ORDER THE ISSUE
I TITLED THIS ISSUE Onword so it could work either as a farewell—onward and upward, as we say when bidding goodbye—or a celebratory continuing forward—on with the words. Deep gratitude goes to all who helped make the latter the true meaning of the title.
Like many endeavors in the arts, literary journals are quixotic undertakings, and no matter how vigorous are the idealism, resilience, and stubbornness that sustain them, they are fragile enterprises. Fragile and yet crucial constituents in the literary ecosphere. I have noted before that when I started Conjunctions in my late twenties, my hope was that it might last for a few years, offer a serious platform for the innovative voices that I felt were changing how we wrote and read. That with the help of many amazing colleagues and supporters it has stayed alive over the years—with vibrancy, I believe—is astonishing to me.
If the title was ambidextrous, the theme was nonexistent. Our organizing principle was simply great writing by great writers. Yet commonalities, shared themes, did arise over the course of putting the issue together. Survival threads its way through these works—overcoming existential smog in Can Xue’s story; Yxta Maya Murray’s depiction of a woman’s struggle to overcome drought that’s killing her orchard; Russell Banks’s haunting novella about people, good and evil, trying to survive each other on the Canadian border. Migration figures into works by Fred D’Aguiar, Cole Swensen, Martine Bellen. The twin themes of loss and renewal are central to the narratives of Melissa Pritchard, Minna Zallman Proctor, Shane McCrae, and others. Evolution of mind and place, reimagining and rebuilding are explored by Leah Newsom, Karla Kelsey and Nancy Kuhl, as well as in Barrie Jean Borich’s essay about our efforts to define our very identities. And, as with so many writers in these pages, Bonnie Nadzam eloquently explores stillness, how to live with disappointment, how to move onward through difficult spiritual terrains.
This issue is dedicated with fondest memories and love to Peter Straub. He is deeply missed and will live on in his unique work.
New York City
New York City