On Healing

With poetry from Faith Arkorful, Doretta Lau, Jen Sookfong Lee, Dacy Lim, Furqan Mohamed and Jenny Elizabeth Scoones. Personal essays by Erin Klassen, Najla Nubyanluv, Elizabeth Polanco and Erin Pehlivan.

Illustrated by Maggie Li, photography by fehn foss. Art direction by Erin McPhee.

There are as many paths to healing as there are ways to be wounded, and as many unique stories as there are people. But whether pain is cultural, ancestral, familial, corporeal, romantic, or any category in between, there is a common truth: healing begins with the act of acknowledging our hurt.

Turning our most vulnerable experiences into art gives us power, strength and a better appreciation of how to care for ourselves and each other. Through making art, our pain becomes tangible, and in that way, healing can be shared.

The contributions in this collection offer a window into what healing can look like when we are brave enough to name our suffering.

Typically, humans don’t deal well with pain. We’d rather look away, pretend it isn’t bad, or find a way to “fix it” as quickly as possible. As this collection has come together I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about healing, but I’ve been thinking equally about pain. It seems to me that healing can only begin when we make our pain visible. When we become accountable to it. When we expose our wounds in order to understand them, how they have shaped us, and how we can carry on.
— On Healing

Fehn Foss

fehn foss is an image maker and writer who enjoys a good debate. A recent graduate from Ryerson University's Image Arts program, it has taken fehn six years to get a BFA: she is neither ashamed nor proud of this fact. She splits her time between Hamilton and Toronto.


Faith arkorful

Faith Arkorful’s work has been published in Hobart, Arc Poetry Magazine, Canthius, The Puritan, and more. Her poem "Vacation" was recently selected by Hoa Nguyen for inclusion in The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2018 anthology. She was born in Toronto, where she still resides.


Doretta Lau

Doretta Lau is the author of the short story collection How Does a Single Blade of Grass Thank the Sun? (Nightwood Editions, 2014). She splits her time between Vancouver and Hong Kong, where she is writing a comic novel about a dysfunctional workplace called We Are Underlings and a collection of poetry about grief.


Erin Klassen

Erin Klassen is the founder of Toronto-based publisher With/out Pretend and Editor-In-Chief of The Vault. She’s also a writer, collaborator, community-builder, and creator of the popular storytelling series Unresolved Feelings. Her written work has appeared in numerous print and online publications.



Maggie li

Maggie Li is a freelance illustrator and art director based in London. She specializes in bold, graphic illustration and a colourful palette. In addition to art directing popular children's publication OKIDO magazine, she writes and illustrates her own children's book.


jen sookfong Lee

Jen Sookfong Lee was born and raised in Vancouver’s East Side, and now lives with her son in North Burnaby. Her books include The Conjoined, nominated for International Dublin Literary Award and a finalist for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, The Better Mother, The End of East, and Gentlemen of the Shade. Jen cohosts the Can’t Lit podcast and teaches fiction at The Writers’ Studio with Simon Fraser University.



Erin McPhee

Erin McPhee is a freelance art director, designer and illustrator based in Toronto. She is the Creative Director of The Vault, and has previously worked as the Art Director of Quill & Quire Magazine, and as a contributing designer for The Medical Post, Today’s Parent, and other publications. In addition to her commercial work, she is an amateur ceramic and textile artist, and zine-maker. Her most recent zine Sex Dream (2018) is a playful reflection on queer relationships and sex.


Dacy Lim

Dacy Lim is a poet with a weird obsession with mouths. She received an MFA from Kingston University in London, and has published poems in several magazines including Selfish and Compound Butter. She has published a pamphlet of poetry titled Soft Teeth through a collaboration with Kingston Writers’ Centre and Sampson Low Publishing.



Najla Nubyanluv

Najla Nubyanluv is a queer Black playwright, actor, author, doula and the Residency Coordinator at The Watah Theatre. In 2017, her play I Cannot Lose My Mind received Individual Creation funding from Canada Council for the Arts. Najla is also the author and illustrator of the children’s book I Love Being Black (Sorplusi Press). She lives in Love and Laughter with her partner, Ranel.


Furqan Mohamed

Born and raised in Toronto, Furqan Mohamed is a student, writer, poet, and activist. As the daughter of Somali immigrants, she embraces the rich storytelling tradition passed down from her ancestors and makes it her own. Her work has appeared in the Young Voices anthology for the Toronto Public Library, Affinity Magazine, Amaliah Online, Pure Nowhere, Ephemera Magazine and others.



Elizabeth Polanco

Elizabeth Polanco is an associate editor at The Vault and a graduate of Ryerson University’s Bachelor of Design in Fashion Communication. For her graduating thesis, she created a print typographic book entitled I’m Telling You Stories, an anthology compiling interviews with seven IBWOC writers, along with her own long-form writing and visuals.


Erin Pehlivan

Erin Pehlivan is an associate editor at The Vault, and has been published in The Globe and Mail, Maisonneuve, A.Side, enRoute magazine, and more. She is the founding editor of Return Trip, a zine exploring how travel makes us feel, which is forthcoming in 2019.



Jenny Elizabeth Scoones

Jenny Elizabeth Scoones is a student of English Literature at Oxford University. As a trans woman, healing is central to her being, both emotional and physical. It was through literature that Jenny first began her journey towards redress, and through poetry that she seeks to heal both herself and the world around her.