Jan/Feb 2022

From the Editors

Artwork by Dale Bridges

Artwork by Dale Bridges

From Tom Dooley, Managing and Fiction Editor

Welcome to the first issue of 2022, our 26th year online. Noticeably, our staff for this issue has gotten almost as small as it can get. With the departure of longtime editors David Ewald and Gilbert Purdy, we're now just down to Evan Richards and myself. Thankfully, I'm happy to announce Stuart Ross is our new Review and Interview Editor starting with the Mar/Apr 2022 issue (more about him in a second). We're still looking for someone (or ones) to helm the nonfiction side of the house (to include Travel and Miscellany). So, if you're reading this and always wanted to work for years for no fortune and very little fame, or you know someone who is both literate and masochistic, please drop me a line and we'll see about getting you one of our many virtual corner offices.

"Happy to announce" doesn't quite do justice to how fortunate we are to have Stuart on our masthead.

Stuart, not the Canadian author of the same name but the one from Queens, went to The City University of New York and The University of Notre Dame and is the author of the novel Jenny in Corona. He has published stories, interviews, reviews, and poetry in BULL, DIAGRAM, Gapers Block, the Good Men Project, Medium, Necessary Fiction, The Stockholm Review of Literature, and others. In addition to helming the Review and Interview section, he'll be managing Eclectica's social media footprint, particularly Twitter. The latter is a milieu I have almost zero understanding of myself, so I'm grateful Stuart has agreed to take that on. You can check out his work in our archives—he was the Spotlight Author of the Jul/Aug 2016 issue—or in the Review section of this issue, where he provides a thoughtful and concise breakdown of his favorite books of 2021.

This is not to say Eclectica's pages aren't pretty strong and rich already. There may be a dearth of editors at the moment, but there's no shortage of talented writers or sparkling work. Short-staffed as we were, I enjoyed selecting pieces for the Salon, Review, Nonfiction, Travel, and Miscellany sections, as well as putting together the Fiction section. I have to say, while it's of course more time and effort, getting an opportunity to read the full spectrum of writing (there's even a poem in Miscellany by Gilbert Allen!) is extremely rewarding.

Dale Bridges (no relation to Peter!) appeared in five issues back in the 90s, and I've been friends with him on Facebook for a while now. After being repeatedly impressed with the paintings he's been posting, I asked him if he'd be down to have his artwork featured in this issue. I'm super psyched he said yes. Dale is consistently modest about his skills, but I think his work is darned good!

The Spotlight this issue is on Marko Fong, who previously appeared in the Fiction section of Jul/Aug 2010. Also a friend on Facebook, Marko recently posted a fascinating take on Critical Race Theory from an Asian perspective, and I hoped he would consider publishing it in our Salon section. It turned out to be such a strong piece, it wound up in the Spotlight for Nonfiction, making this the first time a Salon piece has been so recognized (though certainly not the first time a Salon piece could have been). It's now my hope (no pressure!) Marko joins Thomas Hubschman as a Salon regular.

Susan Sink and Kandala Singh are our Spotlight Runners-Up: Susan for her short story "The Bear of Tallgrass Reservation," and Kandala for her poem "All That Angrezi." "Bear" is a story steeped in place and imagery, two things I'm a sucker for as both a reader and an editor, and Susan is part of a full Fiction section I hope our readers will enjoy.

I'm not generally a sucker for historical fiction, nor have I ever been particularly fascinated by ancient Rome, but Peter Bridges' historical novel, The Adventure of Aulus, really worked for me. Not only is it an engrossing, meticulously researched, beautifully detailed piece of work, but I found it sneaking into my thoughts and daily life in ways I didn't expect. It's a cliche at this point to compare the United States to a decaying Ancient Rome, and yet, how can you not, especially when a work like Peter's brings the latter into such sharp relief, and you realize—you knew it before, but now you can feel it—how those ancient Romans and such were literally just like us, and the intervening centuries have been no time at all.

Like Peter Bridges, who appears in two different sections of this issue (Fiction and Poetry), shout out to Molly Blumhoefer for placing pieces in both Miscellany and Poetry. And also like Peter, a former Spotlight Author, shout out to Robert Earle (featured author of the Jan/Feb 2020 issue) for making a triumphant return with the substantial "The Last Five-Year Club."

I'd like to say something about every author and piece in this issue, but this note is already too long, so I'll close by sharing some news of past contributors, members of what I refer to as the Eclectica extended family.

Mary Beth Hines published her debut poetry collection, Winter at a Summer House, this past November. One of the poems in the collection, "Working From Home During a Storm," appeared in our Jan/Feb 2020 issue. Soma Mei Sheng Frazier has been busy directing the student-run publication Subnivean at SUNY Oswego, where she is an assistant professor of English and creative writing. Subnivean was nominated for a 2021 Firecracker Award for Best Debut Magazine. Soma recently said something about her debut novel being sold to her "dream editor" at Holt, so we look forward to hearing more about that development. William Han is producing The Master of Demon Gorge: A Chinese History Podcast, so after enjoying his story "The Movie Theater" in this issue, be sure to check it out. And finally, Christy Alexander Hallberg recently learned her novel Searching for Jimmy Page won American Writing Awards in the categories Best New Fiction and Fiction: General. Congratulations to her for that!

Learn more about what Eclectica contributors have been up to by joining our Facebook group. or following our aforementioned, soon to be revived Twitter account, @EclecticaMag.

Enjoy this issue, and may the new year bring you more good than bad.


From Evan Martin Richards, Poetry Editor

Hello, Happy New Year, and welcome to the first issue of 2022!

The Poetry section kicks off the year with returning authors Rachel Dacus, Peter Bridges, and David Sapp. It also introduces first-time Eclectica poets Adam Day, Molly Anne Blumhoefer, Robert Detman, and Spotlight Runner-Up Kandala Singh. Poetry brings many forms of joy, but one of my favorites—especially with winter weather and re-escalating public health concerns encouraging us to shelter indoors— is the way in which it transports us through place. This issue brings us to misty vineyards and wild berry patches, to elm-lined streets and everglade swamps, thundering auditoriums and mountainside waters. I hope you enjoy getting lost in the section's poetry as I have!

I'm always excited to see what common threads and motifs emerge from the randomly selected words in each issue's Word Poem Challenge. With words like "mind," "back," and "shade," the section takes on a meditative tilt. I was particularly intrigued by the way this issue's poets used the provided words to ground reflection into detailed and engaging pieces. "Reach"—coming to represent longing and loss, beginnings and ends—finds its way into the issue's poetry as chord shape, near-miss, the name of both newborn and (quite literally) airborne birthplace. Make sure to spend time with the work of returning author Miriam Kotzin and six new-to-Eclectica poets, Kimm Brockett Stammen, Kelly Burdick, Tom Nakasako, Adrienne Pilon, Jayanthi Rangan, and Kelli Weldon. The challenge words for next issue are funny, half, player, and way. I look forward to reading what you come up with!

Happy reading, and have a safe 2022,