If poetry is a record of our time, the poems in the pages that follow are a brief entry into that vast archive. These are poems of grief, joy, remembrance, and the human experience. The gift of poetry is that it can be all of these things at once, sometimes in one single poem.
When we began production on this issue, in the middle of the first wave of pandemic lockdowns and isolation mandates, we faced many questions. Was anyone writing? Would anyone submit? Would we be able to publish? We adapted to a new life of working — and reading — from home, holding editorial discussions via Zoom meetings and long threads of emails. We saw record numbers of submissions streaming in, proof of poetry’s cathartic power and its ability to convey a spectrum of emotions and experiences.
Poetry reminds us that we are never simply shouting into the void — the void is full of the voices that came before. Every poem joins the conversation. As I write this letter, from my home “office,” I’m reminded that although we feel physically disconnected from each other, it is writing that can bring us together.
And throughout this new production process, a word I kept coming back to was “joy.” It is both the feeling of pleasure and delight, and the source of such pleasure. It is cause and effect all at once. In these poems, it appears 24 times. Nora Iuga, in a translation by Diana Manole, asks “what is joy?” and answers with “a red toy ball fallen at your feet; you rush to pick it up the same way you’d hurry to find out the end of a book you might’ve read before.”
Joy is the minutiae of daily life. Joy is the act of reading and selecting these works. Joy is a poem.