We at Mud Season are aware that this has been a month of high emotions for many people, and we hope you are all doing your best to take care of yourselves and each other.
Now more than ever, it is important to us to reiterate our purpose for this journal. We stand with the literary and artistic community as a whole in wanting to offer a space for those voices that most need to speak and be heard. Often those are the voices of writers and artists whose perspectives are devalued or underrepresented in society. We seek to publish a wide variety of work and are strongly committed to amplifying voices from marginalized communities.
By sharing these stories, we aim to do our small part to fight any messages of fear and hate directed at our fellow citizens, both within America and globally. Thank you, as always, for your support.
In many ways, our featured work in this month’s issue highlights the ever present need to form deep human connections with each other, even those with whom we don’t always agree.
Rebecca Fremo, in her essay “Bring Out Your Dead,” reflects on the complications inherent in both family relationships and long-lasting friendships – and how the lines can blur between them, with friends becoming family (“Aunt Cim”) and family members becoming, at least in certain aspects, distant or untrustworthy. Who should we be loyal to? Who are we willing to stand by, and who will we allow to stand by us? It can be hard to know where to draw a line, and perhaps in order to maintain a bond with anyone, at some point we will need to compromise, hold our breath, and hope for the best.
“The Tall House” creates a surreal world where all unmarried women are forced to live together in large houses until a man is able to “convince” one of them to marry him (and more often than not, this “convincing” is unwelcome and leads to violence). Unsurprisingly, the women become much more bonded to each other than to the men who expect them to fulfill a certain role. When certain women start to melt away, the reader is left wondering if it is self-protection taking the form of self-destruction or a sickness brought on by external oppression, by how little control they are allowed over their lives and bodies.
In Triin Paja’s poetry, there is a continual focus on bodies in contact and in particular hands extended in gestures of love – holding the other person’s face, washing their face, washing their hands. While you feel like you’re witnessing these personal, intimate moments, there are also times when the scope widens to include links between species, languages, and countries: “when you washed my face with snow / I extended my hands, remembering // the horse carriage in a gypsy slum in Hungary, / where the word for hand, kasi, is the same // in my language, käsi.” A perhaps uneasy harmony of natural and urban elements is braided throughout, reminding us of the spaces and landscapes we share.
Our featured art from Norwegian photographer Ole Brodersen also combines the natural (ocean) with the manmade (string, cloth, lights, and other objects) to explore the unpredictability of nature and to show that there is no such thing as a fixed place. His images are essentially captured movements – alluding to water currents, weather, and other (often invisible) forces which are always impacting our environment.
Lauren Bender, editor-in-chief