It is uncommon on this unceded Coast Salish land called “Vancouver” to see the radiant faces of so many black people in one room; more familiar are we with those rare, unexpected moments when we see another solitary “i” in this city, as Ian William so aptly notes in “Our eyes meet across yet another room,” that the on-stage dialogue in June between Dionne Brand, Christina Sharpe, and David Chariandy felt like a long-awaited gift. We left invigorated. What was the work of words for us as students, activists, creators? How do we do the work of words in the climates that we find ourselves in? David Chariandy—our professor for only three months that summer but someone we now envision as a lifelong mentor—encouraged us to follow this thread. He connected us with The Capilano Review’s former editor, Andrea Actis, another new mentor, and thus this special issue of TCR on “the work of words” was born.
When we began to curate this issue, we were unsure of how the submissions might come together, as might be the case with any collaborative venture. We’d invited contributors with the prompt What is “the work of words” for black creators now? and excitedly awaited their interpretations of the question. Despite our uncertainty, we were awestruck by the conversation that we saw between the pieces. This issue is not just held together by blackness, nor does it attempt to provide a definition of blackness. These pieces capture a multiplicity of black joy, fear, desire, communion, sorrow, and life.