Editor Aesthetic Statements

As a graduate-student-run literary magazine, our tastes are always changing as editors come and go. The aesthetic statements are provided below to give a snapshot of our editors’ current thoughts, in case you’re curious. But we’re always looking to be surprised!

Fiction Editor: Sophie Stein

“I guess I believe in the idea that love equals attention and vice versa – so if we pay enough attention to a fictional character, even if he’s a total schmuck, the resulting piece of prose will be an act of love (in its highest and best sense) toward him.” -George Saunders

I’m seeking stories that ask questions rather than providing answers. I hope to see fiction that interrogates the world in which we live, that asks “why” rather than simply “what if.” I love formal inventiveness: pieces that play with structure, works that frustrate linear time. I hope to see stories that mete out joy and suffering in equal measure, stories that make me laugh, stories that make me reconsider my own selfhood. Treat your characters with care, with love, even if that means mining their flaws. 

I want to see stories from unconventional points of view: send me stories in the second person, stories with multiple narrators, stories that frustrate the idea of what a narrator might be in the first place. Show me protagonists you wish you saw more often in fiction. Send me your riskiest, weirdest work. Send me stories I don’t already know—messy stories, experiments that echo and loop back on themselves rather than reaching a neat resolution. Send me sentences that will stop me in my tracks: I love a gorgeous, musical line. But I love linguistic economy, too; no word should be wasted in short fiction.

I aim to lean into the strange side of our “carefully strange” aesthetic, so if uncanny shit happens in your work, send it my way. I’ll add as a caveat that speculative or surreal elements must serve a thematic purpose within the world of the story. Above all things, treat your work, your characters, and your readers with empathy and vulnerability. 

And, always, thank you.

Nonfiction Editor: Tyler Raso

I love trouble, tattoos, and oak trees. I love pieces that pay attention and make decisions and hug one another even in the sunburst heat. I am interested in nonfiction that discovers and practices new ways of seeing, that dreams new ways of being, that is process more than it is product. Pieces that buck against what we’re told is necessary in order to be beautiful, musical, whole. Pieces that sing new shapes for time to be in and out of. Pieces that live their own language/s. I love work that ruptures away from straight, cisgendered, white, able-bodied, neurotypical spacetime, work that is revolution, work that is care. I am interested in work with several authors and several hearts. I am interested in interdisciplinary work, work that troubles the assumptions of genre and form, that intervenes in capitalist, colonial mechanisms and mythologies. I am interested in work that surprises itself, that asks questions, that transforms. I love you. I love joy. I love love and sorrow, which are often the same.

A list of (recent & incomplete & growing) Creative Nonfiction(ish) loves:

Ashon T Crawley & Maggie Nelson & Brian Broome

José Estaban Muñoz & Elissa Washuta

Adriana Páramo & Saidiya Hartman & Bhanu Kapil

Billy-Ray Belcourt & T Fleischmann &&&

Poetry Editor: S.J. Ghaus

I care about living poems — poems that are a living matter — that shape our daily imagination, and therefore reverently mold our living itself, by manifesting care, abolition, solidarity, and love for each other and the earth. In the literary traditions of my people, “poetry” is more accurately described as poetic knowledge — as Nosheen Ali writes, a multidimensional knowledge form that constitute[s] a way of being and [an] ethical-political philosophy. I am seeking poems that are aware of their power as astral beings in a felt universe we all inhabit. These poems, which Audre Lorde might call a revelatory distillation of experience, practice re-making the world into their care-full, sacred visions. Send me your poems that interrupt colonial literary hierarchies, that converse with ancestors, that collaborate with the birches and mosses and mycelium of the forest, that weave time and history out of linearity and into their organic shapes. Send me multilingual poems, poems in english working in non-western literary traditions, poems that experiment with translation. Poems that, in the words of June Jordan, in mercy fathom. These are prefigurative poems.

I want poems that dance and sing and praise and mourn in languages they invent for themselves. Breathe life into dead tongues. Practice beauty as a method (thank you, Christina Sharpe). Say thank you in your poems, again and again. Find that line in the woods where your sorrow-wilderness meets another’s (thank you, Ross Gay). Count your joys. Count your griefs. Together, as a verb. Build power with, not power over. Make poetic interventions into the violence of the status quo. Surprise the reader with unexpected tenderness — or actually, rewrite the reader so we might expect tenderness. After all, as abolitionist organizer Mariame Kaba says, Everything worthwhile is done with other people.

Let these poems be wolves, howling at the moon. Let them whale/wail, so they might sound our lyric selves towards a gorgeous collectivity.

One more note: Shockingly, I am not an expert in every poetic tradition! If you are writing with untranslateable beauties / “literary devices” that I actually need to be aware of to fully consider your poem, you are welcome to provide context in your letter.