Editors' Notes: Issue Five
Updated: Mar 31, 2020
Jacqueline: There were a lot of approaches I thought about taking for this note, ranging from "art is magic and will save us," to "the dictionary defines 'pandemic' as...," but I don't want to do any of that today. It feels important to be honest and say that, at least for me, creating this issue wasn't a matter of wanting to persevere and create art, but one of finding comfort in routine. Firstly, thank you so much to our readers and contributors for being patient with us through my relocation due to COVID-19. Your continued kindness and enthusiasm is one of the best parts of this job.
Like a lot of people, I'm struggling to find my footing in this new normal. Some days, it can be difficult to feel like anything matters. I find the greatest struggle in trying to complete tasks that straddle the "before" and "after" of the seismic shift this country has experienced in the last few weeks. How do you keep going when a half-finished project feels like it belongs to another lifetime? How do you separate competing priorities when so much time and energy is dedicated to keeping your head above water, to deciphering what is and isn't true?
There are so many questions for which we have no answers, and we're all just trying to do our best, to make the decision that feels the most compassionate in a given moment. For me, that feels like celebrating poets and taking comfort in the minutiae of getting an issue ready to launch. I hope that, for you, reading some of those poems feels compassionate as well. They're good ones.
Take care of yourselves. Be safe; make good choices. Ethan: "To learn which questions are unanswerable," wrote Ursula K. Le Guin, "and not to answer them: this skill is most needful in times of stress and darkness." That line has stuck with me ever since I read The Left Hand of Darkness more than a decade ago, and it's become something of a mantra for me recently. I still worry about the people in my life, and the people out of it. I'm especially anxious about whatever comes after this, because while it seems like society will have to change because of the problems and injustices the current situation has made obvious, I'm not sure we have the wisdom to make those changes for the better. But I set those things aside for now, and now, and now again. What I turn to are these stories. While they do not provide answers to pandemics or democracy or America, I was delighted and amazed when I read them before all of this happened, and I still feel that way now. Aurelia Kessler, Evan James Sheldon, and Meredith Wadley are three wildly different writers, but each uses language to grasp at something bigger, something worth knowing, and I'm so glad to have their work in our first issue of 2020. I hope you enjoy them just as much as I have.
Ashely: Per usual, Ethan and Jacque have already said pretty much anything I could but a lot more eloquently but I do love to talk (and have fewer audiences these days to wear myself down on) so here it goes: it really sucks out there. But, I've also seen some of the most compassionate acts in the past few weeks as people comfort and take care of each other. While these pieces were pretty clearly written and accepted before the worst of the pandemic, I believe they reflect those same values. There is no grand hero who will step down and save us, only us in all our messiness and compassion.
As always, I hope you will look at the world right now and, as @prisonculture on twitter said: "Let this radicalize you rather than lead you to despair."