Digital artwork by Adam Ferriss
From Tom Dooley, Managing and Fiction Editor
I'm going to keep my remarks short this time, given that my awesome co-editors have provided some great notes below. First, I'd like to say something about this issue, which is that in my estimation, it's a good one. Whether it's stuff so thoughtful it almost makes one's brain ache (see Tom Hubschman's Salon piece, or Jascha Kessler's essay in Miscellany), or stuff that's actually *funny* (a subjective term, to be sure, but Steven Stark's odd tale in the humor section qualifies, as does Grant Jarrett's tragicomic hoot in Fiction), or stuff that's hauntingly beautiful, unsettling, informative, even transformative (see rest of issue!)... I'm proud as all heck of what we've been able to bring into Internet existence here. We've had issues in the past with more quantity, but this one stacks up with any, quality-wise. Adam Ferriss's cool images certainly jazz things up, too. Thanks to our Visual Editor, Elise Pfau, for bringing Adam to the magazine. And speaking of editors, thanks to Anne, David, and Jennifer, who continue to do yeomen's work, in spite of the many things, good and bad, going on in their lives right now.
Second, I'm excited to announce a long-awaited development in the works. Beginning with our October/November 2013 issue (v17n4), we will be offering some monetary compensation to our contributors. We're starting small: for awhile, we'll be paying only the three standout authors in each issue, with the largest payment going to our Spotlight Author. If things go well, we'll continue to increase the number of authors paid and what we're able to pay them. Details will be posted (soon) on our Submittable tool and in our Guidelines. I'm really excited to be taking another step toward what has been my goal from day one, 17 years ago, which is to make Eclectica a paying publication. Yes, that qualifies as a snail's pace, but I've wanted whatever we wound up doing to be sustainable, and I've resisted any "revenue models" that might compromise our ability to publish whatever we want to publish. So here we go... baby steps!
From Jennifer Finstrom, Poetry Editor
I want to start out by saying something about the Word Poem special feature in general and why I think that it's such a great component of Eclectica. I was a contributor to this special feature in the past before I became poetry editor, and I noticed—and this is something that I have heard as well from many other Word Poem contributors—that I was often writing poems that I didn't expect to be writing, poems that might not ever have come to life otherwise. In addition, there were times when I found that a poem that I had started and that was missing something could sometimes be saved by the addition of those four words. At times, this even seems like alchemy, that the transformative power of a word's connotative and denotative elements was exactly what was needed. I am writing this in hopes that others who have not yet attempted the Word Poem Challenge will give it a try in the future. I hope you will be surprised and delighted by what you write.
One of the four pre-chosen words this issue was "water," and even as I continued to read through general submissions, I noticed that the element of water was still present. I always enjoy seeing connections between the poems, thematic elements at times that inexplicably carry through an issue or sometimes just a repeated image. In Diane Oberhansly's "My Insomnia," the poem's speaker wakes "Along the jagged coastline of 2 or 3 am," and here the sea is figurative as it "continues its babbled story," in the wakeful darkness of the poem. In Peter Bridges' "Three Hellenic Sonnets," the sea is there as a real part of the story of Odysseus and in the Trojan conflict. In "Farewell to Nausicaa," Odysseus is "washed clean of brine and nightmares" in his brief sojourn with Nausicaa, realizing at the start of the sextet that "I must sail on." Even as Odysseus speaks of "dales of doves and bees," the sea is always present. And in the second of John McKernan's three poems, "You Died at Dawn on Cape Hatteras," the ocean serves as a place to say goodbye: "What words/ Will catch/ That red sliver of dawn light/ The rainbow on the water/ The blinding sunlight."
I know that every new submission period will bring new confluences, and that I will learn new ways of seeing the world and new ways of making choices in poetry from all of those who submit work. It's hard to decide whether it's more exciting to see a new issue come to life online or to read the first submissions for the next one. I hope that you all enjoy the issue!
From Anne Leigh Parrish, Fiction Editor
Welcome to summer! The season is well along for most of you, but from where I'm writing (Seattle), summer has only just begun. It's time to move more slowly and savor what we love, to put our feet up and dream. The short stories in our July/August issue of Eclectica will lead you away into other lives and other worlds. They will remind you of what matters, and why you care.
We begin with our Spotlight Author, Brigit Kelly Young, whose story, "Pretty, Pretty Britney" takes us inside the private, lonely, and catastrophic world of a celebrity. Scott Stambach's "The Tiny Speck in Adam's Rib" weaves together history, faith, and magic in a fabulous tale told by father to son. Though set in a foreign land, "The Seven-Thousand -Year Old Spirit," by Iheoma Nwachukwu strikes close to home and to the heart as the protagonist, a world-weary police officer, uncovers an elaborate scam to rip off unwary villagers with a supernatural ruse. A middle-aged couple faces a terminal illness in Joel B. Levine's "Love Is Not Time's Fool." This heartbreaking piece is quiet, elegant, and splendidly summarized by the author himself: "In these last months, they had learned the tender poetry of loss." Romance takes on a much more cynical tone as Cherie Jones gives us her marvelous—if not entirely honest or ethical character—in "Miller." Dreams then become the nightmare of African tribal warfare as the narrator of "Halfaman," by Ernest Bazanye Sempebwa, succumbs to a senseless act of violence. Hope returns in Andrew Valencia's "Minor Fall, Major Lift" when a young man, seeking a better way to live, is redeemed through the power of both art and love. In "Boundaries" by Pam McGaffin, we are reminded of the distance that can grow over time between two people who used to mean the world to each other. We close with a "Perfectly Reasonable Request" by Grant Jarrett, a story that blends black humor, compassion, and fantastically colorful characters in an exploration of both morality and responsibility.
These are stories that are long on wit, love, truth, and spirit. As long as the days now upon us. Enjoy!
From David Ewald, Nonfiction Editor
As with every issue, I try to find commonalities among the pieces selected for publication. I thought I had it with this one. "The Audition" by Daniel Harris and "Goldstein's Sporting Goods" by Sam Mills are both set in the 1950s. Both narratives reflect on an adolescent experience very much grounded in an evocative place, be it the Chicago apartment of an eccentric musician or a small town sporting goods store during Christmastime. I was even prepared to write a little something here about the '50s, a decade of which I have no firsthand knowledge. Then along came former contributor Ikhide Ikheloa and "For Fearless Fang: a Boy and His Pets," a piece not grounded in any one scene, a piece that ranges from the present to the past and back. And yet it works. All three pieces work very well.
I'm on the hunt, by the way. In addition to everything else going on in my life, I've been making an effort to seek out authors whose work would be a good fit for Eclectica. If I don't find you, find me. Send me your best.