BY FRANCISCO MÁRQUEZ
Despite the endless scroll of news, the carrying on of life despite enormous loss, the questioning of when the planet will cease to be—the body persists. That is what we learn in Issue 43.
But the answer is never simple, and if a life of writing can teach you anything, it is that there should always be more questions than answers. “What a relief, / the idea of continuing beyond the body. / Outgrowing it, like a childhood dress,” writes Maggie Smith in “You Ask If I Believe In the Afterlife,” starting the issue out with the title’s question and the poem’s resounding answer, collapsing time in a single line. The same impulse to draw inspiration and fortitude across time echoes in Majda Gama’s poem “Ascenseur,” as she writes about her family’s generations: “In every decade one of us walks down the same street. // I last saw my grandmother not where she was born / but where I was born and am not from.”
Perhaps however it is Cate Marvin, in her interview with Keith Kopka, who put it best when describing her latest poetry collection, Event Horizon: “This book is about coming out on the other side of experiences that would have at one time seemed unthinkable.” Marvin reminds us that even though times may seem unthinkable, after survival still comes the impulse to remember, to create, to compose, and most times, we are not alone. If not with each other in the impulse to read great literature—then with those we love, know, or remember, as we’re reminded in Adam Falkner’s poem “Origin Story, 1993,” in which he writes about Frankie, who moved to “New York to ‘get AIDS / and die’… Not before flashing / through a decade of open-mouth laughter & living…” Or Dan Kraines who reminds us in his poem “Harness” that erotic love is another way to bring us closer to ourselves, to ground us in sensuality rather than the chatter of the mind, as he writes: “Strap me to you: pull / yourself inside my hurt and force / and force.”
In a time when the mind is emperor, let the body take over. Whether it’s Jesse Motte’s unsettling essay “Vanishing Point,” Holly Goddard Jones’ craft essay about exposition and the body, the conversations with Aldo Amparán, Chen Chen and Shelley Wong, the stories by writers like Talia Lakshmi Kolluri, Noa Covo, or Michael Malan, or the bevy of poems by over twenty poets—I hope the many works in this issue bring you back, if even for a moment, to your body—whether in pleasure, terror, or wonder—and remind you there is beauty worth fighting for. It’s a privilege to be publishing these works alongside the many editors who worked hard to select and edit these, and to be sending them out into the world for a persistent, second life.
Francisco Márquez is a poet from Maracaibo, Venezuela, born in Miami, Florida. A graduate of the MFA program at NYU, his work appears in The Brooklyn Rail, The Yale Review, and Best American Poetry 2021, among other publications. He has received support from Tin House, The Poetry Project, and The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. He is Assistant Web Editor at Poets & Writers and lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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