The theme of “space” for this issue picks up a thread from issue i—the rapid pace of change in Waterloo Region that continues to transform our communities. We thought about the people and places that have been erased as a result, and how spaces are controlled and surveilled. We dwelled on spaces as protection and spaces as healing. We reflected on space as borderless, how our local community is connected to the global, and even the cosmic. We thought about space as root and rebellion. We hoped our contributors would explore, shape, question, and design space. Aashay Dalvi, who opens issue ii, had fun with the openness of the theme, asking questions that we have all been asking ourselves.
As someone in the twitterverse put it, a useful starting point is to assume no one is okay. Textile is a publication built on mentorship with new writers, prioritizing complexly marginalized communities who are not well represented in CanLit. These are also the people who were the most negatively impacted by inequities laid bare by the pandemic. 2020’s spotlight on racial injustice and police brutality added enormous stress and challenges to the lives of our Black, Indigenous, and racialized mentors and contributors. People became more aware of their relationship to spaces and their social position within them. Many people retreated to private space. Those who couldn’t went searching.
Reflecting on the various structural, economic, and health realities that our contributors and mentors have had to navigate, there were many formal mentorships and partnerships that had to end or be put on hold indefinitely. We’d like to acknowledge everyone who started to build relationships with us, as well as all of our dedicated mentors who worked hard to connect with writers these past several months.
Lockdown saw many of us incessantly flipping between computers, cell phones, or TVs in a constant state of worry about the state of the world outside. This is one of many reasons we deeply appreciated Mélika Hashemi’s piece Screen is a Portal, where psycho-retinal techniques instruct the reader on how to pause and expand their space. In some way, we hope that each piece does this for you. We seek spaces where there is love, as described by Saira Obaid’s Untitled and Nitica’s Aaji—yet love’s opposite always lurks close by: Seemab Zahra’s Enigma, Yasmeen Nematt’s This House, Bee Lee’s poems, and Connor Chin-Quee’s The Tower all plot the empty landscape of heartbreak.
The “s” in Space(s) is quarantined by parentheses. We are testing to make sure it’s OK—can we handle this much plurality? Some writers took the theme more literally, writing of their favorite spaces which, for a moment, feel untampered, like Tyra Forde’s A Plate Away, or Nicole Smith’s True Blue, the most Kitchener story we’ve ever read. We are reminded by Shawn Johnston’s photo essay, Sacred Spaces, that many Indigenous, Black, and racialized people are forced to carve out space through conflict. As our poetry editor, Ashley Hynd, so aptly spoke of It was not your fault by the pseudonymous L.S., writings about experiences
of violence and trauma “will continue to exist as long as these things keep happening.”
Mainstream media coverage of the Black Lives Matter movement is but a brief puncture to the illusions of whiteness. After thousands marched through Downtown Kitchener in June 2020 to protest policing of Black and Indigenous communities, one local politician called it “the most widespread racial awakening this city and region have ever seen.” People do not simply “wake up,” but must in fact actively engage in waking up every day.
This truth is addressed throughout issue ii, most poignantly in collaboration with KW Article Club. In “Policing the Pandemic,” Seemab Zahra, Niara Van Gaalen, Yasmeen Nematt, Ryan Antooa, and Tomi A. all speak to how white supremacy and inequity enfold the space around us. Yvonne Tagoe’s SKIN tells us that the struggle for racial equality is a lifelong endeavour, and that in spite of living in an anti-Black world, the wisdom of self-love can emerge. Together, these pieces help us imagine a better future. With care and radical love, for self and for our neighbours, we can better share space and become more accountable to one another.
Throughout issue ii, writers gaze back and forth from past to present. We see this in Omi Ra’s Cerasee, Zehra Nawab’s Vermillion, Jared Cubilla’s Quezon City, October 1, 1975, and Marina Wada’s Skin Color Pencil Crayon. We love that alums from our mentorship program—Seemab, Connor, and Ariya (one of the only contributors who took “space” cosmically!)—returned to submit work for this issue. At the heart of our mentorship process is an invitation to join a literary community that will keep encouraging people to share art and writing that is radically vulnerable, expressive, and exploratory. Works in this issue point to a persistent reality: whether emotional, psychological, or social—space is always there. If you are moved, please reach out and find a way to collaborate with us. We truly hope you enjoy it.
The Editors of Textile