Multi- or at least bilingualism is a given in Quebec, and identifying a common language is often the starting point of an everyday interpersonal exchange—will this person speak English? will this person speak French? what will the implications be of prioritizing one language over the other? And, in contrast, imagine the consistent delight of hearing, speaking, reading, and integrating an international heterogeneity of languages, beyond the official English and French, that reside all around us. While retaining its English-language focus, this brand new, summer 2018 Issue 33 of carte blanche celebrates linguistic diversity, particularly in light of being based in Montreal, Quebec. This issue showcases a handful of exceptional authors’ reactions to relationships between languages—the joys of multilingualism, the creative potential of language slippage, the complexities of language acquisition, the inventive scope of neologism, and much more.
Relevantly, this issue has a strong translation section, featuring a Chiac poem by Paul Bossé rendered in English by Sarah MacNeil—Chiac being, of course, an Acadian French vernacular that seamlessly absorbs influences from both English and Indigenous languages. Also exciting is a decontextualized transcription of plates from the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead.This is the first issue that carte blanche decided to place its translation content in a separate section, highlighting the fact that it is one of only a few literary journals that consistently publishes work in translation across languages and genres.
Further highlights of this issue include a long poem by multilingual poet and translator Oana Avasilichioaei, a poem that breaks open and refurbishes words, restructures etymology, and is, to quote her, “shadowed and hounded by French and Latinate sense and sensory structures”; Avital Gad-Cykman’s short story “The Dawn of Our Competition History” humorously imagines the ramifications of creating a new language that only one man understands; Marcos Gonsalez’s essay “Grow Up, Pedro” investigates the real-life struggles of learning and living in two languages; he writes, “Words zigzag in my brain with no pattern to their movements. I speak and I don’t know exactly how these words are forming, how the meaning is coming across, if I am articulating myself at all.” Whereas the intentional dismantling of language in, for example, a poem can be an intricately pleasurable experience to read, distrusting the capacity of self-expression through language in everyday life is a sociological nightmare that needs to be exposed, decoded, and reconfigured.
Finally, I want to thank the team of carte blanche editors—with the recent addition of Tess Liem and Jen Ferguson—for being so committed, hardworking, both creative and critical in their thinking, and dedicated to publishing a consistently inspiring and diverse selection of new literature. Each outstanding issue of carte blanche is only possible due to the time and energy devoted by its editorial board.
—Klara du Plessis, Editor-In-Chief