Perhaps it’s because I was born in July that I feel most at home in the summer, when I know myself best, when I feel most knowable to others. And while summer is my country, it has always been an in-between place (such is life on the academic calendar) and one that I am always approaching, always leaving. And so it seems fitting to me that the stories and essays of our summer issue are about people grappling with identity and in-between-ness. In Rebecca Bernard’s “Gardening,” a couple dealing with the aftermath of infidelity must navigate the new boundaries of their marriage and who they are now. The narrator of Dounia Choukri’s “Never Touch Your Idols” sees herself and her teacher—the imperious Madame, simultaneously nemesis and double—as “the main characters of a novel I don’t understand.” In Lori Ostlund’s “Are You Happy?” a man, estranged from his family for many years, returns to visit his dying mother, a woman who’s never truly known her son. Unable to intervene, a young woman observes her troubled roommate’s ever-shifting identity as she cycles through relationships and struggles with sobriety in Melanie Ritzenthaler’s “Catch-Claw.” In his awp Intro Journals Project–winning essay, “Mr. Fantastic Measures Conifers,” Brian Czyzyk examines the concepts of size and growth, and ultimately a sense of self, through the lenses of family, biology, ecology, history, language, and genre. Tali Perch considers the complicated intersections of and spaces between her Ukranian/Russian/Jewish/American identities in “Records on Bone.” And Ash Whitman contemplates what it means to be White, Brown, American, Mexican, Chicana, and/or Latina in “Soy Yo.”
Whether this season feels like a homecoming or a departure, we welcome you to Colorado Review’s summer issue. —STEPHANIE G’SCHWIND
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All of us are on a journey. In these pages, these poems, these works of art, we feel the weaving of journey through the palpable echo of time. Whether it’s the time in Marilyn Nelson’s “A Gift to Be,” where wonder becomes the gift; or Diana Marie Delgado’s “Dream Obituary,” where the voice contemplates the world in half-light of both dream and age: “I realize that my journey is to forgive / everything that’s happened”; or TC Tolbert’s “Dear Melissa,” in which the voice speaks to the self on what it means to be holy and wholly in one’s identity and body, these poems carry us—into visceral experiences that make us contemplate our own being.
What does it mean to be fully human and fully in journey? These poetic voices carve themselves from reconciliation of the deepest moments of humanity, when we must reexplore ourselves, map ourselves into something we hold, and, dare we say, love. The poems come to the pages with risk in mind. “I want to be open, or opened, / Vulnerable, one can say; / The way one risks penance . . .” says Jabari Jawan Allen’s speaker in “Night Unbridled.” These poems spawn from dreams of the body, place, gods, the intimate, memory, identity, pleasure, animals, perimeters, forgiveness, vaginas, form, and elegy. They are our embodiments, our loves, our horrors, our desires, our demons, our homes, and our papery hearts held up to the light asking us to see, and be seen.
We are not always in control of this journey, but we are here, and therefore powerful, and therefore here for each other.
Poets of this issue, your art has come together in one resounding message of hope for me: hope that the future of poetry takes risks in baring the gritty, the necessary, the diverse, the gorging, and the unveiled nature of existence. To readers of this issue, it’s an honor to offer these poems and poets to you through Colorado Review so we may share space and words through this connection of reading, which is yet another echo of time. —FELICIA ZAMORA
Featured in This Issue
Billy-Ray Belcourt, Rebecca Bernard, Cedar Brant, Dounia Choukri, Brian Czyzyk, Diana Delgado, Chelsea Dingman, Kerry James Evans, Jabari Jawan Allen, Roy G. Guzmán, Bojan Louis, Rasaq Malik, Orlando Ricardo Menes, Benjamin Pearce Miller, Marilyn Nelson, Lori Ostlund, Derek Palacio, Tali Perch, Alice Pettway, Kevin Phan, Jody Rambo, Melanie Ritzenthaler, Chet’la Sebree, Maggie Smith, Lynne Thompson, TC Tolbert, Emma Trelles, Ash Whitman, John Sibley Williams, Stella Wong