Photo by Chris Epting
From Tom Dooley, Managing and Fiction Editor
It was bound to happen. Eclectica has now melded with Facebook, at least insomuch as the remarkable images accompanying the work in this issue were discovered in the photo albums of Eclectica's Facebook "friends." Special thanks to Leeca Desforges, Dorothee Lang, Chris Epting, Brice Barrett, David Graham, Kristen Merola, Mary Shutak-Jenkins, Dianne Borsenik, Russell Bittner, Kris Gurksnis, Austin Robinson, Rose Hunter, Michael K. White and Rob Klurfield for bringing so much vivacity to bear.
Vivid imagery and colorful expression aren't limited to the photographs in this issue, of course. Poetry editor Jennifer Finstrom had these thoughts to share:
As I was making my poetry selections for this issue, I noticed that several of the poems depicted either working in gardens or interacting with the natural world. In addition, three of the poems reference forget-me-nots in some way: not only is it the title of one of Marjorie Mir's poems, but forget-me-nots are the final image of Bob Bradshaw's "Cutting Down the Backyard Trees."
Little blue flowers appear in spotlight poet Kathleen Kirk's poem garden in "Poem to be Placed in the Middle of a Manuscript of Flower Poems, Written on a Wednesday, Garbage Day, in Normal, Illinois," right after she mentions that "these poems are not about flowers." Now, this is the first line of Kirk's poem, which leads the reader to ask immediately what these poems are about. In Kirk's second stanza, she goes on to say, "Surely, these poems are about me," and here it is the use of "surely" that calls this assessment into question and begs us to look more deeply.
While the presence of the forget-me-nots hints at memory and the encapsalation of time past in a poem, I find a further moment of clarity in Mir's flower poem when she writes of "a borrowed garden," and that "it may be all are borrowed, / only briefly ours." This, I think, is the crux of the matter. It may be that Mir is right and that all gardens are borrowed gardens, but through the combination of poetry and memory, it no longer matters if a garden is overgrown and forgotten. In Bradshaw's poem, it is the cutting down of trees that make something new visible, and he ends the poem by asking himself: "Who knew that the hills were ablaze / with the blue sparks of wild / forget-me-nots?"
For my part, I thoroughly enjoyed picking out the stories and pieces in the Fiction, Nonfiction, and Travel sections, but I'd have a tough time linking them together thematically. In fact, they represent exactly what I strive for in a given issue of Eclectica, which is hard stops and big leaps. However, I'm aware this sort of variety isn't everyone's cup of tea. It occurred to me the other day after talking to a friend at work about what he enjoyed reading, that the very idea embodied by the word "eclectic" isn't necessarily what many people like. Such folks prefer nonfiction to fiction, 500-page novels to short stories, collections of short stories and poems that link together in some kind of cycle to "Best of" anthologies, magazines that serve a particular genre and issues that focus on particular themes...
Constantly having to start over, re-orient, and re-immerse with every piece of writing is for many readers un-enjoyable, tedious, even exhausting.
I confess that I'd never thought about all this before. I just strive with each issue to present the best material that comes my way—according to my subjective idea of what "best material" means, of course—and I happen to find variety invigorating. I love jumping from Alice Whittenburg's multi-POV sci-fi story "A New Definition of Treason" to "Grandma's Baptism," Jekwu Anyaegbuna's first person tale of Catholic dogmaticism in Africa, to Justin Hamm's flash / short-short fiction "Home Again." I'll let the rest of this colorful patchwork speak for itself, but every transition to a new piece of writing in this issue is sure to cause discomfort for those aforementioned conservative readers.
Some quick updates on the exploits of former contributors (and current editors!)...
Bob Thurber's novel, Paperboy: A Dysfunctional Novel, is due to be released in May. Our Interview Editor, Elizabeth Glixman, has a chapbook out called Cowboy Writes a Letter & Other Love Poems. Jared Carter recently started a blog called Rushing the Growler, and his fifth book of poems, A Dance in the Street, will be released this coming Fall. Yermiyahu Taub has a new book out called Uncle Feygele. Nicholas Hogg announced he has an "official" Facebook page set up, a twitter account, and his second novel, The Hummingbird and the Bear, is due for release at the end of May. Sharon F. McDermott made the list of finalists for the Sundress Best of the Net Anthology with her poem "Crows: The Yard." And finally, a big congratulations to Lior Klirs, Eric Maroney, and Trevor Wadlow, whose stories ("In Vivo," "The Incorrupt Body of Carlo Busso," and "A Quiet Girl," respectively) all made the list of Notable Stories for storySouth's 2010 Million Writers Award.
A big thanks to everyone who continues to read, contribute to, and support Eclectica.