Excerpted imagery from photography by Kris Saknussemm
From Tom Dooley, Managing and Fiction Editor
The first thing that jumps out at a reader about this issue is the striking imagery "lifted" from Kris Saknussemm's photography. I've known Kris as an author and Facebooker, but what I didn't know till recently is how prolific a shutterbug he is. He was kind enough to let me play around with a batch of his more abstract, color- and texture-oriented pieces to achieve what I hope is a cohesive and provocative look. Many thanks to Kris!
Maybe the next thing to note is that newly minted Poetry Editor Evan Richards has wasted no time making his presence felt. Not only is this a packed issue, poetry-wise, but Evan has really infused our pages with a passel of authors appearing in Eclectica for the first time. Fifteen of them, I believe, which has got to be a new record.
Also noteworthy are Spotlight Author Melissa Knox and runners-up Eli S. Evans and Steven Deutsch. Regarding Eli, my nomination for the fiction section, this is his second appearance in Eclectica. He last graced our pages in 2004 with his story "Second Place in the Vanity Fair Essay Contest." This time around, Eli decided to break one of my cardinal rules (no stories about writing stories), and he got away with it. I think he pulls it off because the story isn't really about writing a story till the last line, and for me it was much more about trying to make sense of one's past experiences—the stories we tell ourselves as we go through life—than about the writer's craft. Certainly, there were some indelible moments than rang true to me and made "Near Misses in Madrid" stand out amongst another scintillating group of short stories (and a novel!).
There are seven other pieces in the fiction section, and they're remarkably different from each other in tone, subject matter, length, and style. They're also all newcomers, with the exception of Finn Harvor, who published a poem with us in 2012 and is now gifting us with the aforementioned novel, The Business Army. Welcome back, Finn! I hope Seth Cable, Douglas Gower, Rebecca Mark, Arthur Davis, Mishra Pranav, and Frederick Highland will "come back and see us sometime," too.
Be sure to check out Kelsey Rexroat's piece in the humor section, "Submit." Also Thomas J. Hubschman's typically incisive and thought-provoking piece in the Salon.
David Ewald brought us another strong nonfiction section, to include the aforementioned Spotlight winner Melissa Knox, as well as longtime contributor Peter Bridges, former travel contributor Lygia Ballantyne, and newcomers Sydney Lea and Guinotte Wise. David also found a nifty travel piece by Caleb Gonzalez and a singular entry in the miscellany section by N.N. Trakakis.
I also want to give a quick shout out and congrats to Ryan Blacketter, who let us know his second novel, Horses All Over Hell, has been accepted by his publisher. We wish him and all our former contributors the best with their publishing endeavors.
Thanks to everyone who edited, submitted and contributed to, and/or is now checking out this issue. I hope you find lots to enjoy, and that the summer of 2019 is a good one for you.
From Gilbert Wesley Purdy, Review Editor
In this issue, Carole Mertz reviews Judy Swann's Fool. We also have Peter Amos's new essay "Mr. Sammler's Planet and Cognitive Dissonance." Many thanks to Ann Skea for her raft of new reviews.
I've added reviews of my own of the late W. S. Merwin's The Mays of Ventadorn and Ursula K. Le Guin's So Far So Good: Final Poems. My column this issue is a further comment on Merwin's life, comparing and contrasting it just a bit to the life of the poets who have come after him.
As always, 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 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 Evan Martin Richards, Poetry Editor
Spring is here, and there's no better time to dive into an issue chock-full of poems!
The poetry section starts out with a spring-y collection of Haiku and a sun-filled ekphrastic poem, both by Fiona Tinwei Lam, that are sure to evoke visions of light and new growth. Though winter was long—at least for us Chicagoans— the bright weather has me already forgetting the ilk of snow-white hills and glistening wet gutters that can be found in Alina Hansen's "I Don't Remember." The springtime energy continues through the desert sands of Barbara De Franceschi's "Strange Waters" and the singing rain of Don Pomerantz's "Sun Shower in Peekskill."
Of course, the season of new beginnings is only one side of the coin; it seems spring, too, provides us with a time to reflect on loss, change, and mourning, on times of transition and on the inevitable close behind each opening of a new chapter. Several pieces in this issue dive into these themes, including Karen Shepherd's "A Well," Cameron Morse's "Temozolomide," and Kathleen Latham's "Taking Care of Dad, After Mom."
But if the weight of endings and beginnings starts to burden, perhaps one could rediscover the mystery of the world through sleeping giants hidden by mountains in Don Thompson's "Antediluvian Speculations (St. Augustine)." Or one could take a line from Lisa McMonagle's "Dreamscape" and learn to accept what they don't understand in order to go on. Or one could imagine the peals of joy of a kindergarten classroom awash with little lion roars, as penned by Spotlight Runner-Up Steven Deutsch's "Lion's Breath."
So join us in enjoying this season's bounty of poetry— and in looking forward to the wonderful work our writers will bring in summer!