BY DAVID RODERICK
DIRECTOR OF CONTENT
This new issue of Adroit corroborates a theory I have that creative writers are the nervous system of the body politic. We’re the fingertips, the nodes of sensation reporting from the border between the world and self. We recall forgotten histories and fantasize about how we might improve our collective prospects in the future. We document what we hear, feel, and see.
Why must we perform this function for our fellow humans (and for ourselves)? To acknowledge, rile, mourn, fight, and evolve. And if we’re lucky, to shatter our own delusions and “glimpse the end of our ignorance,” as Annie Kim writes in her poem, “(Foreigner; Perpetual),” from this issue.
More than ever, I need art that dissolves my ignorance by informing from the extremities of personal and communal predicaments. Like Shayne Terry’s story, “Ladies, Look Alive,” that confronts a numbing corporate workplace. Or Jay Deshpande’s “Visiting Gloversville,” in which the poet wanders through a town where commercial industry, and his own ancestral family, has vanished. Or Asa Drake’s meditation “Tonight, a Woman,” in which she deadpans, “The earth is an emotional wreck,” an idea that leads to her own bewildering loneliness.
Language is a conjured magic that makes our reporting possible. Consider the elegiac yearning posed in Jordan Escobar’s “You Were Buried in Stars,” in which he writes, “In that open gaze, the blonde hills furrowing, / seamless in their direction, I can hear you. // I can speak to you. Grasp you from nothing and brush / the wiry goat hairs from your collar.” The sensations shared here are fully embodied, hopefully for us as well as the poem’s speaker. Escobar’s deceased subject is gone only in the physical sense. The poet carries his readers to a destination of loss.
With this issue, we celebrate the work of our six 2022 Gregory Djanikian Scholars—poets who have yet to have a published full-length collection, and several from our long list. We had so many extraordinary poetry portfolios that, while difficult for our editors, serves as a tribute to the state of poetry today.
Finally, I believe this is the most inspiring set of interviews we’ve published in an “Enlightenments” section since I joined Adroit’s team last year. Editors Ally Findley, Reuben Gelley Newman, Sam Hollman, and Matilda Berke worked overtime to bring you rich conversations with Lisa Russ Spaar, Katya Kazbek, Cedar Sigo, Chloé Cooper Jones, and Ocean Vuong (an in-depth conversation masterfully conducted by our very own content intern, Divya Mehrish).
It’s my honor to work with such a fine staff, and to introduce these stories, poems, and interviews we’ve curated for your intellectual and spiritual nourishment. Here is Adroit installment #41. Read. Escape. Enjoy.
David Roderick was recently named an NEA Creative Writing Fellow for 2021-2022. He is the author of Blue Colonial and The Americans. In Berkeley, California, he co-directs Left Margin LIT, a creative writing center and workspace for writers.
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