Image: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
From Tom Dooley, Managing and Fiction Editor
It is with great appreciation and pride that I introduce Eclectica's 62nd issue, marking the end of our 13th year online. Appreciation for the hundreds of contributors and editors who have lent their words and efforts to the operation over the years, including the 40 generous souls who signed up for the current issue. Pride for the sheer obstinacy of it all. A few months ago I started telling people that we're the longest continually operating, purely online literary magazine on the web. I'm not 100% positive that's true, but until someone lays claim to a longer run, I'll keep saying it.
There's lots to be excited about in this issue, starting with the extraterrestrial flavor provided by images of the Martian surface like the one above, courtesy of NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the University of Arizona. Along with their striking beauty, these images capture and nurture the imagination. They represent that quintessential human pursuit: the next frontier. Mars is our next opportunity to better ourselves, to build that city, or in this case, planet, on the hill. Pictures of Mars, in all its otherworldly and yet oddly familiar glory, are an ideal match with the varied selection of poetry and prose this issue presents.
Heading up said writing are the thoughtful, measured verses of our Spotlight Author, Heather Styka. One of Heather's poems, "Amateur Astronomy," not only ties into the extraterrestrial theme, but as our Poetry Editor Jennifer Finstrom points out, it's one of several poems that deal with questions of landscape:
"Amateur Astronomy" shows how the same landscape—in this case the landscape of the constellations—can be viewed differently by father and daughter. "When he brings me with him," she writes, "we see/different skies."
Similarly, Jennifer noticed that Jan Seale’s poem “Stretch” begins by speaking of a poem as a field “with row on row of words,” while other poems in this issue are conscious of themselves as works of art and look to essential questions, such as, what is poetry? Michael VanCalbergh in "Dear Kristin" answers that question with the line, "Poems are Elijah."
In the fiction department, Ethan Bernard's "Voyage Back Into Space" certainly complements the Martian scenery. It could be considered the one feel good story of the bunch, although we're given only a "soft hope" at the end that our protagonists are in for anything more than a cold and lonely demise. The other stories in this issue are particularly tough, unapologetic, and steeped in the darker sides of human nature. Tom Kelly's "The Lookouts" and Ann Ang's "The Good Mother" are both energized by differing but equally intense sibling rivalries, and in fact the complicated relationship between brothers (or in the case of Jennifer Greidus' "Permanent Black Burn," lovers who are in many ways like brothers) plays a strong part in all of the pieces in this issue.
As has been the case since last year's Fall issue, I'm indebted to fiction co-editor in Tamara Brenno-Uribarri, who took time out from teaching an overload of courses at the University of New Mexico to once again help whittle down a richly diverse and collectively excellent batch of submissions.
While there aren't a lot of nonfiction, travel, miscellany, or humor pieces in this issue, the fact that we have at least one entry in each, along with the usual bevy of reviews and interviews, means this issue is as far ranging as ever. It's great to have Stanley Jenkins writing at full steam—he appears in both the Salon and in nonfiction, proving once again why he's placed more stories and essays in Eclectica than any other author.
In the news department, I'm pleased to announce Eclectica's nominees for this year's Sundress Best of the Net Anthology. For fiction, they are "Semolinian Equinox" by Svetlana Lavochkina and "Sexy, Hot, Sad, Tragic, Accident" by Krishan Coupland. For poetry, they are "What a View from the Top" by John Grey, "A Modern Synthesis" by Susan Slaviero, "Little Yellow God" by Amanda Latrenta Crane, "In a Calmer Year" by Don Pomerantz, "Mill Town" by Lori Lamothe, and "Campsite" by Aditi Machado.
I'm also pleased to announce our nominees for Dzanc Books' Best of the Web 2010. They are Lavochkina's "Semolinian Equinox" again, the story "Last Call" by Richard Larson, and "Milk Inside," a poem by Sarah Wetzel-Fishman. A hearty congratulations and best of luck to all.
For the past year and a half, I've been closing out my editor notes with an update on our adoption process. We've reached the final step in the Haitian paperwork. Unfortunately, we've been in that step since this past Spring, and it looks like we'll be very lucky if the kids are cleared for travel before Christmas. In the meantime, we are receiving monthly photos of Lise and Evans, the latest of which I've posted below. We sure miss the little buggers, and we hope we'll be bringing them home soon.
Best wishes and happy reading,