Electronic/fiber artwork by Phillip Stearns
From Tom Dooley, Managing and Fiction Editor
Wow, what a great, great way to end our 17th year online. I have a lot of positive developments to report.
I'm thrilled to announce that Gilberty Wesley Purdy, who has been contributing thoughtful reviews to Eclectica for a decade now, has agreed to officially join our staff as our Review Editor. I look forward to seeing where his stewardship will take that section. It's a little weird to "welcome" someone who has been a big part of our publication for so long, but welcome, Gil!
Former and current contributor Mihir Vatsa recently won one of the most coveted poetry awards in India, the 5th Srinivas Rayaprol Poetry Prize. Per The New Indian Express, "The prize is jointly administered by the Srinivas Rayaprol Literary Trust and Department of English, University of Hyderabad," and it brings with it a sizable cash award. Congrats, Mihir!
Speaking of cash awards, I'm also thrilled to announce that Eclectica has, for the first time in 17 years, begun to realize our goal of paying our contributors. This issue, the Spotlight Author, travel writer Stuart Gelzer, received a $50 prize for his amazing piece about a weekend hunting trip in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. Lainey S. Cronk was a runner up for her three lovely and tidy poems, "Attic," "Came Crows," and "Alarm," as was Karissa Chen for her remarkable piece of speculative fiction, "The Testimony of Jayce B." Lainey and Karissa each received $25. We plan to continue this new tradition in year number 18, with the hope that we will eventually be able to pay all our contributors. Small steps...
More on the subject of awards: Jason Sanford recently announced the selections for this year's storySouth Million Writers Award Notable Stories list. There were fewer stories selected this year—just 47—but I'm psyched to report that five of those were published in Eclectica. The authors of those five stories were Michael Barber, G. K. Wuori (who also appears in this issue), Andrea Braxton, Bruce Graham, and Okechukwu Otukwu. Congrats to them, and congrats, too, to former contributors Lou Gaglia, Clifford Garstang, and Tim Horvath, who also made the list.
Another former contributor, Dolan Morgan, wrote to say that his new collection short story collection, That's When the Knives Come Down, will be published next summer. If the rest of the work in there is as wonderfully odd, evocative, and provocative as the piece we featured awhile back ("How to Have Sex on Other Planets"), that's going to be one interesting read.
This issue has been elevated by the contributions of Phillip Stearns, whose digital and fiber art is visually pleasing and thought provoking, sometimes blurring the "lines" between what is digital and what is fiber. A big shout out to our Design Editor, Elise Pfau, for yet another great find.
Anne and Jennifer will have some things to say about the fiction and poetry in this issue below. It's a pretty darned amazing issue, and that includes the nonfiction and reviews as well (and let's not forget that weird—good weird!—little piece in the Humor section by Tripp Reade). I'll just mention in closing that Thomas J. Hubschman's essay in the Salon is fantastic, and I urge folks who might otherwise overlook it to instead look it over.
As always, thanks for reading, and I sincerely hope you enjoy this issue as much as I did putting it together!
From Gilbert S. Purdy, Review Editor
Hello, I'm the new Review Editor at Eclectica. At present, Ann Skea and I would seem to be the only regular reviewers. I would like to invite anyone who might read this to send along reviews of books, art, music, cultural organizations, companies and events, local regional and national, and cultural crit pieces on the same. Feel free to do so as a one-off or more or less regularly as works for you. I look forward to expanding the review/interview section, during the months ahead, to include a wide range of lively, insightful (even quirky) cultural crit. I hope you will stop by to read and/or submit.
From Jennifer Finstrom, Poetry Editor
Welcome to fall, everyone! This season can be an especially busy time, particularly for those writers out there who also teach (like me). Nonetheless, I'm always amazed at the volume of poetry submissions we receive, in all seasons of the year, and how much exciting work is being generated even when we have so many other things tugging at our attention. But really, I think, at least in my case, that the more I have to occupy me, the more rapidly the ideas come.
I want to give another shout out to the Word Poem special feature here, and I really hope to see it continue to grow and thrive. We have some returning voices this issue, but also a new one in Candace Butler. All of the poems (in the issue in general and the Word Poem special feature) are so different in what the poets are writing about and how they are situating themselves in the poems. Butler's poem, "Ariadne Asks Daedalus for a Map," places the reader immediately inside of Ariadne, when " The question she wants to ask most / is a lump in her throat." This act of grounding us in the physical made me eager to follow Ariadne through the door that opens in the next stanza of the poem. Which brings me to one of my favorite things to do with the Word Poem section: see how the four pre-chosen words are used in different ways. "Question" was indeed one of the words, and in Butler's poem, it is used to bring us into Ariadne. Ray Templeton's "Biography" also uses it as a jumping off point into the poem: "I had to write his life— / but all my questions / brought forth only lies." So as you read these poems, pay attention to what the poets have done with the four words—maybe that will inspire you to try the next Word Poem Challenge!
Among other new voices is Spotlight runner up Lainey S. Cronk, whose three poems delighted me by how they move from crows and, in "Alarm," a "small black bug," to a wider panoramic view that includes both an awareness of "every blackness of every raincloud" and "a soul with my name." I left these poems with an increased awareness of how small things can open effortlessly into larger things, leaving the small things, the crows and the bugs, irrevocably changed in how we view them.
Before I close, I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate poet Mihir Vatsa, who just this month won the 5th Srinivas Rayaprol Poetry Prize. Vatsa is making his third appearance in this issue of Eclectica, so check out "Konar, 1995" in the Word Poem Special Feature. And, congratulations again to Mihir!
From Anne Leigh Parrish, Fiction Editor
We swing headlong into fall with amazing fiction! The quality, variety, and depth of what comes our way seems to get better each quarter. Here, as is so often the case with great writing, the ways of the human heart as it hungers for another holds sway.
Karissa Chen, our Spotlight Contender Runner-Up, gives us a strange, haunting tale about love and courtship in "The Testimony of Jayce B." that could take place in the future, the distance past, or even on another planet that is similar enough to ours so that we feel right at home. Love becomes obsessive and surreal, but no less powerful in Caroline Kepnes' fine novella, "Owen in Her Head." Obsessive, and this time very quirky love, engages us in G. K. Wuori's "I Always Thought Marjorie Was Okay." In "And The Cunning Heart Whispers," by Rebeka Singer, love is on the more familiar ground of despair and denial, yet marvelously elevated by exquisite prose. Love as painful memory that resonates with longing and loss hits us head on in Paula McGrath's "Yehudit." Passion survives passing years and social upheal in the delicately rendered "Annette and Florian" by Beate Sigriddauther. Trust, betrayal, and the trials of romance are skillfully highlighted by Dennis Kaplan in "Of Job's Tears."
Love is not the only focus for us, however, as we soon see in the wildly inventive, surrealistic "The President's Phone" by Jon Fried. Brevity works its magic in "Elephants" by Jennifer Dunn and "The Privilege of Distance" by Avital Gad-Cykman, two stories are are short on words and long on impact. Small-town paranoia, which has little to do with love and everything to do with fear of the unknown, grabs hard and won"t let us go in An Tran's "The Grinning Man."
So throw another log on the fire, sit back, and let yourself be ferried away into the many gorgeous worlds that make up our fall fiction section.