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EDITOR'S NOTE
 

Did you know that teenage girls have been revolutionizing language since at least the 16th century?

 

Or that since the Nobel Prize for Literature was created in 1901, 17 women have won, compared to 100+ men? Only one female Latin American writer—Gabriela Mistral—received the prize.

 

Sylvia Plath’s poems were rejected countless times before she posthumously won the Pulitzer in 1982 (the quote “I love my rejection slips; they show I try,” is attributed to her). Like Plath, poets such as Sharon Olds, Ai, and more have written about blood, birth, and the body, including that of the older woman, who society often calls irrelevant when she is outside of capitalist power plays, Hollywood, or the role of the good mother—and even when she isn’t. “You could say that I was no longer somebody,” says a woman quoted by Dorthe Nors, “but I was also becoming a person with no body.”

 

Audre Lorde, who made mainstream our modern conversations on intersectionality and who wrote, along with many other works, The Cancer Journals (1980)—an influential narrative of illness—similarly said that "being a Black woman poet… meant being invisible… doubly invisible as a Black feminist woman... triply invisible as a Black lesbian and feminist."

 

When female, lesbian, intersex, nonbinary, trans, and agender people write about the body; about trauma, anger, and exploitation, that work is often critiqued under unquestioned assumptions of the inherently autobiographical; the intimately lewd and confessional—poems as classifiable exercises in catharsis not for being lived in or made criterion. Like so much of the invisible labor done by women around the world, it usually takes a lapse or absence for the work to be appreciated and engaged with comprehensively. It always takes a community to gently trace over what has been erased, and for careful readers to think critically about the dimensions of the poetic I.  

Stephanie Burt wrote that "a poem is always an alternate self, an imaginary body, a form of transport: we make it from what we are and from what we know, from our immediate lived experience, from the examples we find in others, from what the culture and its words can give."

Leslie Jamison opines, in the incredible essay "Grand Unified Theory of Female Pain," that "female pain is prior to its representation, even if its manifestations are shaped and bent by cultural models.... I think dismissing female pain as overly familiar or somehow out-​of-​date—​twice-​told, thrice-​told, 1001-​nights-​told—​masks deeper accusations: that suffering women are playing victim, going weak, or choosing self-​indulgence over bravery. I think dismissing wounds offers a convenient excuse: no need to struggle with the listening or telling anymore."

There are endless disquisitions on the complex impositions of culture on personhood. But I'd like to let the amazing poems and nonfiction pieces of this issue speak—of legacy and generational impact, of gender and agender and the strangeness of being a woman, of vulnerability in romantic and familial relationships, of women's bodies in art, and of the changes love catalyzes. In raw exposure, there is celebration and space for breath.

And—I am always looking for great first lines. “I wonder about the hidden life of Olympia's / maid and all she’s seen,” begins Ellen June Wright’s Servant Class. “To exist in this body / is to live in clichés” writes Hannah Irene Rubenstein in her poem My Own Voyeur. “I don’t mind being a cliché,” admits the cheeky, sharp speaker of Jesslyn Whittell’s $20 Lingerie; “no one’s love is unique. My first fantasy / was that a great wave of cartoon-blue water swept my body / into Jesus’, until our mouths touched, and I thought this was a sin and / I confused love and harm for years, willed myself to the abstraction.”

The crime known as Trespass,” acts as a cold preface to Missing Signs and Signals. “I try to look innocent and young. I try to play as small as possible,” writes Samantha Donndelinger in one of the best descriptions of the 'fawn response' I’ve ever read. In fact, the immediacy of “animal fear” or having an “animal face” recur many times throughout this issue—nods to the unbreakable bonds of the feminine with the wild and untamed. As Frances Klein, in an erasure poem of Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible, describes: “out of the thunderous rain the / clear / voice: / rage.”

                                                                                                                                            Thank you for reading.

                                                                                                                                                     Yours,

                                                   

                                                                                                                                                              Marina

ISSUE 4
 

PAUL HOSTOVSKY


Flirting with the Deaf

ELLEN JUNE WRIGHT


Servant Class


Dream Logic with Laure

RILEY GABLE

Blood Moon

 

 

 

JESSLYN WHITTELL

$20 Lingerie 

Owing 

MARIA PROVENZANO

Train Poem I

Train Poem II

SAMANTHA DONNDELINGER

Missing Signs and Signals ☾

 

 

 

HANNAH IRENE RUBENSTEIN
 

My Own Voyeur

FRANCES KLEIN

Blighted Ovum

Brand Strategy

 

 

 

SHAUNA SHIFF


The Confidant


Peonies

 

 

 

KATHY NELSON 

 

How I Moved to Nevada

ROCHELLE JEWEL SHAPIRO 

On the Cross Bronx Expressway


My Father Kissed

HANNAH GRACE NEMETZ TODD

Epitaph

 

 

 

 

DAVID HUMMON

Imperial Valley, California

Sisters 

 

 

 

 

LAWRENCE DI STEFANO

Southbound I-5

Photograph of the Sky at Night

The Heart

 

 

 

 

SCOTT DAVIDSON


Suspension

 

 

 

 

 

ABOUT THE ART
 

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