ESSAYS: Colin Dickey, Anna Journey, Anna Merlan, Sarah Moss, Emily Ogden, Adam Morris
FICTION: Kathryn Davis, Masande Ntshanga, Keziah Weir, Paul LaFarge
POETRY: William Brewer, Elisabeth Houston, Brenda Hillman, Matt Morton, Javier Zamora, Vanessa Angélica Villarreal
ALSO FEATURING: Kristen Arnett, Dodie Bellamy, Fernando A. Flores, Maya Gurantz, Zoe Tuck, Aaron Winslow
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ESSAYS: Hanif Abdurraqib, Caio Fernando Abreu, Katya Apekina, Juliana Chow, Michael Donkor, Nathan Goldman, Kim Hayden, Rachel Scarborough King, Bruna Dantas Lobato, Gillian Osborne, Julie Schumacher, Julietta Singh
FICTION: Halle Butler, Sara Davis, Shiv Kotecha
POETRY: Molly McCully Brown, Cortney Charleston, Airea D Matthews, Maureen McLane, Susannah Nevison, Matthew Olzmann, Charif Shanahan, Analicia Sotelo, Cecelia Woloch, Stella WongMore info →
I have no nostalgia for my childhood. I don’t remember it well — maybe less than I should — and I don’t miss it or long for it. I am in fact, grateful it’s over, as I don’t recall it being particularly fun or easy. As far as I can tell, childhood is a pretty scary time, with little control over your life, little understanding of what’s happening and why, and much to be afraid of (both real and unreal terrors).
Let’s start with a love story. A few years ago, Rose, my partner’s 97 year old grandmother, met a man named Hardy in her retirement home. This may be apocryphal, but I heard that Hardy saw Rose walking in the courtyard and thought, “That is a nice lady.” This is the part I’ve always loved because Rose walks very slowly and with difficulty, usually with a walker. He was completely right — she is a very nice lady — and they have been inseparable ever since. Rose and Hardy exercise together in the mornings; they watch movies in the evenings. Hardy has proposed to Rose though she doesn’t want to get married because of the hassle. Hardy is in his early 90’s, which makes him a younger man. The last time I saw Rose, she said to me incredulously, “I never thought I would meet the love of my life in my 90’s!” (Never mind that Rose had three children with her late husband — he was obviously not the one.) Hardy and Rose have been the King and Queen of their local Mardi Gras celebration for three years in a row.
I sometimes imagine genius as a very fast moving body of water. People naturally slip in and out but it’s impossible to jump in. Or it’s like living in a house, where I’m generally free to wander at will, but the upper floors are boarded up. I know there are people up there, I can hear them, but who knows how they got upstairs, it looks pretty locked to me. This isn’t something to take personally — you either have access or you don’t. And besides, I can’t think of a more appropriate application for that Groucho Marx quote: genius is exactly the kind of club I would resign from if it ever accepted a person like me as a member.
We went back and forth about whether this should be the “Comedy” or the “Humor” issue and eventually, as you can see, landed on the former. Comedy, after all, has connotations that humor doesn’t have. It implies a certain professionalism — it can of course, be a job and a big job at that; it also has an implicit goal. Comedy is meant to be funny or entertaining. Comedy also evokes its opposite — tragedy — and, in that evocation, lets its audience hope for a happy ending. It goes beyond something as amorphous as a sense. A sense of humor is certainly a good thing to have, more people should consider acquiring one, but right now the concrete seems more interesting. If humor is tragedy plus time, then comedy is humor plus politics, plus current events, plus social and economic circumstances. Comedy is humor plus the business of the world.
The worlds of art and writing have always been close — friendly at some moments, suspicious and derisive at others. They have met and interacted for many years, mostly through the work of the stricken souls who travel in between, spending time in both places, trying to describe and explain one to the other. This is a difficult task, as bridging worlds usually is. They’ve been traveling for many years, since Samuel Richardson and Tristram Shandy, Baudelaire and Picasso, and yet, despite the years, the task remains just as difficult as it always was.
Perhaps we are in a revolution and perhaps we are not. It is sometimes hard to tell. Of course, that can’t always be the case, especially in revolutions that are full of violence or bloodshed, but there must be revolutions that we don’t see or don’t notice or don’t totally acknowledge. Or on the flip side, there are events that we are too quick to call by that name, when actually they aren’t really anything at all, except steps in a long and drawn out series of accidents.