Have you heard about this election? It feels fun now, but give it time. There will come a moment when you long to escape the never-ending concussion that is electoral politics, and our new Fall issue is here for you. It’s full of the best new fiction, poetry, interviews, and art—and it contains precisely zero instances of the word election. That’s our guarantee.
Combative writing has always been our tradition, even when we try to avoid it. I recently saw an article in the New York Times about Cave Canem, the group of black poets, and one of them described the trend in black literature as a “shift out of the ‘I’m a black man in America and it’s hard’ mode into the idea of ‘you are who you are, so that’s always going to be part of the poem.’ ” As if the tradition of writing about black suffering—I’ve been ’buked and scorned and all that—was dead. But why can’t you write about the hardships that black men and women face in everyday life? It was certainly hard for Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland.
Writers had better not be too cocksure that they’ve got inspiration on their side. I have seen enough writers get stuck by not being vigilant enough about the tendency of their own work to repeat itself. You can call it fear, but you can also call it a kind of vigilance that motivates a writer to keep his wits about him—or her. As the circumstances around you change and develop, if you don’t change and develop, you get stuck. You get left behind with yourself. You find that you’re in the company of somebody who’s not any longer very interesting.
There’s also new fiction from Ann Beattie, Akhil Sharma, Amie Barrodale, and Andrew Martin; new poems by Reed and Prynne, plus Major Jackson, Charles Simic, Michael Robbins, Karen Solie, Rowan Ricardo Phillips, Susan Stewart, Lawrence Joseph, and Erika L. Sánchez; an essay by Nathalie Léger; a portfolio of paintings by Lincoln Perry; and a visit to Chris Marker’s studio, photographed by Adam Bartos and curated by Ben Lerner.
Subscribe now to ensure prompt delivery—you’ll want this issue by your side in the tedious, harrowing months to come.