BY HEIDI SEABORN
I hate to argue with T.S. Eliot, but April does not seem like the ‘cruelest month’ of 2021. Even with the brush of snow that fell in some parts, Spring with all its evocations has arrived after the longest of years. As I write this, I hear birdsong and my neighbor’s azalea has burst into fiery blossom. Look around and we see the beginning signs of some sort of return to the life we once knew.
Yet, throughout these challenging times, poets and writers have continued to bless readers with words for what often has felt incomprehensible. Michael Robbins’ “In the Time of the Plague” cuts to the heart: “Home, I wash my red/hands raw again and check/for seraphim. I’ve had it/up to here with God.” While Maya C. Popa writes in her poem “The Present Speaks of Past Pains”: “…if we might//forgive each other, this would be the hour for it.” Even in the midst of the nightmare, Matthew Olzmann reminds us of joy found, precarious, but constant in his poem “Best Nightmare Machine.”
Yet, these are not pandemic poems, they are poems that speak to us as humans—angry, grieving, lonely, struggling humans. I encourage you to read Victoria C. Flanagan’s surprising take on grief in her poem “NO8DO”, or the agony of “Lament” and “Don’t Go” by Maggie Dietz. The stories of Matthew Baker, Gina Nutt and Tyler Barton, each in very distinct ways, summon the decisive power and inherent vulnerability of the moment. Whether a split-second moment or a long, anxious moment like that which we have endured now for over a year. And don’t we wonder and ask each other, ‘What will it be like when it’s over’? Janika Oza’s short story “Load Sharing” captures the curiosity and experience of adjusting back to an old way of living: “We reach out, fleeting, cautious; we return, altered, to where we began.” And hopefully to find an exuberance, even restrained, that is evident in the cover art from Zhou Zhang.
With Issue #37, we celebrate the extraordinary work of our Gregory Djanikian Scholars—six poets with immense talent who have yet to publish a full-length collection (hello, poetry presses!): Jari Bradley, Donte Collins, Jane Huffman, L. A. Johnson, Nastasha Rao and Brandon Thurman. We’ve also included poems from our finalists: Ghinwa Jawhari, Hannah Perrin King, JD Debris, Jacob Lindberg, Jai Hamid Bashir, Rob Shapiro, and from select semi-finalists. As editors, this year was particularly challenging to select our honorees from the overwhelming submission of extraordinary work. I urge you to read it all, cover-to-cover really, and to learn more about our Djanikian Scholars program by visiting our Djankian Scholars page here.
With this issue, we welcome our new Director of Content, David Roderick, who has already brought deft and inspiration to our blog. In “Enlightenments” you will find four incisive and surprising conversations between writers. As well as a first for us, a lyric essay (by the very talented Zack Finch).
April is not only National Poetry Month, but also Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. The Adroit Journal has partnered with the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), which created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline and carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice. Through our partnership, we are raising funds for RAINN at our Issue #37 Reading tonight, undertaking training and outreach to the broader literary community. Please join us in supporting this important organization.
Thank you for reading The Adroit Journal and for welcoming literature and art into your life.
Heidi Seaborn is the author of [PANK] 2020 Poetry Award winner An Insomniac’s Slumber Party with Marilyn Monroe (2021), Give a Girl Chaos (C&R Press/Mastodon Books, 2019) and the 2020 Comstock Prize Chapbook, Bite Marks, as well as chapbooks Finding My Way Home and Once a Diva. Since Heidi started writing in 2016, she’s won or been shortlisted for over two dozen awards. Her work has recently appeared in American Poetry Journal, Beloit Poetry Journal, Copper Nickel, The Cortland Review, The Greensboro Review, The Missouri Review, The Slowdown with Tracy K. Smith, Tinderbox Poetry Journal and elsewhere. She is Executive Editor of The Adroit Journal, on the board of Tupelo Press and holds an MFA in Poetry from NYU. For more, visit Heidi online at www.heidiseabornpoet.com.
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