December 20, 2017
Letter from the editor
In Florence Sunnen’s short story “Laura,” we follow along with the narrator as they experience the intensity, closeness, and comfort of a high school friendship that is familiar and relatable. But perhaps the more interesting dynamic is the one Sunnen dances around, the relationship between Laura and her parents. Though none of the characters explain why, it is clear there is dysfunction within the family and that Laura is experiencing deep unhappiness because of it, to the point where she can’t bear to stay in the same place with them anymore: “For months Laura has been complaining that she doesn’t belong here, but every part of her seems to fit; she wants to escape, and yet she belongs in this house that’s always too cold, too dark, too quiet.”
Mahdis Marzooghian, in her nonfiction piece “Lingua Nova,” explores the idea of never having the right words to convey just how much another person means to you. Through the use of Latin, a “dead” language, and an experimental style of short, nebulous vignettes, all addressed directly to the object of her longing, she creates a world of emotion in very few words: “I awoke in the darkness with a burning in my throat and knew with a crushing certainty that I would lose you.” An underlying sequence of events emerges, details that clarify how the relationship fell apart, but it is memory, dream, and inexpressibility that carry us along.
The poetry of Mehrnoosh Torbatnejad, too, has a strong focus on language and the difficulty of communication, with stunning lines such as “I did not want to say anything because everything about fireflies / has already been said” and “If you say I have your back, / you leave exposed their ribs” and meditations on the literal English translations of Farsi phrases. Her poems also keep leading the reader back to the body – body as container for one’s inner being, body as keeper of breath, body as music and beat. In the poem “Baby Timpani” there is a moment when the speaker declares “my brain suddenly goes oh” in response to another’s heartbeat, emphasizing the typical disconnection between the language of our bodies and the language of our minds.
Artist Adelaide Tyrol looks for the hidden significance in the natural world and the truths nature can reveal to and about humans. As she says, “A random moment, fully recognized can embrace the spirit and lead us to a deeper understanding of life.” Her paintings capture plants, animals, and beautiful vistas of the world. Her more recent work combines paintings with transparency overlays, with this multi-layered approach allowing her to create a visual manifestation of the concept of complex or conflicting thought processes (such as what one might expect versus what one actually encounters in the world).