From the Ether
Though I’ve now spent more years out of school than in it, I don’t think I’ll ever quite separate the beginning of fall from the first days of school: reuniting with classmates, seeing the familiar faces of teachers, being jostled down hallways that never seem to change—just like the unvarying sound of the bell between classes or the smell of the second floor bathroom. Then there are the things that do change: your upgraded status as sophomore, maybe new clothes, a new backpack, certainly new classes, and usually a new sense of yourself.
Of all the things I miss about being in school, that newness is what I miss most—that comfortingly scheduled renewal to which everyone’s agreed, the sort of change that doesn’t ambush you or force you to shed every old part of you. Now and then the world allows a bit of space for you to take on a fresh identity (a new job, a different city, a marriage or divorce, a family death or birth). But mostly, people expect you to stay the same.
Maybe it’s because we think grown-ups who’ve finally “found themselves” remain constant, fixed. Maybe it’s because we had clearer models of evolution then—every graduating class of timid but excitedly chattering freshmen growing into wiser sophomores; ex-sophomores coming back as juniors with swagger; the old juniors, now even older, returning one last time as cynical seniors. Perhaps we’re just out of practice.
Or maybe it’s the summer.
Maybe there’s something to that long, lazy, formless period of having to do nothing and be nobody that forces a restlessness into us. It develops in us a keenness for change, for once again becoming something, someone.
Why am I saying all this now? Because so much in this latest issue of DMQ Review is about seeing things differently, about transformation. Every poem reminds me that whether or not I’m in school, I can still change, renew, feel the kind of electric thrill that comes with beginning again.
If, like me, you crave these moments of growing into a new self, then perhaps you’ll find it the way I did. First, get back those fluid, unhurried summer days by finding a quiet corner. Then, read the whole issue beginning to end. Start on Nin Andrews’s strange island of hairless, winged boys; break like the house, the woman, the man, the sand in David James’s poem; take on one of featured artist Anna Oneglia’s faces; be nothing but the “sound of air filling brown paper bags”—Shivani Mehta will show you how; touch the deck of cards, the almanac, the dust, and hair that Sarah Sloat holds out to you; and as Janet Hagelgans asks, recall what it was to sing, to be nineteen. Let it all go as our featured poet Lisa Jarnot does, “with this resistance, / with the membering of / remembering, all gone …”
Then, you and I will be ready to welcome fall, to rejoin our friends, to become whatever new self has emerged from these poems, from the golden isolation of summer.
From the ether,
Arlene Kim, Editor
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