Do you usually read the editorials for literary journals? Do you pretend to read them and actually just skim them? Do you read the first few lines and the last few lines and then quickly move onto the creative content? Typical. Or are you a careful, considered reader, eager to hear what the editors have to say? Geek. Why are you so eager, little beaver? You already know what we’re going to say.
[a comment about the vast amount of submissions received and how difficult — difficult! — it was for us to choose]
[words and phrases such as ‘diversity’, ‘bright, new voices’, ‘emerging writers next to established writers’, ‘fresh’, ‘showcase’, ‘highlight’, ‘carefully chosen words’]
[statements about themes or motifs that appear, with indirect quotes from the work, making our selections seem more cohesive and legitimate]
[comment encouraging you to listen to the featured audio recordings because hearing a writer read their work can be, at least, charming]
[copious, heartfelt thanks to important people who helped make the issue possible]
[a few well-crafted lines about how proud we are of and how we hope you’ll enjoy reading it]
We have translation. We have love. When a piece of writing makes the leap from one language into another, the reader is invited to consider the nature of the distance being leapt. Writing makes the first impossible leap from event to figuration. Reading is then the second act of writing, the second impossible leap. So many impossibilities, so little paper — so much alchemy. Thank god for teh intarnets.
When we say, “I love you,” our declaration leaps between tangible and intangible — holding hands under the table at your mother’s, the dinner conversation growing difficult to hear. “I love you” is an utterance always already elegiac. It affirms the impossible — of true physical union, of true communication — and lets us know this impossibility is a real condition of [the declaration of] love.
A man with a tree-shaped foreign body in his lung. A woman rousing herself to love her ailing husband. And all these women — ack, the women! — suffering with their men: men who will be going to prison, men who couldn’t hold them, men who are their sons but still disappointing, men who allow their sons to remain in the room when the prostitute comes ‘round. And the men, too. They drink and drink and drink because appreciating old connections to their streets requires intoxication.
All this inner turmoil. The roiling lonely minds and the skeptics and the hopeless romantics and the reality-blind might form the worst ever basketball team but they’ll provide an evening’s entertainment. (I will not write off the possibility of an almost equally entertaining though much more humiliating pick-up game among contributors. Fiction v. Poets. Let’s rumble.) Without exception, the imaginary worlds presented here — the paracosms — will be familiar enough for the voyeurs among you, foreign enough for the adventurous. They stick firmly to the ground, where navigation becomes a matter of will. They explore the mundane, even the dull. And maybe this captures the geist of the zeit. The spirit is fairly affected; it wants to turn its head from the harder issues, the bigger issues, the things that rail at us in the middle of the night. It escapes the trauma of irony.
As readers we look through windows. At the same time, we read as though looking into a mirror; the interactions between characters make us reflect on our own relationships. Is ‘love just another way of looking at the weather’?
In this way, maybe it’s all very social. Maybe all this really happened. Or should have happened. All of this should have happened.
Oh, and Bernard Beckett reminds us that inspiration doesn’t care about schedules but one can always hope for a little good fortune. And finally, it's Kerry Donovan-Brown's good fortune to win the Adam Prize with his novella Lamplighter — read or listen to an excerpt here — which makes for a happy ending.
At the close of the year, we wanted to let the quiet mind quiet the body and then have the quelled body disquiet the mind. On the first day, you realise you cannot crawl into a rock. And then: a torrent of dreams or obsessions or long-harboured suspicions as story or poem gurgles up through something, letting out a long sigh. You are drawing a graph to show how love changes over time. Still, we weren’t convinced. When you gave me a sheet from the line, I knew that it was time to give birth. We wanted the Cremaster Cycle or nothing. There was us alone — only children. The thing about small creatures is that you either kill them or they grow. Do you even care about what we think? And why do you two keep ganging up on me? (What is this rock? Does it look like a man? Does it look like nature imitating art? What kind of artist can sculpt in the dark?) There is a language for this and for everything else. The sadness of oranges. Perfection found in holding back. There is language for everything but the cost is unspeakable. We feel sorry for all men everywhere, ever but we never loved you any less. Now everything starts again. Bubbles float from the mouth. The time it will take for the candle to burn should occupy you.
We are grateful.
Zarah Butcher-McGunnigle, M. Doyle Corcoran and Gregory Kan.
Hosted by the New Zealand Electronic Text Collection