Photo Art by Michael Dooley
From Tom Dooley, Managing/Fiction
Some acknowledgements: big thanks and props to Michael Dooley (no relation) for generously providing images like the one above. Also, much appreciation to Stuart, Marko, and Evan for their editorial contributions. And I'm grateful to the authors who continue to stick with us over the years—in this issue, we have Thomas J. Hubschman, a contributor since 2003 now publishing his 76th and 77th pieces in Eclectica; Dennis Kaplan, who first showed up in our pages in 2000, back for his sixth appearance; and Kris Broughton, a relative newcomer (compared to the previous two guys) who joined our extended "family" in 2007 and is now notching his third story with us.
Shout out to our Spotlight Authors. The winner is Marshall Moore for his thoughtful essay, "A Shortage of Portals," which Marko will talk about more below. Our first Runner-Up is Erica Goss, herself now a four-time contributor, for her poem "Butterfly Pose." In Fiction, M.C. Schmidt also earned Runner-Up honors for his story "The Ohio Stigmata of 2009." I nominated "Stigmata" because I thought it does an exceptional job of presenting characters whose actions and circumstances, while tinged with drama, are nonetheless wholly believable. These honorees received a small cash prize and joined a long line of luminaries stretching back 27 years, and I'm super happy to congratulate them.
Here are a few bits of news about former contributors:
• Chika Unigwe's The Middle Daughter was longlisted for the New American Voices Award.
• Elizabeth P. Glixman's poetry chapbook I Am the Flame is on the Finishing Line Press Website, and she has a story appearing in the Coolest American Stories 2023 anthology.
• Just found out One Person Away From You, a story collection by Andrew Bertaina, was published by University of Arkansas' Moon City Press in 2021.
• David Rich's story "A Student Deferment," first published in Eclectica in 2018, will be included in the Rule Britannia from Crimeucopia/Murderous Ink Press.
• Dennis Must's MACLEISH SQ. is a finalist for the International Book Award 2023, Literary Fiction, and the Hawthorne Prize.
• Last issue's Spotlight Author J.V. Foerster has a book of poems coming out this fall called Holy Mess of a Girl.
• A.S. King edited The Collectors: an Anthology, which will be coming out in September 19 from Dutton Books.
• Avital Gad-Cykman will have a story in Best Small Fictions 2023.
• Grzegorz Wroblewski has a poetry collection out called Heaven and Joints.
• Midwest Book Review called Nick Ripatrazone's The Habit of Poetry, The Literary Lives of Nuns in Mid-century America. an "impressive work of original and seminal research."
If you're one of the rare people who reads, and who reads online literature, and who reads Eclectica Magazine, thank you, and I hope you have a great rest of your summer. It's likely going to be a hot one, wherever you are. Keep cool and enjoy this issue.
From Marko Fong, Nonfiction
In this issue, David Comfort ("Write-Aide: The Shock Proof Shit Detector) examines Strunk and White's Elements of Style as a gateway to exploring the question "Are there rules for producing good writing?" You'll have to read his article (one that might set a record for quotes in a short essay) to get his thoughtful answer, but as the non-fiction co-editor here I've dealt with a similar question,"What determines whether something winds up in Eclectica?"
This issue proved to be particularly interesting, because we wound up with more "possibles" than usual. Ultimately, we rejected some submissions we would have taken on other occasions. I don't think there was any magic line that separated the submissions that made it in from the ones that didn't. In fact, this issue's selections really live up to the publication's name "Eclectica." They range from Ellen Notbohm's relatively traditional memoir, "Shalimar" which is wistful, tender, and personal, to Jack Tisdale's "Dorothy's Dancing Party," which disguises a story and an entire alternate history as a cast list. Hallel Yadin examines Amy Winehouse's version of "Valerie" and its place in queer culture. David Guaspari successfully takes on the challenge of writing yet another parody of Nigerian Internet scams with singular thoroughness while inviting Boris Johnson to the party (in case anyone out there is wondering what he's up to now). Michael Aaron Gomez also goes satirical with a fanciful yet grimly realistic take on Pilipino politics through the lens of a fanciful game summary from the Pilipino basketball association.
Finally, Marshall Moore takes us around the world through a network of "portals" or secret passageways that lead from the Chronicles of Narnia, to a gay adolescence in Eastern North Carolina, to looming political oppression in Hong Kong, then back to England some 70 years after Narnia.
I guess that's the point of Eclectica: at its best, it's a home for unlimited possibilities within the confines of a single quarterly issue.
From Evan Martin Richards, Poetry
In the poetry section of this issue, Spotlight Runner-Up Erica Goss's "Butterfly Pose" plays the metaphor of body and insect into a comparison between flame and vibrant wing. David Jalajel provides us with "Four Qasidas of Desperation," bridging an ancient poetic form and a host of contemporary characters (be sure to view in landscape if on mobile!). Shyla Ann Shehan explores the reciprocity of being and sea in "My mood is as punctual and unstable as the tide." Peter Grandbois poses two intricately linked and enduring questions through verse in "A trajectory of letting go," and in "Scopophilia," Stephanie Karas renders the titular love of looking in a series of visual vignettes.
This issue's Word Challenge, consisting of poems which must include the "words, park, sugar, storm," and "river," opens with a declaration of longing for the river in Rebecca Dempsey's "Tributary." Alison McFarlane, too, channels waterways in "Mackenzie River," her second-person ode. Maggie Fulmer uses the second-person to conjure an intimate dialogue from the assigned words in "After dinner, can you tell me about." Both Jennifer Dunn and Santana Shorty look to the power of nature—both what it brings and what it takes—in their respective pieces, "Hurricane Fiona, N.S." and "Storm Tamer." Susanna Skelton's appetite finds common ground with a torrential rainstorm in "And I am hungry." Finally, Rosalie Hendon's "When you manage a city's natural resources" investigates the nature of invasion and the charge of preservation. The challenge for next issue is open now and requires the words "saw, deserve, grass," and "heavy"—I look forward to reading the submissions!