To make us feel small in the right way is a function of art; men can only make us feel small in the wrong way.
I don’t know whether it’s character or upbringing, but I find anger to be the most extreme and terrifying of states. The undead shuffling through my living room lusting for blood is a nuisance compared to the erratic and scarring cruelties of anger. I avoid it; I compromise outrageously to quash it; I lock myself in the bathroom when I feel its spiky tentacles clamp onto my own emotional temperature. Professionals would label my relationship to anger unhealthy.
Imagine my surprise when I realized that our innocently structural theme of Long had turned into a variegated landscape of rage.
Why? As deeply fascinating as anger is, as heartily as it bears multiple interpretations, I wonder whether anger makes everyone else as wary as it makes me. And if so, is space, a wide berth, miles of contemplation, somehow the antidote? Short stories and haikus can’t contain anger, but epic verses can walk with it for many many hundreds of lines.
Or maybe it’s just a coincidence. Perhaps my excitement over being able to run long poems and short novels (which we hardly ever get to do in literary magazine land) led me to approach people with unseemly enthusiasm—leading them then in turn to reciprocate with seething tapered aggression. Or maybe, like the American Bison (who are making frequent appearances in new work we’re reading this year), anger is an organic trend, a response to the movement of the stars or the bloated weather.
Regardless, we set out to make an issue about the long forms of poetry and stories and inadvertently got roiling emotions as a leitmotif. What makes me happiest about it is that this issue’s theme came about because one of our contributors flagrantly ignored our submission guidelines and sent us a novella, which so roguishly intrigued us that we changed the guidelines so as to not interfere with the integrity of her winding story. We built an issue around her; a gesture of pure admiration. We built her a furious house of extraordinary writing. We hope that you enjoy reading it as much as we have.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Rock Creek (II)
The Neck Verse
Kirstin Allio’s (“Quetzal”) novel, Garner, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award for First Fiction. She has published numerous short stories and won a PEN/O. Henry Prize in 2010. She is currently on Route 2 from Seattle to Providence with her husband and sons.
Jesse Ball (“The Neck Verse”) is the author of several novels, books of poetry, prose, and draughtsmanship, most recently The Curfew and The Village on Horseback. He teaches classes on artistic practice at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Paula Bomer (“Inside Madeleine”) is the author of the novel Nine Months and the collection Baby and Other Stories. Her fiction has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Open City, Fiction, The New York Tyrant, Green Mountain Review, and Nerve.
H.L. Hix’s (“Aggression Cues”) most recent poetry collection is a “selected poems” called First Fire, Then Birds, published in 2010 by Etruscan Press.
Joshua Weiner’s (“Rock Creek Park (II)”) new book of poems, The Figure of a Man Being Swallowed by a Fish, will be published in spring 2013 by the University of Chicago Press. He teaches at the University of Maryland and lives in Washington, DC.