Wednesday, September 16, 2020

You Must Take This Journey. There is no Other Way to Go

 From the Editor, Bacopa Literary Review 2020

Humor can provide a break or respite; it can also make difficult subjects more palatable, soften hard edges, tell a truth, release some demons, and upend expectations. Notes from the Creative Nonfiction Foundation Webinar with Shannon Reed, "When Is It Okay to Laugh?"

When we decided in January to invite humor this year, we had no idea a pandemic was about to descend on us--ostensibly not at all funny, yet an opportunity to soften some very hard truths and release a variety of demons.

Our readers can look forward to "normal" humor, such as Jon Shorr's "Jesus' Bar Mitzvah Speech" and Chris Gilmore's "Mansplaining." But the demands of quarantining, and responses to daily death rate tolls, have also brought a range of humorous responses.

Stuart Stromin's "An Open Letter to the Secretary General" notes the difficulty for canines to maintain the same enthusiasm, energy, and vigilance given humans' recent, more dog-like behavior, especially their unusual fondness for walks.

At the other end of coronavirus humor, we have "Notes from the Editors on 'Orange is the Darkest Color'" by Cadence Mandybura, reminding us how hard it is to believe the reality of our current grim experience.

Even where there was no mention of this spring's specific difficulties, a large percent of our submissions emphasized grief, family, love of pets, and ominous foreboding. So, the accepted works this year accurately reflect what's on the minds of writers and poets everywhere.

Sarina Bosco's "An interval of time just before the onset" seems to refer to an oncoming storm, but its threatening tone (and you wait--one, two) implies the "storm" could take any form.

Kurt Caswell recalls When the bomb cyclone hit west Texas, I was reading Emily Dickinson aloud to Kona, the German shepherd who shares my home. 

To die--without the Dying
And life--without the Life
This is the hardest Miracle

In "Body Everywhere," Hailee Nielsen writes, The first time I see a dead whale on the beach . . . I do not know . . . decay turns whale bodies into explosives.

Krista, In Evan Guilford-Blake's "Dust," probes her husband's ashes with her left index finger and keeps specks of it on her finger all day. Then walking in the rain, holding her son's small hand with her right hand, reaches out with her left and lets the water spill across it.

Among the works that are pandemic-related, most have at least some element of optimism. David B. Maas describes, while "Getting Ready for Bed," dismantling myself thought by thought, / until only my name remains / floating above me, trying to recall / how it knows me, this man, / this barely asleep ambassador of hope.

From Virginia Boudreau's elegy, "Grass": You've been gone almost eight years now . . . But still, this perfect brown bunny, on grass that's about to green is a gift. It's a resurrection of hope in this tired world riddled with a germ that also steals breath and provides no answers.

Facing a new normal under government-ordered quarantine, writes Virginia Watts in "The Mouth on the Mountain," we are no longer moving on top of the earth's surfaces as we used to. Watts recalls traveling the Pennsylvania Turnpike in the back seat of my parents' car, likening our current experience to being deep inside a tunnel: Your clouds and your sky, your moon and your sun, hidden from view. Even though this is not a place you are used to, you must take this journey. There is no other way to go.

Mary Bast, Senior Editor


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