Letter from the Editors
For our “Letter from the Editor” for Issue #49 of Mud Season Review, we’re turning to our staff. Our team includes over 30 volunteers spread out across the country, from the mountains of Montana to the hillsides of Vermont. They keep our journal afloat, reading submissions, providing feedback to authors, and choosing brilliants authors and artists to feature every month (like this issue’s fabulous line-up! We are so excited to feature them!). Many on our staff teach or work in academia, and so are navigating the abrupt transition to teaching online, trying to do what is best for students. We’re also feeling the grief and anxiety so many of us feel while in some cases taking care of parents or children (or both). We aren’t alone in navigating this new reality. You – our readers – are surely forging ahead through uncertainty in many different ways. In the spirit of solidarity, we wanted to share how creative works of all stripes are helping to sustain us. You’ll see multiple mentions of “inspiration,” “joy,” and “hope.” Let’s keep those words close to heart as we see our way to the other side.
Kristin LaFollette, art editor: “Art and literature are already such a big part of my day to day life as a professor, a writer, an artist, and the art editor at Mud Season Review. However, much of my time is spent reviewing the work of others and being inspired by it, but I usually don’t have as much time to focus on my own work. Art and literature are helping me get through this pandemic because, not only am I still viewing the work of my students and those who submit to the journal, but I get to take that inspiration and spend more time creating. It’s been nice to take a step back and focus on things that bring me joy that I don’t normally have time for. I’ve also been able to read for pleasure, which isn’t something that normally happens! I’ve been working my way through a stack of unread Stephen King novels; I’m currently almost through The Outsider.”
Grier Martin, poetry associate editor: “Conducting the interview with Karthik Sethuraman, our featured poet from Issue #48, was a wonderful chance to connect with another person through art. After reading and re-reading this poet’s work, I was able to delve deeper into it and to ask him about his inspirations and his writing process. In a time when I feel distant from so many people, this experience made me feel close to someone who lives across the country and whom I’ve never met in person.”
Cathy Beaudoin, fiction reader: “To me, art gives voice to those who show us how to navigate our way through the unexpected twists and turns in life. Artists manage to capture the good and bad in all our lives and remind us that as horrible as the day looks today, there is always hope, joy, and a path through the most dismal of times. As a reader and writer, I am always intrigued by characters who successfully navigate the difficulties we all encounter. Ultimately, stories remind us of the compassion needed, and often displayed, in times of crisis. The pandemic has reminded me actions matter. To do my part in this time of crisis, I maintain my commitment to read fiction submissions. Reading for MSR is a tool that’s still available to shine a light on stories that capture things like hope, perseverance, and adaptability, elements of humanity that writers have been writing about for centuries. It is a way I can make a positive contribution to the writing community and remain hopeful that tomorrow will be a better day.”
Chris Skiles, fiction reader: “I have gone back to the classics, to help with my anxiety. Books like War and Peace, The Books of Earthsea— mammoth books that I know will take me a while, as I’m holed up in my cabin. I think the main reason I started really reading was to deal with my anxiety. Reading books that have been around a while, that people read before me through wars and revolutions— it’s nice reading something that is going to last longer than you, no matter what happens. I’ve been stocking up on books throughout the years, just in case we got in a quarantine situation like this. And it paid off. I like to work in my garden during the day (always good to have a garden) and it’s nice to top off the day in my recliner reading the greats. Like Ernest Hemingway said, “No friend is as loyal as a book.” In times of uncertainty I turn to them.”
Coty Poynter, nonfiction reader: “During this time, when the typical distance of a day is limited to the square footage of our homes, literature and music help put distance between myself and the walls that surround me, which sometimes feel as if they’re closing in. When the news for the day becomes too bleak and exhaustive, they serve as a means to rejuvenate. My neighborhood has gone quiet, but when the sirens wail in the distance, they’re loud in a way they’ve not been before. Both music and literature act as a mute. They are a reminder of the good humanity is capable of, even in the midst of a pandemic. Reading creative works from individuals across the globe, though harder some days than others, has provided me with hope and a stronger sense of community. It’s a gentle reminder that we are all in this together — this being life, all its struggles, and the current pandemic — and that we are not alone in this; we will get through this.”
Erin Post, managing editor