From Tom Dooley, Managing and Fiction Editor
I thought going in that this would be a sparse, pared down issue, and it's true that there are fewer fiction pieces than usual (four, rather than the ten or so that often make it through the selection process), and perhaps the issue isn't bursting at the seams, but really, it's crossed the finish line much like any other: lots of very good, very varied stuff to read.
R. J. Koshar's "Blues Falling Down Like Hail" is an inspired little bit of "historical" fiction. The Nonfiction section has a quartet of returning former contributors, including V.K. Reiter's fascinating account of her encounter with Salvador Dali, accompanied by a treasure of a photograph from the actual meeting. Jonterri Gadson introduces us to Saeed Jones via an interview that displays, front and center, Jones' thoughtful and thought-provoking voice. Not to be outdone, Kimberly L. Becker interviews not just Allison Adelle Hedge Coke, but her son Travis as well, and then follows up with a review of Hedge Coke's new anthology of indigenous American writing, Sing.
If all that were the extent of this issue, I'd be proud as heck, but here it's just the tip of the literary iceberg. We've got Jascha and Julia Braun Kessler, William Reese Hamilton, and many others.
Jude Goodwin, a returning contributor who first appeared in Eclectica in 2003, is our Spotlight author, and she leads a baker's dozen poets, some new to our pages, many of whom we've met before.
Speaking of folks we've met before, in contributor news, Caroline Kepnes, aka Audrey Hart—whose story "Dave Says" appears in this issue—has a young adult novel, The Dig, that has been tearing up the Amazon Kindle Best Seller list for young adult Greek myth theme literature. Janelle Elyse Kihlstrom published a new chapbook, Blue Trajectory, through Dancing Girl Press, and An Amateur Marriage by Jessie Carty is available from Finishing Line Press.
It's a nice way to start off the New Year, to be able to present to you our 71st issue. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together.
From Jennifer Finstrom, Poetry Editor
Like Tom, I agree that this first issue of 2012 was a great pleasure to put together—a lot of good, varied work. But I have to say that I was amazed when I learned that this was the 71st issue. I know, of course, that Eclectica got its start 15 years ago and that for most of that time there have been four issues per year, but seeing the actual number gave me a shock. I have been the poetry editor since October/November of 2005 (Volume 9, Number 4), and looking back at that issue, I notice that both it and the current issue have two contributors in common. One of those contributors is Bob Bradshaw, who has appeared several times in both the regular Poetry section and in the special Word Poem section. Bradshaw's poems are in many different voices and personas, but looking back through his work over the years, I notice that one thing many of his poems have in common is that they ask questions. Even if an assumed persona is addressing someone specific, the reader of the poem is nonetheless being questioned as well. I've always felt that Bradshaw's poems speak to the reader in a very conversational tone, and I think that this is in part due to the questions interspersed throughout his stanzas.
The second contributor whose work appears in both my first issue and this one is Jared Carter, and I wanted to mention as well that Carter's 2005 poem "Hide and Go Seek" was the first poem I selected as poetry editor. In the current issue, Carter has two short poems, "Schoolhouse" and "Slug." Carter asks questions in his poems as well, but in this case, the fact that the poems are written in form provides some narrative distance between speaker and reader. This narrative distance seems to me essential to the reader's perception of both the old schoolhouse and the slug's path.
Finally, I'd like to mention our Spotlight Author Jude Goodwin. About Goodwin's poems, I wanted to note how she takes the everyday and carefully turns it to a different angle. Her four poems in this issue have as their respective foci gravity, piano music, wind, and snow—all at times prosaic things. But Goodwin's poems arrested me, particularly the end of "Her Music," where the speaker of the poem is watching her daughter practice piano. I did not expect the piano keys to become "a dozen young men / holding black and white horses" or that they would interact with the girl and "call out to her / Away. Away."