This will be the last full issue of Eclectica for a few months, and possibly the last issue of the current "era." We'll have a shortened winter issue (to be released January 1), which will contain only non-submitted work (reviews, editorial comment). Then we're planning to come back in full force in April of next year (2005) with a new and improved format/design/look. We hope to keep many of the elements that have made this site what it is over the years, but the time has definitely come to update and evolve. Rather than make campaign promises, I'll just say that the site should be a whole lot better in a whole lot of ways.
That being said, it's difficult for me to imagine how we could ever significantly improve on the content that we've been blessed to share with our readers over the last several issues. Operation "add more editors" has been a smashing success, with all the help we've received paying dividends in the amount of time we've been able to devote to selection and editing. Our assistant editors have also made a significant contribution to bringing in fresh talent, of going out and finding outstanding writers who hadn't yet found their way to Eclectica.
In this issue, Mike Spice presents us with Allen McGill and introduces us to the haibun, a form new to Eclectica. He has also brings back Steve McAllister (formerly known as Joe Mourning, for those of you keeping track), whose cross-country exploits a few years ago brought him to a certain city on a certain September day. Kevin McGowin is up to his usual hi jinks, undeterred by illness, and has equaled—perhaps exceeded—his output from last issue. Colleen Mondor, our resident expert on more youth-oriented material, has expanded her purview to include comics, picture books, and fiction for teens and young adults. And Paul Sampson, whose battle with cancer deserves to be called heroic, both for the courage that anyone coping directly with his own mortality must inevitably employ in order to still function productively, and especially for Paul's generosity in continuing to share his humanity with the rest of us—when, as he points out, he could instead be doing in a few of the people on this planet who are perhaps deserving of being rubbed out (that's a joke, before anyone gets too uptight about it).
Just read a few strands on any of the poetry boards across the web, and it becomes immediately apparent that poetry is difficult to qualify. One person's masterpiece is another's dishrag. However, as I was formatting the poems my lovely bride Julie King chose for this issue (with the help of Assistant Poetry Editor Thom Ingram), I was struck by several reasonably objective observations. One, that there are a lot of poems. Two, that leaving aside all judgments of quality, they're all very different—from each other and from poems one might expect to find on other sites. From Arlene Ang's "The Transfer to Higher Security" to Alessio Zanelli's "An Evening Clue for the Overlearned" (both of whom, incidentally, come to us from Italy), and from tululope ogunlesi's "Learning Painting" to Sarah Sorenson's "A Lovely Consonance," with the astonishing breadth in between, we have poems that deal with love and sex, life and death, war and peace, and they do so with intelligence, an eye for detail, varied technique, and even humor. Often, the humor is wry enough to capture the human condition just in its very wryness, as is the case I think with Mark Melton's "The Stick."
As usual, I'm excited about the fiction since I deal with it more directly. Aside from ten great stories (culled mercilessly—with the help of Assistant Fiction Editors Jessica Handler, Jodi Laughlin, and Linera Lucas—from a submission pool that included many works by former contributors, editors of other online publications, and even a few celebrities, all of whose work was excellent, and all of whom we would have loved to have in the issue), we also have a Spotlight featuring flashes written by members of Alex Keegan's Boot Camp. Several of these authors are publishing for the first time, and we're proud to have them begin what we're sure will be a fruitful career with us. The Boot Camp exercise is in some ways a distant cousin of the Word Poem Challenge that we have each issue, in that authors are required to step outside of themselves a little to meet a prompt that, it's hoped, will take them in directions they might not otherwise have gone.
Speaking of going places, I urge you to click the little red arrow below and get on with reading the issue. We've worked hard to make sure that everything you encounter in the coming pages is worth the time it'll take you to check it out.
October 2, 2004