Letter from the EditorsDear Readers,
One year ago, we were scrambling to get last year’s issue sent to the printers on our last day allowed on campus before we were sent home to quarantine for the first time. None of us could have imagined the events, the tragedies, and the endless making of DIY cloth face masks that we are now so familiar with. We could spend the entirety of this page enumerating the ways that this year has, quite frankly, sucked. We have experienced a renewed sense of anxiety for the health of our bodies and minds. We have watched our planet be choked with smoke from wildfires. We have mourned the losses of Black and Asian American lives, and been forced to confront the white supremacy that plagues our country. And we have missed each other.
In searching for a theme for this year’s magazine, we wanted something that would allow our readers and contributors to confess their fears and sadnesses, but not to wallow in them. We have centered this magazine around the idea of good bones, inspired by a poem of the same name by Maggie Smith. Smith writes, “The world is at least fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative estimate, though I keep this from my children… I am trying to sell them the world.” But she concludes her poem with the message that “This place could be beautiful, right? You could make this place beautiful.” We asked our contributors to keep this in mind—that the world has proved itself time and time again this year to be “at least fifty percent terrible,” but also that there are good bones. There is something beautiful here worth indulging in.
Our contributors walked this line between acknowledgment of the difficult reality we are living in and the ever-present beauty beneath as well. Jordan Ducree, in “avocado/bagel/creamcheese/dog,” makes the mundanity of a morning routine remarkable—a collection of vivid sensory details and heartfelt moments shared with a canine roommate. Hannah Pickens’s photo, “laundry day,” complements Ducree’s celebration of the ordinary in her stunning capture of hand-washing clothes in a sun-soaked sink. While Murphy Bradshaw mourns the loss of a 194-year-old apple tree in “1826 / 2020,” Carlos Fuentes reflects on a sandpiper’s wandering along a beach in his poem, “A Piper’s Trace.” Other poets and artists work to ensure we do not forget the strenuous times we have had, with Sophie Kerr-Davis’s “WARNING: THIS IS NOT A TEST (Second-Hand Smoke)” depicting a reality eerily similar to the blanket of smoke Portland was trapped under during the forest fires last fall and Libby Callahan’s collage, “The Value of Suffering,” underscoring the frantic, jumbled nature of the past year. This issue of Writers is not limited to the bleakness, though, as Hannah Monti, in “Primary Source,” reminds us to soak in the moments of silence and Andre Jaurigui’s “Câlin” illustrates the beauty of a slow day spent on the couch.
We hope you are able to find solace in the following pages—assurance in your exhaustion and anger, but also a gentle prompt to remember the bloom of poppies, sunsets that stretch over highways, neighbors that will lend you cups of sugar, and the comforting warmth of a mug of tea in your hand.
Sophie Downing & Sadie Wuertz
- Senior Editors
- Sophie Downing
- Timur Arifdjanov
- Jo Geisen
- Cora Hyatt
- Margaux Lynch
- Jennifer Ng
- Prof. John McDonald
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