ISSUE 26: PERSISTENCE


October 2020 | 191 pages; full-color interior; digital

Dear Reader:

We planned this issue and its theme of Persistence in 2019—before the pandemic, before the country would witness yet more violence to Black bodies, before so many would take to the streets to cry out for justice and demand we change our broken systems. I began to fear that the issue would be too inert to speak to Persistence given the upheavals and bleak hopes of 2020, and I connected with several of our writers and editors with my concern. Joseph Cáceres, who interviewed writer Jaquira Díaz for this issue, advised me to look at our selections through the lens of the politics of seeing—“seeing the effects of a silence,” he writes, that has “haunted” American society. As I read through the magazine, I came across author Drew Pham, introducing a story by her student Har Mann in our Emerging Voices series, who reminded me that literature can help us to see each other: “trans folks, people of color, working-class families, migrants, queer folks, and everyone else whose lives are ignored.”

So I thought about seeing and not seeing. I thought about Persistence. I thought about the ways literature can help to heal this broken world and the times when words on a page seem flimsy in the face of injustice.

And as I studied this issue of SLICE and thought about the haunting that Joseph had spoken of, I started to notice some ghosts, those persistent shades that follow us even when we’re not looking hard enough to see their outlines. In “The Diviner” by Donna Hemans, a young man in Jamaica digs in the ground until he reaches water in an act of regeneration that exorcises the ghost of his father. Maisy Card and Victor LaValle have a conversation with Brian Gresko about “old-world horror made new.” Poet Terrance Hayes speaks to Courtney Faye Taylor about the late poet Wanda Coleman, who looms over the interview like a specter, brilliant and wildly honest. In the witty family narrative “Rioja” by Shannon Sanders, the light ghosts of things unsaid flit through the corners of a Thanksgiving meal. SJ Sindu faces the twin family ghosts of memory and trauma, and Jen Corrigan, confronting cancer, is haunted by things that have disappeared, from ships to eyeshadow brushes.

Maybe literature can’t heal this broken world. Maybe the only thing that can is showing up to fight for our fellow people. But when I’m feeling hopeful, I believe that what literature can do—if we’re persistent, if we try to see, if we watch for the ghosts that linger in the shadows—is help us to see each other. And on my hopeful days, that feels like a place to start.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Blachman

Editor-in-chief

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

(In Order of Appearance)


Interviews


MAISY CARD & VICTOR LAVALLE by Brian Gresko

TERRANCE HAYES ON WANDA COLEMAN by Courtney Faye Taylor

TOCHI ONYEBUCHI by Randy Winston

BEHIND THE BOOK DEAL: JAQUIRA DÍAZ, MICHELLE BROWER & KATHY PORIES by Joseph Cáceres

 


Emerging Voices


POETRY: ODE TO THE MAN WHO KILLED ME by Katy Day, with an Introduction by Patricia Smith

FICTION: GIRLHOOD by Kim Bussing, with an Introduction by Ivelisse Rodriguez

NONFICTION: THE MINOTAUR by Har Mann, with an Introduction by Drew Pham

 


Fiction


Fiction Editor, Celia Blue Johnson

Associate Fiction Editor, Randy Brown Winston

THE DIVINER by Donna Hemans

A MEAN WINTER by Latifa Ayad

THE ONLY POSSIBLE CHOICE: A MULTILINGUAL EXQUISITE CORPSE by Andrés Barba, Kirmen Uribe, Jeremy Tiang, Kira Josefsson, Chiara Marchelli, Ursula Andkjær Olsen, and Sharmila Seyyid; translation by Lisa Dillman, Elizabeth Macklin, YZ Chin, Kristina Andersson Bicher, Conner Drennen, Katrine Øgaard Jensen, and Gita Subramanian

INCONCEIVABLE by Whitney Collins

RIOJA by Shannon Sanders

BY RETURN by Anna Cabe

THREE FLASH FICTION PIECES by Sarah Moses

INDEPENDENCE DAY by Shubha Sunder

LAUNDRY by Frances Park

GET OUT THE VOTE by Nick Fuller Googins

 


Nonfiction


Nonfiction Editor, Maria Gagliano

Associate Nonfiction Editor, Marae Hart

YOUR DOG WALKER IS A FELON: MY JOURNEY THROUGH PROBATION’S PRECARITY by Nicole Shawan Junior

HER SCARS: ON MY MOTHER AND GOD by Anita Anburajan

BOMBS FALL LIKE POLLEN by SJ Sindu

LONG HAIR, DON’T CARE by Musfira Shaffi

DISTRACTIONS ARE BEST SERVED AT ROOM TEMPERATURE by Brandon Christopher

BINARY STAR by Katrina Smith

WHERE THINGS GO WHEN THEY DISAPPEAR by Jen Corrigan

 


Poetry


Poetry Editor, Tom Haushalter

Associate Poetry Editor, Courtney Faye Taylor

SURGERY METAL by Larry Narron

LETTER FROM A ROMAN SOLDIER IN GAUL by Forester McClatchey

MY ELUSIVE SISTER by Adura Ojo

P-T by Micah Nemerever

(OR, W W ) by Cindy Tran

LIMITS by M. Christine Benner Dixon

UPWARD MOBILITY by Karen Skolfield

BORDER by Cory Hutchinson-Reuss

 


Visual Art


Creative Director, Jennifer K. Beal Davis

Associate Art Director, Matt Davis

STINA ALEAH cover

MELISSA KOBY

PATRICK QUARM

SO PILU

BEN CRAWFORD

NADIA WAHEED

JAMES ROPER

JOANNE GREENBAUM

ANOLI PERERA

ALEX GROSS

PETER CHAN

HIMANSHU VATS

TOM GLENDENNING

PAUL CROOK

MINAS HALAJ

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