BY PETER LABERGE & GARRETT BIGGS
Founder & Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor
One could only imagine our pleasure (read: terror) at the prospect of writing an editor’s note for Adroit 32, when the task at hand is to welcome a selection of literature into a world in the midst of a global pandemic. It’s not realistic to expect literature to serve as a medicine during this much uncertainty, as romantic as that might be. It’s not fair to expect writing to enter the world as the rest of us retreat.
We are not the first to write about how these are uncertain times, but we can say one thing with certainty: Issue 32 cannot and will not retreat. While the editorial team was not able to predict that we would be welcoming this brave folio into a world of social distancing and sheltering in place, there is little doubt it meets the moment.
Maybe it’s Kate Bernheimer’s continued exploration of femme queer aesthetics in fairy tales, or Elaine Hsieh Chou’s vibrant excoriation of xenophobia. Maybe it’s Garous Abdolmalekian’s “Long Poem of Loneliness”, Peter Streckfus‘s meditation on parenthood in the face of such palpable tragedy. Or it’s James Richardson‘s quieting of time, John Freeman‘s love poem for the ages, or the arrival of our 2020 Gregory Djanikian Scholars, the authors in Issue 32 are relentless in their efforts to provide texture and color and understanding to our lived experiences. Whatever it is, we’re glad it’s here, and we hope the work in this issue demands the attention and consideration it has so respectfully demanded of us.
In particular, we are excited to be welcoming entries for our 2020 Adroit Prizes for Poetry & Prose, reserved to recognize the best work from high school and undergrad writers that we receive year-round, as well as applications for our online summer mentorship program for high school students from around the world. We’re particularly excited to welcome into the world new work by our six 2020 Gregory Djanikian Scholars in Poetry: Bryan Byrdlong, Gabriella R. Tallmadge, Steven Duong, Ae Hee Lee, Matthew Gellman, and Sara Elkamel. These are terrifying, trying times, and yet we find ourselves moving against the current as best we can.
It’s been a true, humbling pleasure to assemble this issue. We’ve been holding these pieces close to us for some time now, and we can’t wait for you to do the same. So until we meet next time: Please stay inside, wash your hands, order a package from your local indie bookstore, and keep your loved ones close.
It feels most apt to end with this beautiful passage from Joanna Klink’s “You are not summer”:
just when the days were of no use
you paused and stopped, you were no question,
you had no expectation, you closed
your eyes in a breeze but were no breeze,
you would not walk through me if you could,
no picnic or banquet or thunder,
no slow bird above a river
where we won’t sit in summer, just watching
the emptiness recede, the water arrive.