February 20, 2016
Letter from the editor
Holly Savas’ series “Shape Towers” engages with what she describes as “the tension created when contemporary colors and patterns are paired with primitive shapes”; she “flattens” the collaged objects into cross sections that “provide a clearer visual of how rough lines, wobbly shapes and imperfect proportion can work fluidly with fresh, modern materials.” Forms find their balancing point, their chain links, even as the eye wonders: what is foreground, what is background? What is mirror, what is cage? I see a similar contrast between the contemporary and the primitive—if taken to mean whatever has come first, with an undercurrent of the more immediate, primal emotions—in the written work of this issue. It’s filled with cross-sections and intersections.
Lori White’s essay “Mapquest to Auntie Iryne’s” adopts the contemporary form of Mapquest directions to navigate the terrain of an aging, ailing family and her place in it. Her use of the form acknowledges the predictability of the paths family relationships follow, the fixed roles: “For several years now, the past has been a safer topic than the present. As for the future, there is little left to discuss.” But the very fixed nature of the form frees the author to discover the fluidity of her relationship to the past, a balancing act of humor and pathos.
Abhay K’s portraits of famous figures from Nepal contrast a modern poetic form with heroes—spiritual, poetic, and military—from the past. In Sanskrit, Siddhartha means “he who has achieved his goals/found the meaning of existence,”and as we read the summation of these lives, the personalities not speaking as much as being spoken for, the underlying question is: did they achieve their goals, did they find meaning in their lives?
In Marie Curran’s story “Perigee,” when the narrator comes closest to the object of her fantasy, just as the moon is at its closest to the earth, she observes: “Processing onions with Asher is enjoyable—almost religiously satisfying. The wrongs of the world lose their edge. There’s the wet onions’ shine, and then the way I brush the harvest’s leavings off the table to make room for what’s arriving, the acoustics of hollow stems hitting the wood. Cycles ending and beginning.” Her contemporary life, full of intersecting roles and obligations, conflicts with a past desire, and as what was sown is harvested, everything must find a new equilibrium, if not harmony.
Rebecca Starks, editor