Volume 45

A Collection of Risks

Well, the Fall 2014 issue is printed and is set to be published online this afternoon! Looking at this issue as a single collection of work, I feel it absolutely holds a torch to any we’ve produced before–as it should, based on our receiving more submissions than any previous year!

This opinion is based nearly entirely on the issue’s diverse array of risks. As a writer myself, I rely on the surprises I implant in each story or poem to lure readers in–not for shock value or for originality but because people read for the sake of feeling something–and to implement something unexpected is a risk. I may be writing a story about a depressed man, but what will make him stand out is the fact that he’s also a masochist, a bigot, diagnosed with progeria, or hypersexual. Similarly, while writing a poem, I may suddenly realize I have not written one original line or presented any original thought; so I go back, add a neologism or an image that doesn’t match the poem and see how I can work the two or more presumably conflicting aspects of the piece into a single coherent message. Without these risks, my work is not worth reading.

I think back to last year’s poetry issue and distinctly remember the poem “Punishment: The Pet Gorilla” and how much I admired the risk of writing a poem about a gift of a gorilla on “xmas,” how even the use of “xmas” instead of “Christmas” worked to draw me in as a reader.

This issue has risks. In one poem by Alan Jernigan, he calls our attention to Yaz commercials and how the women in them “sit around all happy, just talking and having clits.” Joyce Janca-Aji has titled one of her two published poems “True Love” and then flipped what we would expect to be a cliché on its head. Similarly, Gale Acuff discusses, in his poem “Sniff,” a ten year-old’s desire to marry his Sunday School teacher and then portrays his enigmatically mature reaction when she turns him down.

Looking beyond the written content of the issue, our cover photo was taken by Caitlin McKendry at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin. It presents a mixed message of loss and unendingness that appropriately matches the final line of the issue, from John Grey’s “The Oldest Guy in the Arcade,” which, coming from the mouth of a man fully aware of his own imminent mortality, refers to “the days that I’ve still got coming.”

We hope you enjoy the issue!
-Alexander Boyd, Co-Managing Editor

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