Emerge Literary Journal: 2023
Enter 2023. A new year, a new issue, all new work to publish, amplify, and sit with, and sit with it, I did. After I read Issue 25 the first time through, I remembered reading about how we hold traumas and stress in our bodies and how our bodies, minds, and souls are intricately intertwined with one another. One affects the other, both in pain and in healing. It was a time when I was struggling with a bout of sadness and this issue was the only thing I could absorb into my body to heal, and so, I read it again. Instantly, I felt as though I were being hugged by some sort of tranquil thing as though it were giving me back something I had lost in the wake of loss everywhere. Since that day, I’ve been looking for the weight of loss everywhere, like a blanket you wrap around your shoulders on a snowy day or that one mug that makes the coffee taste that much better. Just like all those little things a mother would do for you when you’re not feeling well.
This issue is also, in a way, a treatise on grieving, like little blue fragments of loss intertwined, and yet, the contributors spoke to me without knowing anything about what I was going through. I find refuge in this blue. In fact, it has become a welcome daily companion. Its various hues provide different reactions attainable by merely reaching into Issue 25 like a closet looking for a sweater: the one that refreshes me, the one that calms, the other one that stimulates, that particular one that makes me feel pretty. I’m finding new shades in the same clothes but different words, the same things I’ve been wearing for years without noticing their magical effects. Loss holds magic in the same way that myths do. After all, every story or poem is an attempt for us to cling to the past and hold on to morsels of time. Life is impermanent, and it is painful for us to admit to ourselves that our reality is doomed to fade as soon as it is experienced. Loss means embracing the heartaches, the pain, the abandonment, grief, joy, hope, and beauty… all of it, in the way you both hold it in your body and release it. As you read this issue, a single word, a sentence, a paragraph, a stanza, inhale, allow yourself to feel. Embrace the beauty of risk and watch the magic unfold, as you experience the way grieving can make you rediscover the meanings in things. In a way, it gives you permission to hold onto something, simple things—even ones that were always there—that accompany you on this bizarre journey, helping you to keep going and to think that all this can somehow eventually make sense. But now that I have discovered this powerful companion in grief, I want to share its secrets with you, dear reader, because sometimes it’s easier to look outside to remember what lies within.
There’s a special kind of intimacy in watching snow fall. The poets speak better of this, but there’s an anguish in the feeling of winter. It’s the same feeling, I imagine, history teaches us in the art of loss, for it is the scribe of time. Empires die, nations fall, kings are dethroned, treasures are lost. Like the falling snow, or the petals of dying roses, though, great literature teaches us that nothing is certain, nor permanent. Releasing loss means practicing the art of kissing things before letting them go; it reinforces the narrative that not all loss is bitter, and abandonment is only a myth. I want your life to be beautiful. I want it to be full of joy, hope, and yearning for a more gentle tomorrow. I want you to give yourself grace, peace, and serenity. I want you to wake up with the sunrise and greet the dawn with anticipation and yearning for the unknown. Practice the art of loss—in your craft and in connecting with another writer’s story. In spite of all the empires falling, here you are now—alive, and reading this. Allow your life to be full of beauty, adventure, and yes, even loss too. Absorb it, hold it in, let it go.
Be Well. Write Well. Read Well.
On Inishmurray || Jill Fuller
March Poem || Joanna Cleary
You think you know || Madeleine French
But why start anything so close to the end? || Ian Campbell
Dear Mom, || Thomas Hobohm
Blood Moon || Mia Herman
The Box || Ivan de Monbrison
ELJ believes that #mentalillnessawareness and #endingthestigma are of paramount importance. We believe in the necessity of sharing our mental illness and trauma stories to facilitate writing through illness and create broader awareness. We’ve created this corner to allow writers to not only share their stories but to be home to those who share in their experiences.
A Body in Review || Audrey T. Carroll
Move-in Ready || Elizabeth Allison
The Steamy Annual Ritual of Homemade Pummarola || LindaAnn LoSchiavo
Howl and Whisper || Eileen Vorback Collins
Jump || Dawn Kelley Slifer
Ghost Baby || Rachel Laverdiere
The Early Morning Hours I Didn’t Know Would Be Our Last || Anne Elliott
In Line for the Rotor on the Last Night of the County Fair While KC and the Sunshine Band Plays a Song Her Parents Love But She Only Knows from the Recent Bud Light Seltzer Commercial || Miriam Gershow
Contortionists || Keith J. Powell
The Lion || Bethany Jarmul
A Day Later || Eleonora Balsano