"I am a guy who is Vietnamese, living in France, making a Japanese movie. But Vietnamese culture is really deep inside me. Let’s say I enjoy watching Vietnamese women more than others. It’s something like that. I feel that I am a different man when I am in Vietnam compared with France. I feel that I’m not living my life fully in France, I feel as though my life is in suspension. It is not something I dislike, that’s just how it is."
Where They Stood: The Publishing StoryLinda Leith
31 March 2023
On March 31, 2023, the writing team from Where They Stood: The Evolution of the Black Anglo Community in Montreal celebrated its "world premiere" at the Cinématheque Québecois. This is an excerpt from Linda Leith's introduction.
It’s been a long road to Where They Stood. Even LLP—my colleagues and associates and I at LLP—have been on this road for almost two years, and the Black Community Research Centre has there much longer. The LLP side of the story has a few different chapters.
It begins in August, 2021, when BCRC Project Coordinator Ayana Monuma called me up out of the blue from BCRC, looking for a publisher for book of essays written by a number of young Black writers.
LLP had just had word of funding for a new monthly digital magazine, Font, and I’d hired Rachel McCrum as editor-in-chief.
In the weeks and months that followed, we engaged Deanna Smith to run a writing workshop with the Young Black Writers; we hired Font staff members Deanna Radford, Edward He; we engaged the services of a dynamite design team at House9; and I called up BCRC President Dr Clarence Bayne and we had lunch.
And in November 2021, LLP launched the very first issue of Font featuring the Young Black Writers. You'll find that launch issue online here.
There was a lot more to follow, including meetings with BCRC about a partnership between LLP and BCRC and a signed publishing agreement for an essay collection to the called Where They Stood.
In April, 2022, we at LLP organized a splashy in-person public event – our first since the start of the pandemic -- at the AfroMusée here in Montreal. We launched the reiussue of No Crystal Stair, we launched En bas de la côte—and we launched Font magazine.
Maguy Métellus was animatrice. Participants included Mairuth’s granddaughter, Zinzi de Silva, poet and novelist H. Nigel Thomas, poet Laura Doyle Péan, the translator of No Crystal Stair, Rachel Martinez -- and all the writers from that extraordinary first issue of Font. Rachel McCrum was directing the proceedings along with Deanna Radford and our Associate Publisher, Leila Marshy. The room was packed. It was a joyous occasion.
The most recent chapter of this story begins early March, 2023, when LLP published Where They Stood: The Evolution of the Black Anglo Community in Montreal thanks to BCRC. We couldn't have done so without our trusty freelance copyeditor Elise Moser as well as proofreader Kaiya Smith Blackburn. We submitted the book to the Montreal Review of Books and other publications for review, and we’re especially happy with the mRb piece, by Val Rwigema, which describes Where They Stood as:
"An indispensable educational tool and essential reading… Where They Stood asks us to visualize life outside of struggle -- and preserves and inspires hope for current and future generations."
And here we all are this evening at the Cinémathèque, in this packed house, for this joyous occasion. It has been a great and truly collaborative process, working with BCRC, and especially closely with you, Raeanne Francis and Ayana Monuma.
Congratulations to all of you at BCRC, and congratulations to all the talented Young Black Writers whose work we first showcased in Font – and are now so proud to publish in Where They Stood.
President & Publisher, Linda Leith Publishing
Publisher, Font magazine
Linda Leith founded Blue Metropolis Foundation in 1997 and was President and Artistic Director of the Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival for the first fourteen years. In 2011, she created the literary house Linda Leith Publishing and Salon .ll., which started publishing in French in 2012. She launched Font magazine in 2021. The author of eight books, her most recent title is The Girl From Dream City: A Literary Life.
[Photo: John Mahoney]