This summer Little Patuxent Review will release its first unthemed issue, but as incoming Editor, Steven Leyva, writes in his first ever Editor’s Note for LPR, “I trusted that thematic elements would emerge.” In my own experience as editor of the University of Maryland literary journal, in picking well-written poetry and prose that is thematically rich, it’s impossible to avoid the confluence of concerns of human beings. Blessed by a community that consistently delivers us just such writing, Laura and Steven both speak of this issue as being shaped and guided by change and transition – not just in terms of the transition from one Editor to another, but manifest in the lives of the characters our community has presented us with. To remix both Laura and Steven’s Notes [i], I invite you as readers to take your first steps with these characters and stories through doors opening onto vistas we weren’t expecting.
Even when seeking transformation, by its nature change eludes prediction. Characters seeking to be transformed may still not expect the processes leading to that transformation [ii] or what the endpoint of that transformation may be. [iii] Similarly Michael Salcman explores how artist Lee Boot has come to an integrative approach combining painting with multi-media by first shifting among the dazzling array of digital possibilities. [iv]
But many times, the transformations are ones our characters did not choose at all. They are pushed, sometimes stumbling, over a threshold by an act of violence. In Cynthia B. Greer’s “Doris and the Dolls,” smoldering self-loathing from society’s rejection of Black Americans leads an eruption of bullying of “white girls” among Black schoolchildren, robbing the speaker of her identity and compounded the feelings of rejection. [v] In Jerri Bell’s “Vigil,” the speaker is raped by an ex-boyfriend and adopts the position of a sentry isolated in the peaks to guard against attack. [vi]
Of course, many other thematic threads emerge as well in the upcoming issue. I am confident that no matter what our readers are grasping for in their literary lives right now, their hands will land on something that holds fast in our new issue. You are invited to join us for the launch of the issue at Oliver’s Carriage House, 5410 Leaf Treader Way, Columbia, MD 21044, on Saturday, June 21st at 2:00 pm. We will have the issue for sale and contributors will read their work, followed by light refreshments and opportunity for discussion between contributors and those in attendance. The launch reading is part of the Columbia Festival of the Arts.
[i] Laura Shovan and Steven Leyva’s Editor’s Notes set the transitional tone of the issue.
[ii] Alison Turner’s story “A Runner” follows who finds her body and mind transforming during a vacation in Peru.
[iii] Benjamin Burgholzer’s* essay “Don’t Go Over Your Hip Boots” narrates a son’s slide into drug addiction and subsequent recovery by rediscovering his roots.
[iv] Michael Salcman explores the transformations of artist Lee Boot* in his essay “Time Machine: Lee Boot’s Multimedia and Conceptual Art in Service to the Urban Ideal”
[v] Cynthia Greer’s* essay “Doris and the Dolls” recounts personal and interpersonal struggle among Black schoolgirls during the Civil Rights Movement.
[vi] Jerri Bell’s* essay “Vigil” follows her up a volcanic caldera where she guards herself against rape.
*These contributors will be present for the June 21st launch reading at Oliver’s Carriage House. Details of the launch reading can be found here.