Textile Photo Art by Jeffrey Trespel
From Tom Dooley, Managing and Fiction Editor
One of the great things about editing Eclectica is the act of discovery. The images of various textiles and textures adorning this issue, captured by Jeffrey Trespel on his cell phone, are vivid examples of how beauty and objects of art are all around us. There are, of course, no shortage of online literary publications around us, either, nor is there a lack of unpublished poems, stories, essays... What I absolutely love, and what has laced the last 21 years of my life with pleasure, is finding pieces of art and writing I want to share with our readers. I've always felt if I had an issue with one poem in it I really loved, and one person read said issue and enjoyed said poem, it would all be a worthwhile use of my time.
Issues like this one are a far cry beyond that scenario, though. There is a lot to love here, beginning with our Spotlight Author Seth Lorinczi, whose nonfiction piece "Who Won the War?" illuminates yet another moving aspect of the most horrific chapter in human history. For me, Eli Cranor's Spotlight Runner-Up short story "Morning Crew" was also moving, perhaps moreso because I can relate to being an old guy playing a young man's pickup basketball game, and because one of our close family friends recently succumbed to a 16-year battle with cancer. This is Eli's second appearance in the magazine.
Our other Spotlight Runner-Up, poet Nancy Jentsch, is one of four authors in this issue who do double duty. She has work both in the Poetry section and the Word Poem section, joining Thomas J. Hubschman, who appears in both the Salon and the Fiction section, Robert Hilles in Poetry and Fiction, and Peter Bridges in Nonfiction and Fiction.
I have the pleasure each issue of putting together the Fiction and Humor sections, but it isn't always that a piece of writing moves me to laugh. Laughter may be the best medicine, but it's also the hardest to come by. This issue, we actually have two entries that made me laugh, one a pair of poems from Timothy Clutter and the other an unusually honest set of submission guidelines from Wells Woodman. Well, okay, one made me smile more than laugh, but because it's meant to be funny more in a clever, as opposed to a shocking or cathartic way. I'll leave it to the reader to determine which was which.
On the fiction front, of the authors already mentioned—Cranor, Hubschman, Hilles, and Bridges—only Hilles is new to our pages. He is joined by two other newcomers, Ames Cain and S. P. Tenhoff. As always, I'm thrilled to have a balance of fresh and familiar names in our table of contents. Perhaps the most familiar name of all is Stanley Jenkins, whose genre-defying Salon "essay," "Fiery Angels and Hungry Ghosts," represents both a return to form and a new departure for Stan, who is and has always been, in my humble opinion, one of the most distinctive voices in Eclectica, on the web, and across literature in general. It's great to have him aboard, along with Tom Hubschman, Bob Bradshaw, and Barbara De Franceschi, who have made so many indelible contributions to this publication, they might as well be on the masthead—if we had one!
Well, it's time for some brief updates on what some of our authors past and present have been up to outside of our pages: Ryan Blacketter, whose story "The Ice Festival" in this issue marks his second appearance in Eclectica, recently published an interesting opinion piece in The Observer titled "The Rebel Left Has Vanished—and Diversity of Thought Has Vanished With It." Dzanc Books announced the winner of the 2017 Dzanc Books Short Story Collection Prize, and it was White Dancing Elephants by Chaya Bhuvaneswar. Mad props to Chaya! Michael Catherwood's book of poems, Projector, was just published by Stephen F. Austin University Press. Bettie Corbitt Mims Nesta has been getting all kinds of attention for "Responsibility and Corruption on Elm Avenue." The story will appear a school textbook in Namibia with a planned distribution of 24,000 students, while a young Italian director has expressed interest in turning it into a film.
If you are a former contributor with some news to share, please drop me a line. Better yet, if you have a piece of writing that's so good, other publications aren't recognizing just how good it is, please send your work our way. As previously mentioned, we'll delight in discovering it.
From Gilbert S. Purdy, Review Editor
I'm delighted to welcome Dike Okoro back to the Eclectica Review Section again. For this issue he has reviewed The Three Books of Shama by Benjamin Kwakye. Thanks to Ann Skea, as always, for her insightful reviews.
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, national, and international—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 return 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
From David Ewald, Nonfiction and Miscellany Editor
2018. For many it's the Impeachment Year. For many others it's the year construction finally gets started on The Wall (no, not that wall... the other wall). Not to mention... are you even going to be able to access this site in the near future?
Aside from everything going on in America, we here at Eclectica start the year just as we start every year: looking for the best work we can find. For me, that goes especially for the Nonfiction section. I'm happy to see "Who Won the War?" by Seth Lorinczi got picked off and placed in the Spotlight Author section—well-deserved on Mr. Lorinczi's part. When I first read his essay, I had in mind many current events, but the beauty of "Who Won the War?" is it doesn't have to be about politics; it could be about a lot else—the personal, the private, the painful. I hope you'll find it as moving as I did.
But wait, there's more! In "Back There, Back Then," Michelle Cacho-Negrete runs with the boys, Gregory Stephenson holds "An Audience with the Emperor of Midnight," and Peter Bridges recounts how one particular, peculiar American diplomat fell victim to the goons ("James and the Goons").
They're out there—the goons, I mean. Maybe this will be their year after all.