Editor’s Note: Issue 40

Greg Santos’s Editor’s Note: Issue 40, “Blank Page”

As I ponder this editorial, I find myself looking outside at my neighbourhood’s trees, glazed with icing-like snow and am bolstered by the afternoon’s light bouncing off everything. The scene reminds me of Bill Watterson’s final Calvin and Hobbes strip from 1995, where fresh snow is described by Hobbes the tiger like “having a big white sheet of paper to draw on!” I find this blank space of a new year to be appropriate for our milestone 40th issue.

Rather than focus on a theme as we have been doing over the last few years, we wanted to follow the spirit of our name, carte blanche, and offer a welcoming “blank page” for writers and artists to contribute to this issue with whatever was on their minds. As we like to say, there are many ways to tell a story.Read more →

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. Read more →

“Borders. They can separate and define geographical locations and boundaries. Borders can be literal or invisible to the eye. Politics, language, ideology, philosophy, poetics, religion, family, sexuality, culture, all of these ideas exist within and without borders. What happens when we cross a border? When we step outside our comfort zones or are made to check a box? What happens when we leave it blank?”

This summer we put out a call for writers and artists to consider the above words for our final issue of 2019 and my fellow editors and I we were so very pleased by the results. We invite you to step over the divide and immerse yourselves in the pieces found in this new issue of carte blanche, which take on the theme of “Borders” in a multitude of ways: In her sensual audio piece “We Kept On Making Love”, Moe Clark envisions the borders of our bodies and what happens when they melt away into the other, dissolving into a bounty of animals, spirits, and dreams. Or in Mona Awad’s “Monster”, an unnerving feminist modern fairy tale continuously tugs at the edges of our expectations. Natalie Wee’s poem “Frequent Flyer Program” takes on immigration, diaspora, and the divide between the heavens, land, and sea. Read more →

A friend recently told me that the word empathy can be etymologically traced back to a German construct connected to the experience of consuming art. That is, standing in front of a work of art, really engaging with it, is like the empathetic ability to share and understand the feelings of another human entity. I’m not sure whether this etymology is, in fact, true, but I do love considering it, especially in view of Issue 36 of carte blanche, thematically undergirded by Empathy. Read more →

I grew up between two polarities: on the one hand, anxiety of influence, the necessity to seem utterly independent as an artist, to somehow divorce oneself from the progress of predecessors, to have a voice so completely, starkly unique; on the other hand, emulation of influence, the mistrust of own creative impetus, the drive to find another’s voice and try to copy and embody it, the need to disown personal force in favour of what has been done. Of course, both these examples are extremes and there is a beauteous middle ground, which I might call the generosity of influence. For me, influence is an acknowledgement of the work peers and predecessors are doing or have done; it is a move from isolated work into conversation between works; it is collaboration, communication, and credit; it is the strength which also drives new work to be produced, which creates a climate conducive to risk and creative exploration. Read more →

Despite the genre categories to the right differentiating fiction from poetry, translation from comics and creative non-fiction, this Fall issue 34 of carte blanche aims to expand the fixity of such literary markers. Jay Ritchie’s piece “Just 8 Men Own Same Wealth As Half The World”—officially categorized as fiction—alternates between verse and prose. In contrast, the poetry section includes Alexandra Dillard’s prose poem “I Feel So Uneasy About,” combining a nostalgic lyrical openness with what resembles the customary paragraph structure of fiction.

Beyond genre cross-pollination, this issue also includes a number of interdisciplinary works, and especially visual material. Gary Barwin’s visual poems brighten up the issue with colourful typographic designs; Kaie Kellough’s poem “Bow” (currently on the carte blanche 3Macs/Raymond James shortlist!) positions a flowing, almost musical image—completed in collaboration with LOKI—between portions of text; both Jane Gatensby‘s short story “On Dorchester Boulevard” and Alexa Sonnefeld’s personal essay “Menus: A Photo Essay” incorporate photographs to illustrate, ground, and expand the context of the narratives presented.

As always…Read more →