Issue #24

October 20, 2016

Letter from the editor

Welcome to Issue 24 of Mud Season Review! It’s the beginning of our third year, and, true to our mission, we are inviting new voices into the journal’s community.

I would like to take a moment to welcome our slew of newcomers: Etiane George, managing editor of projects and communications; Brian Biunno, managing editor of the print issue; Louisa Wakefield, nonfiction coeditor; Katie Taylor, copyeditor; Bette Jane Camp, interviews editor; Grier Martin, proofreader; and new readers Laura Napolitano, Jenna Pacitto, Anne Averyt, Gillian English, and Jessica Demarest. We also have existing members of the team moving into new roles: Patrick Brownson as a new fiction coeditor; and Emily Ferro and Rebecca Starks as consulting editors.

In addition, this is the first issue I have had the honor of overseeing as editor-in-chief. It has been a wonderful experience so far, and I am beyond excited to see what’s in store for the future – because with such a dedicated and passionate team, and our perfect blend of new and experienced members, I know it will be brilliant.

Fittingly, there is a theme of change running through the work in this issue – and perhaps more specifically, an attempt to hold onto a core identity in the midst of change. How does one maintain their sense of self when the world they inhabit is constantly shifting and surprising them?

In Brent Fisk’s short story “Victory Garden,” a boy faces the universal loss of innocence as he ages into the understanding that the grandmother he loves is simultaneously a complex person, one who is capable of making mistakes or even performing acts of cruelty. He must struggle to continue in his role as devoted grandson, or, as she phrases it, “the only man who never deserted me.”

Andrew Maynard also grapples with the issue of loyalty in his essay “Reservation” – loyalty to his father and to his home state of Arizona as he contemplates moving away. Beyond that, he examines what it takes to even be able to strike out on your own, the inherent privilege of having people in your life who are both capable of surviving without you and willing to support you no matter what, even if it means losing you.

The work of Kurdish artist Lukman Ahmad explores a similar feeling of being “stateless,” albeit on a larger scale. He refers to his art as a fusion of “authenticity with abstraction” – a way to capture both the tragedy and the joy found in the diasporic Kurdish community’s history and culture. I am in awe of the vibrancy and brightness of his paintings, even those that could best be described as haunting.

In his poem “Devices: On the 90 Bus at 6:18 AM, After a One-night Stand,” John Manual Arias provides an in-depth look at the fear of losing the self’s continuity when a visionary crackhead informs the speaker “there are devices that / breach our / dreams and tell us / we’re not / ourselves anymore.” It is left to the reader to determine what she means by “devices” – are they actual machines (à la alien experimentation)? Malicious tricks played by a higher power? Our own brains undermining us with negative self-talk while we’re unconscious? No matter what, it’s a reminder that what we consider to be our “self” is not quite as nailed down as we would like it to be – that it’s always in flux and subject to being altered by the people and landscapes around us, or (a more reassuring perspective) by our direct attempts to mold it into what we want it to be.

Lauren Bender, editor-in-chief