Photo by Ann Ang
From Jennifer Finstrom, Poetry Editor
After the selection process, I always find myself looking for correspondences between the poems. Sometimes these are subtle associations, a recurring image or theme, but sometimes a much broader connection seems to have occurred.
In this issue's poetry section, the spectrum moves from ethereal to subterranean. Not one, but two poems about the continuing influence of the Muses appear in this issue. Marjorie Mir describes how the Muses left their traditional home and spread out into the world, one of them teaching her children (and presumably poets, as well) "how to see until they understood /everything and nothing." Oliver Rice, on the other hand, begins his poem "Arena" by asking a question: "Where do the muses live?" He goes on to answer, "wherever there is receptivity."
But poetry doesn't always take place in the ether; poets find inspiration beneath the earth as well. Two poems reference miners and mining in very different ways. Michelle Harris writes of how the woman in "The Mushroom Miner" descends and "presses the blade / halfway down the gray-white throat." And Ken Poyner, in "The Miner," examines the world from the perspective of the mine canary, the "encirclement of bars /And the sooty faces going randomly past."
Finally, I see David Oestreich's "Having Forgotten My Notebook" as a composite of this spectrum. Any poet without the means to record an experience might fear that "this thought / may disappear forever," but the earthworm (itself a visitor from the subterranean) that the poem's narrator is watching is nonetheless recorded safely as it moves "toward / some dark tuft of meaning." Of course it is not only the earthworm that moves in that direction, but the poet as well, and ultimately it matters very little if inspiration is found in the ethereal past or the concrete present underneath our feet.
From Tom Dooley, Managing and Fiction Editor
I'm not sure if I'm more relieved that I finally got this issue done, or more excited about how it finally came out.
I will say this: it took a long, long time. I suppose I shouldn't call it the "Jul/Aug" issue in good conscience, having missed July altogether.
But I will also say that there are some very special things going on in this issue, proving the old adage about "better late than never."
One of those special things is immmediately visible in the outstanding photographs accompanying the issue's poems, stories, and essays. Like Ann Ang's photo above, they were culled from Facebook friends' albums, and they include images taken by Brice Barrett, Ashlee Elizabeth Bellows, Haresh Bhojwani, Sara Catterall, John Tiong Chunghoo, Allison Adelle Hedge Coke, Leeca Desforges, Chris Epting, Michaela A. Gabriel, David Graham, Dina Greenberg, William Reese Hamilton, Joy Harjo, Claire Ibarra, Mike L. James, Veniel Jean, Dorianne Laux, Clinton Northway, Peter Witte, and the aforementioned Ann Ang. I'm extremely grateful to these folks for sharing their pics, and I'm grateful for the Facebook technology that enables this kind of collaboration.
What a great issue this is, from Dennis Must's spotlight fiction, "The Gentleman Caller" (Dennis last appeared in Eclectica in September of 1999!) to Leo Gerard's comprehensive interview with Norman Ball (himself a two-time contributor), there's plenty to be excited about. We have some of the "regulars" back, including Jascha and Julia Braun Kessler in the Nonfiction section, William Reese Hamilton in Travel, Stanley Jenkins and Thomas J. Hubschman in the Salon, Gilbert Purdy and Kimberly L. Becker in Reviews and Interviews, and Alex Shishin in Fiction. This is Alex's third appearance in Eclectica, by the way, and it's his second "Booger Eater" story, for those who are counting boogers.
Given how lucky we are to have so many "repeat offenders," it's especially remarkable that seven of the eight authors in the Fiction section are new to Eclectica. They represent a healthy cross section of world geography, too, not to mention variety of just about every other sort. Want flash fiction? There's Jonathan Pinnock's "Special Relativity." Want post apocalyptic speculative fiction? Rupan Malakin's "Stillborn" will do the very grim trick. How about "Gamer" fiction? Paul Zakaras' "Death Ximple" is probably the last story about playing a first-person shooter that will ever appear in this publication. And if you're looking for a story that's as straightforward as its title—and an equally blunt assessment of midlife relationship crisis—then Eileen Bordy's "Two Couples on Coke" is the tale for you. And like the famous Ginsu knife ad, there's much, much more!
It was a great Spring for Eclectica alums, with Eric Maroney's "The Incorrupt Body of Carlo Busso" winning Runner-up honors in the Million Writers Award, while Thomas Lee was the winner of the first ever Ploughshares Emerging Writers competition. G.K. Wuori's new novella, Now That I'm Ready To Tell You Everything, was published by Vagabondage Press LLC. David Ewald's novel in stories, He Who Shall Remain Shameless, is now available on Amazon's Kindle, and Bob Thurber's Paperboy: A Dysfunctional Novel also came out this Spring. Meanwhile, the aforementioned Jonathan Pinnock's Mrs. Darcy Versus the Aliens is imminent, and Laura Ellen Scott wrote to say that her novel Death Wishing will be coming out in October.
Kudos to those authors and all the other folks out there working hard.
As always, I want to thanks everyone who continues to read, contribute to, and support Eclectica. And I'd like to close with an invitation for more people to become active participants in this site. Particularly, our Interview Editor, Elizabeth Glixman, has asked me to encourage folks to submit interviews and ideas for interviews.
We also have a couple virtual corner offices and company cars available to anyone who would like to take on the challenge of being a travel or nonfiction editor. Aspiring web design wizzes who would like to take on the challenge of giving us an HTML facelift? Please step forward. Similarly, if there is an MPA or MBA candidate out there interested in helping us set up a non-profit corporation, I'd be psyched to hear from you. Eclectica has survived this long because of talented and dedicated folks who have selflessly contributed their services, and if there are more such people out there who would like to become a part of our history and steer us toward the next fifteen years, I'm encouraging them to take the plunge and send me an email.