BY JENNY TINGHUI ZHANG
A confession: I despise the phrase “New Year, New You.” It always calls to mind something shedding, something being thrown away or quickly disrobed. I don’t like thinking about my life that way, as if every new year, my previous year’s self is something to be discarded and the “new me” will somehow be definitively better, brighter.
Instead, I like to think of like “New Year, Renewed You.” Our lives are the culmination of our decisions, experiences, and situations—a snowball of everything that has ever touched us. We deal with what we have. We build upon what we have. We try to become while bearing the weight of expectations, histories, legacies, inheritances—whether we want them or not.
Time and time again, we ask ourselves to renew, despite everything. In the Adroit Journal’s twenty-seventh issue, you will find characters doing just that. “Sinner Wolf” by Chris Drangle follows a loner named Riley who tries to escape the sadness in his life by trying to acquire a prized possession in a computer game. Emily Harnden’s “Only Light, Until” features a young woman dealing with the death of her mother in the most curious way. It is a story as dazzling as its subject.
You’ll find characters becoming—in Cat Leeches’ haunting story “Transubstantiation”, a girl reimagines her coming of age through hyper-violence as a response to religion. You’ll also find characters remembering in order to begin again. In Chelsea B. DesAutels’ atmospheric poem “Song of Bayou City”, the speaker is haunted by bodily and environmental tragedy. Rachel Mennies’ emotional poems “[poem about Naomi; unsent]” and “July 16, 2016” explore grief through a gorgeous intimacy. In Angie Sijun Lou’s “Drown”, the narrator reflects on her father’s life before, during, and after the Cultural Revolution with tenderness and piercing quietness—a nod to her past as she seeks to understands her future.
As we embark on this New Year, we, too, embrace becoming. Most notably, we are excited to debut our brand new website, the product of hundreds of hours of work from countless members of the journal’s team. Perhaps becoming begets reflection, but in some cases it also begets celebration. We couldn’t be more excited to move forward with this New Year and Renewed Us.
The stories in our twenty-seventh issue search and yearn and rewrite. They are working not towards newness, but renewedness, acknowledging that their characters cannot be without having been. After interruption comes restoration.
There is beauty in becoming.
Jenny Tinghui Zhang is a Chinese-American writer and educator. She is currently an MFA candidate in nonfiction at the University of Wyoming and a 2016 VONA Fellow. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Apogee, Huffington Post, Bustle, Catapult, HelloGiggles, and the Rumpus, among others. Her piece “Curiosities” was shortlisted for Cosmonauts Avenue’s 2018 Nonfiction Contest, judged by Ocean Vuong. She is currently working on a short story collection. Find her at jennytinghui.com.
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