It’s something we almost all lament at some point in adulthood: how ephemeral summer seems compared to its endless stretch when we were young. Now, before May even ends, the calendar fills with summer plans and obligations until September arrives, the season fleeting, diminishing, disappearing in the rearview almost as quickly as it appeared on the horizon. Fittingly, this issue’s stories and essays are also situated in spaces of transience, people caught between one place and another, between now and then.
In Emilie Beck’s “What She Is,” a man picks up a young woman—from “all over” and “here and there”—hitchhiking across the southwest, and soon a misunderstanding between them erupts into a violence that will haunt the man for the rest of his days. A couple’s marriage becomes strained when a woman, needing time and space to herself, decides to live, off and on, apart from her husband and child in Andrew Porter’s “Bees.” In Joan Silber’s “Coverage,” an accident causes a long-haul trucker, whose affair has him traveling between his wife’s and his ex-wife’s beds, to consider the choices he’s made over the course of his life. And two girls, teetering on the cusp of innocence and experience, spend a pivotal summer at a tennis camp in Samantha Storey’s “Voices Underwater.”
This issue’s nonfiction brings us Kathleen Blackburn’s “Daughter Tongue,” in which she contemplates the borders between mother and daughter, between the place she was born and the place she is from, and between secrets, stories, myths, and lies. J. F. Dakin, grieving the loss of a friend, imagines a world without gravity, where people and objects don’t fall but gently float toward an “indefinite horizon” in “Nadyne and the Theory of Everything.” And finally, in “Transparent,” Jill Talbot examines a site of comfort and stability—the convenience store she visits every morning—a place where “we’re transient . . . fleeting, between one moment and the next.”
I hope you’ll find, amid your summer travels and commitments, space that feels fixed yet transportive and time that seems to expand just for you, allowing you to savor the fine work in this issue.
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This spring I made pickles: spicy green beans, onions, apples, carrots. I prepared the brine—sugars, salts, spices, herbs, boiling water—then put everything in jars to meld the flavors. Together, unique flavors made something delicious. I ate the last today, and was happy—because they were fantastic—and sad—because I can’t enjoy them again.
It’s been a while since I gave these poems to the Colorado Review staff. I read them now with the smile I smile when consuming something delicious. Some of these—by poets I’d not known before—knocked me completely out when I read them. (Thanks, Hilary Vaughn Dobel, Sarah Bates, Lauren Haldeman, Jacques J. Rancourt, Dag T. Straumsvåg and Robert Hedin, Kelly Jean Egan.) I discovered familiar names through Submittable as I might encounter the glory of allspice. (Thanks, Erika Mueller, Jacob Oet, Donald Platt, Sarah Carson, Peter Cooley.) And, like the green beans for which I made a trip to the store, some of these poems I specifically sought. (Thanks, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Jan-Henry Gray, Carmen Giménez Smith, Sean Hill, Traci Brimhall, Kamilah Aisha Moon.) No matter how they came to me, these poems have merged together in such a delightful way I am, page by page, compelled to smile. (Thanks, Caitlin Newcomer, Kaveh Akbar, Chelsea Dingman, Alison Prine, Javier Zamora, Martin Rock, Vandana Khanna.)
Dickinson said that thing about the top of her head coming off when she encountered the hottest poetry. Someone said something similar about how his head felt after eating my spicy pickles. Which got me thinking that besides starting with a P, perhaps pickles and poetry have a lot in common. One of the reasons pickles were created was for nourishment in months with few sustaining fruits. There are also electrolytes to consider: all the necessary stuff salt provides. Pickles, like poems, can be purely delightful. They can, simultaneously, be seriously important. Don’t underestimate the life-giving power of transforming an apple into something as miraculous as pickled apple—or of the making of mundane words into something fantastic, as these poets have done. (Thanks, Erika Meitner, Becca Barniskis, Julie Henson, Mariama J. Lockington, Zachary Hester, Dan Lau, Lauren K. Alleyne.) Poetry gives us sustenance, saltiness, surprise. Unlike the pickles, these delicious poems will be here for us again and again. Thank goodness.
—Camille T. Dungy
Featured in This Issue
Kaveh Akbar, Lauren K. Alleyne, Becca Barniskis, Sarah Bates, Emilie Beck, Kathleen Blackburn, Traci Brimhall, Sarah Carson, Peter Cooley, J.F. Dakin, Hilary Vaughn Dobel, Kelly Jean Egan, Jan-Henry Gray, Robert Hedin, Julie Henson, Zachary Hester, Sean Hill, Vandana Khanna, Daniel Lau, Mariama Lockington, Erika Meitner, Kamilah Aisha Moon, Erika Mueller , Caitlin Newcomer, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Jacob Oet, Donald Platt, Andrew Porter, Alison Prine, Jacques Rancourt, Martin Rock, Joan Silber, Carmen Giménez Smith, Samantha Storey, Dag T. Straumsvag, Jill Talbot, Javier Zamora