“Flight in Word and Deed” is the theme to this issue—transcendence, explains editor Robert Stewart. His introduction is, nonetheless, a defense of the grounded nature of the literary journal as an object, something “weighty” we can hold in our hands. (“As America gets fatter, it seems to want its art to become weightless,” he writes of e-books and cyber publications). He doesn’t need to convince me that the printed page, the bound volume, the variation in texture from the uncoated paper of the pages containing stories and poems to the glossy coated stock of the extraordinary reproductions of paintings by Fabian Debora are worth their weight in pixels, providing a kind of pleasure hard to replicate in digital spheres.
Here are a few of the journal’s offerings that transported me: Chilean poet Eugenia Toledo’s poems translated by Carolyne Wright, “Qué forma dejaste en la página del olvido? / What shape did you leave on the page of oblivion?”. Poet B.H. Fairchild’s essay, “Logophilia,” in which he admits to being a victim of “falling in love with language” and whose essay is intimate, smart, and insightful. Mariko Nagai’s sculpted prose in the story “Confession.” And tremendously exciting acrylic paintings by Fabian Debora and sculpture by Juan Carlos Muñoz Hernândez, introduced by Annie Fischer in “The Art of Invention.” Ray Young Bear’s poem “From the Landscape, a Superimposition” represents both the ultimate in flight and grounded-ness: “Today there’s no equivalent.”
An interview with fiction writer Ethan Canin conducted by Bonnie Lyons is informative and pleasurable; and brief, but intelligent reviews of books from independent presses help me decide what might make for worthwhile future reading.
New Letters is consistently thoughtful, smart, and focused. Today, there’s no equivalent.