Oct/Nov 2021

From the Editors

Artwork borrowed from Unsplash.com

Artwork borrowed from Unsplash.com

From Tom Dooley, Managing and Fiction Editor

Welcome to the last issue of Eclectica's 25th year online. We're celebrating our silver anniversary, but in anticipation of hanging around for another quarter century, I decided to go with more of a golden theme for the artwork.

The celebration is bittersweet, however, as we mark the departure of longtime Nonfiction, Travel, and Miscellany editor David Ewald, who's been with us for nearly a decade but has decided to spend less time online and more time present in his family's daily life—a decision for which I cannot fault him, and I wish him all the best. David has put in some really strong work, not only selecting fantastic pieces every issue (this one is no exception), but producing a stellar best of anthology for our 20th anniversary. He always got his work in ahead of deadlines and approached everything he did with dedication and professionalism. It was a pleasure to work with him, and I'm glad we got to meet in person at the San Francisco Hoopla he organized a few years ago. He will be missed.

With David's departure, the Eclectica staff is definitely in need of some reinforcements. David himself was holding down three slots, and we're still looking for someone (or two someones) to fill Gilbert Purdy's shoes as Review and Interview Editor. We could also use a copyeditor, and I'm open to sharing the Fiction section with a coeditor. Who knows, maybe we could create new "positions" if someone wants to be a part of the magazine in ways we haven't thought of yet. If anyone reading this is interested in doing a lot of work for minimal recognition and no pay—or knows someone who would—please drop me a line. The perks are the usual virtual corner office, a fair amount of job satisfaction, and a chance to be a part of an obscure but (I think) pretty cool little slice of history.

Speaking of making history, we don't publish a lot of humor or satire, and it's even more rare that a piece in that section of the magazine is elevated to spotlight status. As in, it hasn't happened in 25 years. At least, I don't think it has. My memory is pretty suspect, though, so if someone wants to factcheck this assertion, I'd love to be corrected. In the meantime, enter our newest Spotlight Author Tom Noyes and his piece "Zeitgeist!" which oddly captures ("oddly captures" being a phrase I think applies to most good satire) life in the 21st century, with or without the pandemic.

Kudos to the other two Spotlight honorees, Lakshmi Arya Thathachar in Poetry, now making her sixth appearance in Eclectica, and M. M. Adjarian in Nonfiction, making her first.

I want to mention a few things going on with former contributors and friends of Eclectica. Jason Sanford, who founded both storySouth Magazine and the Million Writers Award, recently published his debut novel Plague Birds with Apex Press. Christy Hallberg also has a debut novel out, Searching for Jimmy Page, from Livingston Press. Meanwhile, our longtime (as in, pretty much forever) reviewer Ann Skea has published Ted Hughes: The Poetic Quest with the University of New England Press.

Closer to home, Deya Bhattacharya was our nominee for the PEN/Robert J Dau Short Story Award for Emerging Writers, as well as one of our nominees for Sundress Best of the Net. Our complete list of BoTN nominees were as follows: "Sparrow" by Sharon McDermott, "The Genius of Men" by Joanna Collins, "My Kitchen" by Carolyn Wilsey, "blues" by Claretta Holsey, "Tableau" by Prathim Maya Dora-Laskey, "Missed Connection" by Cat Dixon, "No Thyself" by David Raney, "Letter to a Friend" by Kassidy McIntosh, "Where Are You Going? Where Am I Going?" by Jonathan Truong, and "Knocker" by the aforementioned Deya Bhattacharya. We also nominated two visual artists, Andres Amador and Baird Stiefel. Congrats and gratitude to them all.

If you have news you'd like to share, please send me an email. You can also check out our Facebook page (and/or join our Facebook Group, Eclectica Magazine extended "family," where you can see what others are up to or post your own good news.


From Evan Martin Richards, Poetry Editor

Hello and welcome to the Fall 2021 issue!

