These are strange times, friends. I’m writing this editorial from my writing space in my Montreal home, more than a week after the Quebec government asked the general public to practice social distancing to slow down the spread of the coronavirus and COVID-19, the illness it causes. We are in the midst of a global pandemic and we have been inundated with new phrases and words: “social distancing”, “flattening the curve,” “self-quarantine,” “self-isolation,” “self-monitoring,” and so on. (I challenge you, dear reader, to use some of these words as a writing prompt!) I have been using the internet to keep in contact with the outside world and to keep up to date with the news yet I’ve also been doing my best to distance myself from screens and social media to spend time with my family. It’s been challenging, I admit, to find the right balance.
It’s oddly serendipitous that I chose this issue’s theme to be “Visible/Invisible” as many public spaces in Canada and around the world have become sparsely filled with people, with many of us stuck indoors. Highly visible spaces that are used to holding thousands of people like concert venues and sports stadiums are now empty. It was announced today that the Tokyo Olympics have been postponed until 2021. I have found myself browsing through countless articles (like this one from the BBC) highlighting how the world’s public spaces have emptied, and the images are certainly uncanny. We have become invisible.
With carte blanche being an online magazine since its founding, I am pleased that we can bring you our latest issue (38) online and relatively on schedule. We are thrilled to be featuring the 2019 QWF Prize for Young Writers winning piece “Head of Heaven” by François Provencher. Many thanks to our dedicated editorial team who are already used to working on our issues remotely. I hope you enjoy reading and browsing through the multiple ways that carte blanche’s editors have curated and interpreted “Visible/Invisible.”
I would like to take a moment to acknowledge some new members to our editorial team since our last issue. Please welcome Ruby Thélot, our new Photography Editor and Erin Lindsay, our new Blog Editor and Communications Manager!
Thank you, as well, to Caitlin Stall-Paquet who helped guest curate our Fiction section for this issue alongside Kasia van Schaik. We are also grateful to have had Carolin Huang join us as the inaugural 2020 QWF Fresh Pages initiative guest editor, who helped curate our poetry section alongside our Poetry Editor, Marcela Huerta. I have asked these section editors and their guest editors to help introduce the pieces they chose in relation to our theme.
It is unfortunate that the spread of the coronavirus resulted in us having to postpone our March 17, 2020 Accent Open Mic/carte blanche event as well as our Issue 38 launch originally scheduled to take place at Montreal’s Argo Bookshop on April 9, 2020. Thankfully, I do mean postponed here and not cancelled, because as soon as we are able to get together, whether it’s in person or through a special online event, we will work behind the scenes to make it happen.
Finally, I am grateful to our exceptional contributors for trusting carte blanche with their work. Please enjoy the Winter 2020 “Visible/Invisible” (38) issue of carte blanche and do let us know your thoughts.
A special thank you to those of you who are out there providing our communities with essential services and keeping us safe, from the food workers and educators having to suddenly go online to the health-care workers on the frontlines. Our hearts are full of gratitude.
Wash your hands, stay inside, and be safe. We’re all in this together.
– Greg Santos, Editor-in-Chief
Montreal, March 24, 2020