Apr/May 2022

From the Editors

Upcycled, mixed media artwork by Keely Jane

Upcycled, mixed media artwork by Keely Jane

From Tom Dooley, Managing/Fiction

Last issue, we were down to a staff of two. This one not only marks Stuart Ross's debut as our Review and Interview Editor (as well as Twitter... Captain? Not sure what that title should be!), but it's also the beginning of what I hope is a long tenure helping us out with Nonfiction by Marko Fong. Marko was last issue's Spotlight Author, and he has also returned with another brilliant essay for the Salon. I couldn't be more thrilled to have him onboard.

NextDoor, as social media platforms go, is for me one of the less inspiring places to be, but I did happen to see a post by a local Albuquerque artist that led to my asking if Keely Jane would be interested in providing the artwork for this issue. Like many of the artists who have graced our pages, I can't help but feel the work she does is not only cool to look at, but it's emblematic of what the is publication is about: colorful, eclectic, found...

What we found, once again, were some great pieces of writing, some by authors we've featured before, some by folks new to the Eclectica family. In Fiction, Andrew Bertaina is making his sixth Eclectica appearance, while Spotlight Authors Deya Bhattacharya (former) and John Brandon (current) are making their second. John earned that honor for his prescient, almost lyrical story, "Planesong." It's speculative fiction, but it reads like literary fiction, and like most good fiction, it has a few vivid things to say about where we are and where we're going. Alice Lowe (Travel) and Kat Meads (our Nonfiction Spotlight Runner-up) are both appearing for the third time. It's great to see authors coming back, sometimes after just a few months, sometimes after many years. I hope to hear from newcomers Beate Sigriddaughter, R.W. Hartshorn, Jo Stein, Michale Aliprandini, Zachary Anderson, Margaret Holmes, and James Flanagan again in the not-too-distant future.

Congrats to Eli Cranor, whose debut novel Don't Know Tough came out last month from Soho Crime to very positive reviews. Also to Wade Bell, whose story chapbook, Visions of Bolano, is now out from Above/Ground Press. Also, I neglected to mention Sefi Atta's The Bad Immigrant, which was published in late 2021, in my previous editor note. If there are other publishing successes by Eclectica contributors, please let me know so I can spread the word.

I had a lot of fun putting this issue together, and I hope everyone reading this has the opportunity to read it all the way through and enjoy these pieces as much as I do.


From Marko Fong, Nonfiction

Before Tom asked me to help co-edit Eclectica's Nonfiction section, I'm pretty sure the only nonfiction article I'd read here was my own, which appeared in the most recent issue. I think I'm supposed to say I then went back and read every nonfiction article in Eclectica's 26 years of archives so I could get a better sense of where we've been and where we might go. I can't say that, either. As nonfiction co-editors go, I'm like what Betsy Devos was to the US Department of Education. It came down to this: I respect Eclectica and Tom Dooley, and it appeared he needed some help.

What I did gather from perusing back issues is David Ewald, my predecessor, set a high bar. Having made it through one issue with a great deal of guidance from Tom, I'm in awe of the fact that Tom and David's persistence, passion, and patience allowed them to keep this going for 26 and 9 years respectively. If I manage to make it through nine issues, I'll be doing really well.

Here's how I see it so far. Co-editing these sections is scary. For writers who aren't famous, trying to get read is like whispering into a gale force headwind. In a handful of cases, I get to give the writers some sense that their work is appreciated. The rest of the submissions, I'm just adding to that headwind. So why?

Did I learn something from reading this that I didn't know before? That was certainly the case with Kat Meads's look at Flannery O'connor and Sylvia Plath's mothers.

Is there a kind of energy or life to the piece? I'd say that 's what won me over with James Flanagan's "Digital Jesus and the Global Ponzi Schemes" and Margaret Holmes's "Plastic." We also agreed that the two rants fit together well.

Is there something different here? Alice Lowe's "Singing and Swinging" was less about going from one set of geographical coordinates to another than it was about traveling back and forth between high and low culture and loving both.

Finally, let me admit to another terrible habit. I've had my own writing published online more than once and didn't actually read the other writers who appeared in the issue with me. By doing so, I, no doubt, contributed to the raging headwind. Even when you publish, there's a little death that happens when it occurs to you no one really read or noticed except maybe the editors. If there's something in this issue you like, let the writer know, especially if it's someone with whom you've had no past connection. It's sometimes amazing how little it takes to turn even a stiff headwind into a tailwind.


From Evan Martin Richards, Poetry

First off, I'd like to extend a special welcome to incoming review editor Stuart Ross and incoming nonfiction editor Marko Fong. I'm thrilled for the opportunity to work with both of these talented writers and to see the Eclectica crew grow!

The Poetry section brings returning authors Darren Demaree, Claire Scott, and Spotlight Runner-Up David Jalajel. New to Eclectica are John Riley, Donna Dallas, and Peter Grandbois. Our second issue of 2022 delves into some themes that feel all too relevant as of late—doubt, anxiety, loneliness, longing. I admire this issue's poets for engaging with some of the darker aspects of the human experience with graceful language and strong imagery. I always find value in the rendering of the complex through writing that creates tangible moments, captivates readers, and delivers some significance, no matter how grand or small, by its own design. These are some of the foundations by which I engage with poetry, and in this regard the Spring issue does not disappoint!

This Word Poem Challenge—pieces requiring the words funny, half, player, and way—seemed particularly challenging. (Shame on whoever is in charge of picking these words!) Luckily, we had many authors up to the task, and I'm happy to bring you wonderful poems from Eclectica regular Barbara De Franceschi and newcomers Rebecca Dempsey, Katrina Kaye, and Richard Matta. I also took on this issue's challenge to contribute a piece, and was surprised as always where the prompt led. Our Word Poem Challenge is open to all, including current and former editors, and submission fees are waived, so I look forward to seeing your submission for next issue! The words for the next challenge are shape, twice, repeat, and crash.

Take care and happy reading!


From Stuart Ross, Reviews & Interviews

I'm thrilled to assume the role of Reviews and Interviews Editor for Eclectica. The magazine and its staff have published some wonderful writing and hosted some memorable events. We've been around for a long time, and I'm glad we're not only surviving, but thriving.

As for what I'm looking for in submissions, some of the dream pieces I'd like to see in the queue include essays exploring the works of writers like Comte de Lautréamont, Henry Miller, David Antin, Alberto Moravia, Greg Baxter, and Tao Lin. I'm certainly open to reviews of self-published books. I'm also a sucker for new impressions on old classics there's supposedly nothing left to say about. I'm also interested in the difference between Elena Ferrante on the page and the screen, recent TV shows like Love Life and Dave, old TV shows like Girls, Entourage, and The Odd Couple, and the adaptation of Emily St. John Mandel's Station Eleven.

In the think piece realm, I'd love to see local lit and music and theatre scene reports. I'm also looking for think pieces that wrestle with the difference between actually-reading-the-books vs scrolling-by-the-tweets-and-saving-the-articles-for-later. I love gossip, but I also love writing that assumes there's no continuing conversation. I have a soft spot for all essays answering the question What Was X? And I'm always on the lookout for author dialogues and interviews of all kinds, but only where the writers are grappling with each other's work, not each other's promotion. And I want to, always, have a good time. Pitch me or send along completed pieces!