrite, HeadsUp, Able, and BaseLine which is appearing for its first time in Volume 4. 

Stepping into the Tea Room, I was greeted by blue, orange and red balloon decorations and the glow of warm twinkly lights by which to read the free publication each attendee received. 

Once I’d gotten my complimentary tea and settled in to a spot by the window, Collective Reflections Editor in Chief, Rylan A. McCloskey, welcomed us all and introduced Stophe Foster, a contributor to the mental health section, HeadsUp. 

With bravery and poise, Foster told the story of his struggles with psychosis in his twenties and his eventual diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. He read two of his pieces from the collection, ‘Life in a Plagued Mind (Schizophrenia)’ and ‘If Milk Cartons Could Talk’. His powerful poems set the tone for the open conversations and self-expression that lay ahead. 

Throughout the evening, I spoke with contributors and fans of the collection, as well as students doing anti-oppressive work on campus and beyond. 

One piece of artwork that stood out to me as exemplifying the collection was a piece by Morganne Blackwell. Her artwork is mostly collage-like pieces incorporating keywords into the background. The focus of her work Acceptance is an illustrated pair of eyes, complete with messy fringe and bold eyebrows. The words ‘love’, ‘believe’, and ‘acceptance’ decorate the borders of the image in a spiral pattern. Smaller images of children’s eyes squinting  into the sunlight are interspersed with hand-drawn hearts. Blackwell perfectly captures the calm and nurturing vibe of the poem ‘To Thelma from Louise’ on the opposite page. 

The night was a celebration of all the editors’ and contributors’ hard work, and after spending some time with the collection, I can say it was well-deserved. The time and emotional labour put into the collection is evident and the pieces made me laugh, cry and nod in agreement.

Collective Reflections is a unique and important publication to have on Queen’s campus. The writing and art work are sometimes heartbreakingly honest and expose the reader to experiences and important conversations not openly discussed elsewhere. 

I left the event with hope about the future of anti-oppressive work on Queen’s campus and beyond — a feeling that only grew as I read through the collection. 

I’m looking forward to Volume 5. 

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