I started writing fiction a few weeks ago. There is something to be said about feeling like a child again, about feeling as though there is only everything to fear. I like being able to mask myself, absolve myself by creating another to speak for me. What is this exactly: an act of giving birth, of burdening another with one’s trauma, of extending one’s shelf life? I am not so sure. All I know is that I feel as though I am learning how to write again, that I am learning the anatomy and uses of my language.
I have always held the belief that to write is to indulge in shame and guilt. There is much that can be said about those feelings, about law and literature too, but my first memory traces itself back to the opening page of Nabokov’s Lolita where Humbert refers to his readers as “members of a jury.” I want to believe in my humility as a reader or writer and translator. I want to think against reading from the position of being “found out” or “recognized” by a writer, from the position of being “spoken for.” I want to think against readership as some sort of judgement, I want to think against writing as a testimony or deposition. But when I present these works to you every quarter, I feel puzzled, bewildered, confused. I find myself embroiled in the same questions I want to thread myself out of.
It goes without saying that curating and editing an issue is a matter of judgement, and that I want you to approve of our decisions. But I want our relationship to have more body than simple approval, more life than plain reception. I hope you appreciate the video and audio recordings of our poets reading their works as much as I did. The poems in this issue are gems, their language has the force of an insignificant moment that clutches you whole with rapt attention and consumes you. I have reflected a great deal on some words and lines from this issue and, like any good poetry, they continue to raise new possibilities and dangers: Brendan Walsh’s “i cried over the same two poems,” Daisy Bassen’s simple phrase with infinite possibilities, “endless more,” Prithvijeet Sinha’s use of “Such a canvas is somber” which makes me think of the exact moment in which the poem was written; Gregory McGreevy’s razor-sharp lines “metallic clink / fork on plate, / amplified in quiet rooms,” Jessica Heron’s use of “storied chaos,” Mon Malanovich-Gallagher’s line which is a lesson in the quietness of poetic detail, “I smile to the child in our rented kitchen.” I hope you feel equally wounded and healed as I did reading ‘Tell me when the ocean will begin‘ by Sarah Hoenicke Flores. I hope you appreciate the gaze of artists like Jim Ross and Lauren Bartel and marvel at what they created.
It is a frightening prospect, I understand, to read something that exposes you to the danger of never being able to return. But reading is a tryst with the crude pleasures of taking such a risk. I hope you are able to go further without returning. I hope you’re able to feel the full extent of all your ugly feelings, whether they are shame, guilt, joy or pain. I hope you join me in facing, day in and day out, the difficulties and incomparable anguish of reading and writing.
Sending our best,
Editor-in-Chief and Founder