Ecotone: eco from Greek oikos (a house or dwelling) + tone from tonos (tension). All Ecotone’s writing is true to this theme, in one way or another. This issue opens with a creative nonfiction piece by the editor, David Gessner, in which he recounts his own experience in an ecotone, a transitional place between two communities, as well as a place of danger. Jessica Bane Robert’s memoir, “Dark on the Inside,” about living in the Maine woods with alcoholic parents, is full of both natural beauty and sadness. And Michael Pollan’s lighter “Dream Pond” demonstrates how hubris leads to humiliation, then eventually knowledge and appreciation. This essay follows an engaging interview with Pollan, the author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and, most recently, In Defense of Food.
Special to this issue is the section “Black Poets in the Natural World.” Of these poems, I especially enjoyed Remica Bingham’s “The Ritual of Season” and Ross Gay’s “Poem to My Child, If You Ever Shall Be.” The former’s images are creative and concrete: “daily the heavens held back their glory / and we swept angels / into hard earth – / donning the silt of adobe wings / mocking the sun / damning her,” and the latter includes poignant questions from a parent to a child: “what would you think / of this world which turns itself steadily / into an oblivion that hurts, and hurts bad?” Ecotone has plenty of poems outside this section as well, one of the many noteworthy being Dan Stark’s “A Small Study of Faith Before Arising from My Bath to Teach World Literature.”
Although I think Ecotone’s strongest pieces are its creative nonfiction essays and its poems, the journal also includes fiction and visual art. Anyone who feels the tension – either figuratively or literally – of living in between places or spaces will find at least one piece from Ecotone from which you can receive sympathy and refreshment.