When we first conceived of this summer’s open issue, we imagined a reader longing for touch after months of isolation. We hoped to invite this reader out, into the soil’s “loving weight” (Garden Don’t Care), accompanied by a “sweaty sun” (S F Ho) and “other floral waves” (Kaylin Pearce).
We soon noted, however, even amidst pieces we had initially considered light or humorous in tone, a shadow side—an uncanny edge, a surrealist blow. Mourning, both individual and collective, emerged as a major theme. While inevitably “there is this holding on” (Andrea Actis), the contributors to this issue consider how one form of life must be grieved for another to grow. As Andrea Javor aka Mystic Sandwich writes, it “isn’t the end of the world; it’s the end of a world.”
If any doubt remained, the sustained demands for justice triggered by the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police on May 25th, 2020, have made it clear that there is no normal to return to, no “new normal” to create, unless it involves radically unmaking “the yt man’s Truth” (Mercedes Eng).
In the context of a global pandemic and worldwide demonstrations against police brutality and systemic racism, I can’t help but (re)read Gail Scott’s practice of “listen[ing] hard to the entire moment” as instruction for both writing and responding to the times we live in. While the immediate urge is to be productive and proactive, there is value in the work of conceptualizing organizational forms that emphasize process as much as product and the effort of “trying to learn, and trying to do that publicly” (Julia Lamare & Emily Dundas Oke).
So, yes, summer is here. The parks are open, the sun is out, gardens need tending, and there is work to do. This freshly designed issue opens us to life-affirming places of touch, even as it believes that “the world should be touched differently” (Maged Zaher).