Sometimes the TLR issue titles are esoteric because they are trying to capture the elusive theme that links all the stories and poems in a given issue. Sometimes the titles are trying to capture an elusive theme as well as offer a filter through which to read. And almost all of the time the titles are trying to nail an elusive theme, provide a filter, and add a layer of editorial or interpretive commentary.
As each individual poem and story is in conversation with you, the reader, so the grouping of stories and poems, their selection and presentation, is in conversation with you. Art, filter, commentary, dialogue. The conversation can be expanded and looped back—it’s a conversation, after all.
Street Cred isn’t esoteric; it’s actually rather blunt. Many of the selections here have an explicit, even literalistic, relationship to the title, which itself is literalistic. Unlike other themes over the past several years, Street Cred doesn’t roam or transport or trigger a series of associations unbound by gravitational pull. Street Cred is rooted, anchored, clod-footed, realistic, nostalgic, and tactile. It’s a small deviation from our usual approach—whether esoteric or associative. And our cover collaboration with Ugly Duckling Presse is also a deviation of texture and style. We wanted the Street Cred cover to be something you could touch, grab, maybe shake.
There are other collaborations here—below the surface—because the street is a place where people see each other, brush past or know each other, stop and chat or merely wave, hug sometimes or catch a kiss. The street is for interaction, the equivalent of two people touching each other. Outstanding for me, this issue features the work of Monica Sarsini, who was my first and most important writing mentor. It’s a profound privilege to have her reflections on teaching creative writing in a women’s prison included here. As always with her work, the subject is expressly mundane and physical, while her understanding of it is so profound, so keen, that it seems like a dream, the ocean in a mirror.
We hope that you enjoy this issue and that in some way it grabs you, touches you, maybe even shakes you. Those are the best kinds of conversations.