Love by Danielle Evans
The pleasure of editing a journal is that you get to fall in love over and over again. The first piece of writing that I knew I had to have for the issue was a short story that grabbed me at the sentence “Wanting to kill someone felt like a type of love.” I have been thinking about that line between our desire for intimacy and our desire for violence, the space between connection and destruction, the difference between the love that saves and the love that ruins, and so too have the writers in this issue. I looked for work with that kind of love and that kind of bite.
It has been an interesting few months in which to be working on a journal for writers of color and thinking about what it means to make space for their work. I have been watching the news and thinking about what it means for a life to matter, for a body to matter, for a body of work to matter. In some ways what we are seeing in the present moment is only the latest reframing of the questions put to writers of color over and over again, put to marginalized people all over the world: how can you love a country that you suspect is trying to kill you? As I was wrapping up selecting pieces for the issue, a black writer won a National Book Award, but had her acceptance speech overshadowed by a racist joke, the trouble with which she had to explain, eloquently but heartbreakingly, in The New York Times. There was an apology. There has been less apology for the state violence against unarmed black bodies, the response to which has been a surge in both physical protest and artistic response. That so many poets and writers joined in on the #blacklivesmatter and #blackpoetspeakout protests has been a beautiful thing to witness in a moment that needed both anger and beauty. That every black poet I know already had a go-to poem about police harassment or violence is a thing to reckon with.
There is, in this issue, anger and beauty and reckoning. There is consideration of what it means to matter in a place that wants to do you physical harm, to be aware always that your survival feels like some sort of trick, to be aware that you have learned a sleight of hand to keep it that way. There is consideration of what it means to matter in intimate spaces, to families and children and partners and lovers and to ourselves when we go home to our own doubt and rage and loneliness. I hope that you will love this work as much as I do. I hope that it will bite a little.
December 16, 2014
Photo credit: Arc Astronaut
Even Hiawatha, Even This Poem by Kenzie Allen
Meredith by Kenzie Allen
The Only Good Indian is a Dead Dead Dead Dead Indian by Kenzie Allen
Elephants in the Fall by Dwayne Betts
What More Could I, A Young Man, Want by Kyle Dargan
Rhythm by Kyle Dargan
To Abel by Ladan Osman
A Dove Sings For Young Lovers by Ladan Osman
To a Hmong Poet of the Old Country by Andre Yang
Rén by Lystra Aranal
Mercury by Chris Feliciano Arnold
Ain’t That Good News by Brit Bennett
A Field Trip by Randa Jarrar
DeSean by Shannon Reed
Black Women Academics and Their White Male Partners, A Study in Seamless Contradictions by Asali Solomon
Home Base by Xu Xi
This guest edited issue was made possible with funding from the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA).