Only two months ago, on February 7th, we posted the Call for Submissions for this issue: Conserving Home. We thought then of forest fires, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, garden variety natural disasters, along with political ones of our own concoction—that these were the leading threats to our globe, the ones we asked poets to write about. As we look now, with the benefit of hindsight, over the poems we received, we are both moved and chastened by noting the human scale of suffering described in these verses written before the super-human breadth and intensity of the world-wide Covid-19 pandemic. That said, we have vitamins here to fortify body and mind: stories of individual triumph, the return of a grandmother’s ashes to Zeina Azzam’s Palestine, of Stephen Dunn’s love at great cost, the dim light of the lost Pleiade, and this particularly haunting reminiscence of New Yorker Susana Case, “all over my city, mournful falls, improbable rises.”
There are great and seasoned poets here: Stephen Dunn and Grace Cavalieri sent us two beauts from their homes in the heart of Maryland. There are dynamic poets on the rise: Greenway and Jett strolling in Washington Grove, Berger in and out of the Beltway, Barger penning surrealist visions in Philadelphia, Zeina Azzam’s migrant lyrics and Mark Pawlak sending us news from the bird feeder in his garden, and many more; Claudia Serea; Cathy Gonick; Roberto Cristiano; Liza Achilles, Ron Riekki; Bruce Spang; Diana Woodock; and David Salner. We present poets from distant climes such as the Irish Anne Casey, a resident now of Sydney, Australia and Jonathan Harrington in the Yucatán, Mexico. We are proud of our “Beltway and beyond” focus, and delighted that we are opening up to the world with this issue, publishing cogent work on our earthly home. Have a read. Enjoy. Be changed. Utterly, or just a bit.
And last, but not least, we are inaugurating with this issue a curated space for comment, criticism, and reviews about contemporary poetry. Do read John Wall Barger’s review on Melanie Janisse Barlow’s Thicket.
Indran Amirthanayagam, Editor
Sara Cahill Marron, Associate Editor
April 10, 2020
near Washington D.C.