Unlikely associations and uneasy alliances flash—like summer’s sheet lightning—through the stories and essays in this issue, reflecting, incandescing, sparking: A young museum docent, stalled in her small-town midwestern life, befriends a man on death row (Rebecca McKanna’s “Interpreting American Gothic”). A man who struggles with human connections welcomes an enormous snapping turtle into his home during an epic storm, forming a deep bond with the ancient creature (Benjamin Soileau’s “Boosh Bourgeois”). After coming into an unexpected fortune, each member of a family experiences a different relationship to their newfound wealth, rendering them strangers to one another, as well as to themselves (Sarah Walker’s “Joe and June”). Recovering from a suicide attempt, a young man finds himself drawn to a portrait photographer with dubious intentions (Kevin Wilson’s “Portfolio”). Jad Adkins meditates on his love for his father and how it is inextricably infused with the color orange in “Ode to Orange.” Patricia Foster recounts her mother’s rise from “Below” to “Above” and thus their family’s tenuous relationship with class in “Nowhere.” And Cecilia Weddell—the daughter of an American father and a Mexican mother—writes of her uneasiness with language, the pronouns we and they, hyphens, and terms of origin and ethnicity as she retells the story of Nahua heroine Malinche in “The New Malinchista.”
The work in this issue is charged with a sometimes dangerous energy that pulses throughout, yet illuminates as well. Take both shelter and inspiration in these pages, and welcome to the summer issue.
What strikes me about the poems in this summer issue is that they are patient, waiting to hear what can only be heard in what Ray Malone calls “the windstill time,” “the waiting time.” Malone’s poem practices a certain kind of patience—the patience of the short poem heavily punctuated by rests (commas, dashes, line breaks, page space), but there are other kinds of patience to be found among these poems as well. There is the patience of the long poem that can find its subject only in the unfolding of the poem itself, represented in this issue by the work of Allison Cobb, Martin Corless-Smith, and Daniel Tiffany. And there is the patience of Lisa Olstein’s poem “Root,” which repeats and alters itself until an alterative is found:
God made her
his vessel. No.
God made of her
a vessel. No.
The river poured
into her as if a vessel.
These poems know that in order for poems to exist at all, reader and writer must wait on the world, with a patient ear and an open heart. “I watch the animals go round and round,” writes Victoria McArtor, “and wait for the world to go quiet / so I can write this down.”
Featured in This Issue
Jad Adkins, Ruth Baumann, Conor Bracken, George Kalamaras & Mary Ann Cain, Christopher Citro, Allison Cobb, Martin Corless-Smith, Edison Dupree, K.M. English, Patricia Foster, Sophie Klahr, Sharon Kunde, Cate Lycurgus, Alessandra Lynch, Ray Malone, Brandi Nicole Martin, Victoria McArtor, Rebecca McKanna, David Mills, Lisa Olstein, Brian Simoneau, Benjamin Soileau, Beth Suter, Daniel Tiffany, Sarah Walker, Cecilia Weddell, Kevin Wilson