This issue boasts a gallery of returning authors, functioning as a reunion of sorts. We welcome a few first-time contributors as well, including Autumn McClintock and Cordelia Hanemann in the Poetry section and Susan Bloch-Welliver in the Word Challenge feature.

The poetry section opens with McClintock's Tanka, a sonnet-like Japanese form with a prominent syllable pattern, on a dirt-sodden avian urban dweller. Russell Rowland, first appearing in Eclectica in 2020, investigates the role of the harvest months and winter in our modern world in "Autumn Now and Then." Virginia Bach Folger (first appearing in 2018) contributes "A Little Brown Book," a meditation on time, travel, and the trappings of letters. Cordelia Hanemann gives us "Broken Dream," a ruminous pre-dawn poem featuring one silent piano and one unsilent rooster. Long-time Eclectica alum Christine Potter (first appearing in 2003) provides an ode to the natural world over seafood dinner in "Cooking Jambalaya for a Dinner Party in a Maine Cottage." And congratulations to Spotlight–Runner-Up Lakshmi Arya Thathachar (first appearing in 2017), who returns with her "The Loss of a Muse," a pithy piece on language and longing.

The Word Challenge feature—all including the provided words "wood," "trip," "receive," and "tree"—opens with returning poet Corinna Schulenburg's reflection on transformation "What the Lumberjack Knows." Susan Bloch-Welliver contributes "Trip." Another Eclectica institution, Barbara De Franceschi (first appearing in 2003), channels the Australian outback with "Boundary Rider." Mala Rai (first appearing in 2019) explores memory vis a vis washtub in "distillation." Closing things out, past Poetry Editor Jennifer Finstrom returns to our pages with "Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve: One Year Later," a successor to her piece of the same name published last winter.

The words for next issue's Word Challenge are "reach," "mind," "shade," and "back." I look forward to reading your submissions!

Happy reading and Happy Holidays!


From David Ewald, Nonfiction, Travel, and Miscellany Editor

Simone Biles and Olympic gymnastics. Naomi Osaka and tennis. Representative Anthony Gonzalez and politics. The US military and Afghanistan. My son and taekwondo. They all, like Renee in that song by The Left Banke, walked away. Quit. Or took a break, an extended leave of absence. With these words, my final editor's note, I join their ranks. This is my last issue as the Nonfiction, Travel, and Miscellany editor for Eclectica Magazine. It's been a great run, and I want to give a huge shout out and hearty thanks to Tom Dooley for having me aboard.

Nine years ago, in the summer of 2012, when I was younger and childless and dangerously ambitious, I answered Tom's call for a nonfiction editor. It was the right move at that time in my life, and I threw myself into the work. I accepted many, rejected many more, wrote many an editor's note, created and ran Eclectica's blog when it made sense to have one, created and managed Eclectica's Twitter feed—and did it all with a sense of purpose and faith in the future of my online life.

And then this past summer, still in the pandemic, my father's death still in my heart, traveling with my family, I realized the truth: I was living two lives. One life, my online life, had existed since the mid-2000s. In this life I was an emerging (always emerging) writer who had published several works of fiction and nonfiction and was always a day, a week, a month, a year away from making it—landing the agent, signing the book deal, seeing that screenplay picked up. In this life, my online life of writing and editing, my family was secondary, an afterthought. Some days I might as well not have had a family.

And then there was my other life, my real life, the life I've decided on, that of my wife and sons and teaching and traveling. In this life what I am is what I truly am; no pretending, no fooling, only the right kind of struggling. This summer I saw I could no longer sustain my two lives, and my online life had to go.

I will miss Eclectica. I will miss the Eclectica readers. I will miss the submissions, the gems, the diamonds I helped cut and polish. These past nine years have taught me so much about writing and about myself, knowledge I wish I'd gained ten years before I took the position with Eclectica.

But it's time to walk away. My priorities have shifted. My sons are older now, headed for a crucial time. I want to be there for them. I don't want to live online.

And with that I take my leave. I wish you all the best. You have sustained me for so long. This will be a difficult walk, but it will be a walk worth taking.