ISSUE 25: BIRTH


September 2019 | 136 pages; full-color interior

Dear Reader:

When we curate our issues around a theme, like this issue’s theme of Birth, we’re careful not to go too far. We want to tackle the theme, refract it from different angles, but we don’t want you swimming in babies. (No one wants that, all those squishy little hands and feet.) But when I cast my eye down the fiction, nonfiction, and poetry we’ve chosen for you this issue, I see that we have indeed coalesced around three themes—birth, death, and sex. 

They’re connected, of course. I had a folklore professor in college who talked about the narrative possibilities of Eden. The snake tells Eve she can have knowledge, be like God, but she’s got to talk Adam into eating the apple. They sin, they get knowledge, they realize that they’re sexual beings, they grab some leaves. They get cast out of paradise, and death is invented. But birth is invented too. Without death, we’re just hanging out forever in the garden, with no new life. To put it another way, Eve tells Adam a story, and suddenly the world is awash with life and death. A scientist would tell us that cell death is necessary for life, which to me sounds like the same story. (The other thing that folklore professor told us about babies was that they were little sociopaths who would eat us if they weren’t so small, and now that I have a baby I realize she’s probably right about that. Don’t worry, reader, we can take ’em.)

O’rya Hyde-Keller opens the issue with a story that encompasses birth and death—she shows us how the natural world worships at the altar of both. Several of the pieces in this issue grapple with the aftermath of the death of a loved one, what poet Daniella Toosie-Watson calls a “thing that wades”—the grief a little flood that washes through the neighborhood. Birth also, as envisioned in Jai Chakrabarti’s adoption tale and Troy Onyango’s strange elegy, is more complicated than one would imagine, twinned with loss and uncertainty. Thomas Grattan and Jenny Irish confront the emotional and physical roughness of the birth of sexuality. National Book Award winner Sigrid Nunez talks about subjects from suicide to dogs, and Brian Gresko discusses getting the nerve to write honest memoirs with authors Mira Jacob and Kiese Laymon.

So we’d like to thank you for coming to witness the arrival of our Birth issue. Because when we tell a story, we get birth and death, and all the moments in between. We get . . . well, everything. And the cycle will continue: the births may be more full of tears than you might imagine, and the deaths will likely contain a spark of renewal.

Cheers,

Elizabeth Blachman
Editor-in-chief

 


Interviews


(In Order of Appearance)

SIGRID NUNEZ by Paul Florez-Taylor 

AUTHORS IN CONVERSATION: MIRA JACOB & KIESE LAYMON by Brian Gresko 

BRUCE BAUMAN by Neni Demetriou 

BEHIND THE BOOK DEAL: MIKE CHEN, MICHELLE MEADE & ERIC SMITH by Joseph Cáceres 

 


Fiction


Fiction Editor, Celia Blue Johnson

Associate Fiction Editor, Randy Brown Winston

EMERGING VOICES: THE PERVERT by Shane Kowalski

With an Introduction by Jennifer Finney Boylan

THE QUICKENING by O’rya Hyde-Keller

GENERAL HELPER by Thomas Grattan

THE MOST DANGEROUS DREAM OF ALL: A MULTILINGUAL EXQUISITE CORPSE by Sergio Chejfec, Maria Cabrera Callís,Basma Abdelaziz, and Petra Hůlová; translation by Heather Cleary, Mary Ann Newman, Elisabeth Jaquette, and Alex Zucker

CIRCLING BACK by Lauren Friedlander

BLACK IS THE COLOR OF ABSENCE by Troy Onyango

DAISY LANE by Jai Chakrabarti

 


Nonfiction


Nonfiction Editor, Maria Gagliano

Associate Nonfiction Editor, Marae Hart

THE HAUNTED ATHEIST by Taylor Murch

With an Introduction by Alison Kinney

WE WERE TAKEN IN THE NIGHT by Hannah Bae

SANTA CHIARA SLEEPS by Candace Stark Savage

JERRY by Didintle Ntsie

 


Poetry


Poetry Editor, Tom Haushalter

Associate Poetry Editor, Courtney Taylor

  EMERGING VOICES: GRIEF IS A THING THAT WADES by Daniella Toosie-Watson

With an Introduction by A. Van Jordan

MY MOTHER UNDOES by Mitchell Jacobs

TAKING CARE by Daniel Lassell

EARLY PLEISTOCENE HORSES by Kimberly O’Connor

AMERICA VOTES FOR THE TALKING MACHINE by Collin Callahan

TO PASS ON A BOY AS DARK by Fakoyede Oluwaseun

SERIOUSLY by Jenny Irish

AMADEUS CHO, TOTALLY AWESOME HULK by Eric Tran

VERTEBRAE by Vinitia Swonger

 


Visual Art


Creative Director, Jennifer K. Beal Davis

Associate Art Director, Matt Davis

(Click Artists’ Names to Visit Their Websites)

OLIV BARROS cover

CARLY JANINE MAZUR

ANKA ZHURAVLEVA

SEOHYUN (JOANNE) NAM

AYKUT AYDOGDU  

ASHLEY MACKENZIE 

EMILY LOVEJOY 

JULIETTE OBERNDORFER 

JENNIFER NEHRBASS

MARCELO DALDOCE 

DIEGO GRAVINESE

BARBARIAN FLOWER

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