May 20, 2017
Letter from the editor
It seems that we are finally done with snow this winter (or I should say winter/spring, because yes, it snowed earlier this month). Most of it has melted, and we’re moving away from mud season and into warmer weather.
Perfect timing, as we’re about to launch our third annual print issue, which is filled with so much wonderful art and lit. This month’s online issue highlights some of the work included. I hope it inspires you to pick up a copy and enjoy the rest!
Our featured artist, Toni Hamel, provided the cover image for our print volume. She creates her pieces by combining elements of drawings, paintings, sculptures and installations, and her work explores the human psyche, the impact of culture on the self, and contemporary social issues. The art we are featuring here and in the print issue all comes from the same series that looks at humanity’s interactions with nature. So often we try to make adjustments or improvements to the natural world, and in visually taking this idea to its extreme, Hamel reminds us that this behavior is both silly (because we never really have control) and arrogant.
Jericho Parms has written a beautiful essay that discusses identity, culture, and family history by taking the reader through the process of weaving, with a specific focus on the processes and patterns used in making traditional Navajo rugs. She also meditates on everyday objects, family heirlooms, and she shows how these rugs and other objects travel with us through our lives (and through our families, as they are passed on to the next generation), always woven into our existences and memories: “Home is just as much a mosaic of ownership, of colors and textures, of things new, and used, and handed down, floating restlessly between the warp threads of time and place, and the weft of our individual narratives.”
In the short story “Wanting” by Noelle Q. de Jesus, we encounter the always interesting “unreliable narrator.” John becomes obsessed with his neighbor and the idea that he will be able to rescue her from her troubled life, even though the details of her life are mostly a story he has created based on his limited interaction with her. The reader doesn’t know what is actually going on with the neighbor, because John can’t know either. As much as the neighbor seems to be the focus of the story, everything comes back to John – his possessiveness, anger, and benevolent sexism: “I crossed the street and made my way alongside their house. I was going to catch the louse in the act and save her. Save her and her children too.”
Chen Chen’s portfolio of poems covers family rifts, sex, Gilmore Girls, and more, all with a combination of humor and earnestness. In “How Will You Live Now?” the poem attempts to answer the title’s question with a series of imagined sounds and delightful images: “As a light rain // beginning to write a long, / very Russian novel.” This image captures a feeling of intimacy and vulnerability that runs through the entire collection (“he asked softly, shyly, what I wanted / to ask him”), as Chen is masterful at completely welcoming the reader into any moment while also maintaining an element of uncertainty, of not quite knowing what’s coming next and being surprised by what does.
Lauren Bender, editor-in-chief