Our world, on a small and large scale, is constantly in flux.
Many things around us are more complex than we realize, even our own psyches. Several contributors illustrate people’s extensive, often nonlinear, thoughts, reflecting the identities we are constantly creating and forming.
Xuan Ly’s prose and poetry points out how much goes on behind the scenes in people’s minds. Jaylan Salah reviews Jim Jarmusch’s film Paterson, about a bus driver with a penchant for composing poetry inside his head during his long silent workdays. Luna Acorcha’s short story crafts a mental dreamscape of words and images that don’t make literal sense but flow well and fit for the story. Sequoia Hack’s poetry outlines her trip to China like an itinerary of experiences.
J.D. DeHart’s work plays fast and loose, in a serious and thoughtful way, with truth and memory. In his pieces, speakers dream and lose their dream-selves, retrace their past thoughts, get disillusioned, and inevitably hold back their true selves. There’s a gap between perception and truth, or simply between different perceptions.
Our thoughts, and our selves, are shaped by our personal and collective pasts. Some of these influences offer stability, others not so much.
Vijay Nair honors mothers and the nurturing archetype of motherhood, while Richard Slota’s novel Stray Son, reviewed here by Christopher Bernard, portrays a completely dysfunctional family whose problems began with a mother’s wrong actions.
Stray Son conveys real psychological insights through fantastical plot elements. As Bernard points out, sometimes we have to look away from something intense in order to be able to understand it without getting overwhelmed, and the ghostly storyline allows us to stomach the character’s experiences and grasp what he needs in order to heal.
Elizabeth Hughes’ monthly Book Periscope column highlights a title concerning history (Storm Over South Africa, Michael Bergen’s memoir of his family’s life during South Africa’s pre-apartheid Boer Wars). Other books Hughes reviews deal with recreating oneself or one’s world (My Name is Tom, Jon Reeves’ tale of a British vinyl record collector who sells, then seeks to regain, his vast array of music, Boston Darkens, Michael Kravitz’ story of a family of Midwestern transplants who help an East Coast city rebuild after a devastating electromagnetic attack, and Supremacy, K.M. Lovejoy’s novel where a man desperate to save his life falls under the control of a dominatrix with her own agenda).
The play Multiverse, as reviewed by Cristina Deptula, grapples with how to create a better and fairer world, and poses the question of whose ideals and values will define the shape of that better universe. Humor, love, thought and satire guide our astronauts as they explore various other potential worlds to reach their destinations.
And Kaia Hobson leaves us with a gentle, poignant picture of parenthood, trimming a child’s bangs and then having to let go of that task.
Along with our psyches, our natural and social worlds and our personal relationships are unpredictable.
Trust Tonji writes of troubled relationships, feelings and interactions that masquerade as love. Mahbub offers up various vignettes illustrating the various emotions of life – romance, sorrow, being stuck and frustrated, rejection. Kahlil Crawford’s poem reminds us that the economic ecosystem in which businesses operate can be as precarious as the natural world Lauren Ainslie describes, full of fantastical, dreamlike images of predation, death and danger. And T. Haven Morse contributes a set of haikus on evolution in nature.
While the past, and the external world, influence our psyches, we still have some ability to choose how we respond to life’s uncertainties.
Several authors plead with us not to react with fear and violence. Vijay Nair’s piece Bleeding Kashmir bemoans the warfare in the province between India and Pakistan, and Siraj Sabuke cries out similarly against intolerance and murder among different ethnic groups in Nigeria and against abuse within families. Yusuf BM underscores that violence is a choice and that we have control over our behavior, if not always our circumstances.
Christopher Bernard’s third excerpt from his cerebral and emotional novel Amor I Kaos further explores the existential choices we make between isolating despair and caring relationships with the people closest to us. Love starts in our hearts and minds, when we decide it’s worthwhile to care for another person.
We can survive change by working with it, letting our identities be shaped by being able to adapt and stay resilient.
J.J. Campbell’s pieces are about simply moving forward, not expecting too much of life and not fighting battles from the past. Elements of Jeonguei Son’s paintings, as she explains in an artist statement, represent aging, new growth, and stability through those metaphorical seasons of life. Joan Beebe evokes the harvest moon as she describes the renewal that can come as the season changes to autumn.
They suggest that we can overcome the fear of change and loss not through not by trying to force the world to stay the same, but by weathering every season and becoming wiser through the experience.
We hope that this issue will leave you wiser, stronger, and more peaceful. Enjoy!