At Storyscape we have yet to do a theme issue, but somehow themes tend to emerge even when we're not seeking them out. In this issue that was definitely the case. At some point I said to myself: "Wow. There are a lot of freaky carnival stories in this issue." Soon later I discovered the art of Michael Heston, our cover artist, who just happened to put together an exhibit entitled "Where Pigs Fly," which also features a carnival theme.
I began to wonder why so many writers seemed to be gravitating toward the carnivalesque. Perhaps it is in the realm of the absurd that we can make sense of an incomprehensible reality. Beyond mere escapism from the despair of daily news, these kinds of stories create a universe where the truth can take on other guises.
Populated in these stories you will meet Herman Ludwig, a boy who sneaks out of his bedroom at night to explore a secret carnival world in the woods, in Brett Puryear's "Keep That Sugar in Your Pocket"; a dancing bear in a 1940s Hungarian carnival in Daniel Nykios's "Exhibition"; an Elvis impersonator visiting a nursing home on Christmas in Dzivinia Orlowsky's "At the End of Your Life"; a cast of characters with names like Dr. Twang, "Dr. Poem & Mr. Hide," in Tim Hunt's poems; and the fascinating character of Gil Simmons in Nin Andrews's series of prose poems; among many others.
Among stories of the fantastic, there are true stories in which our narrators struggle to make sense of their realities: a young boy dealing with his mother's mental illness in Dean Kostos's "Crazy-Germs"; a diaristic narrative exploring the complexities of feeling unsafe as a black woman amidst reports of a rapist in her Harlem neighborhood in DéLana R.A. Dameron's "Phantasmagoria"; a mother's attempt to fathom how to raise children in a society where school shootings are becoming the norm in Celia Bland's "Instructions for Children."
This issue is abundant with hilarious, complicated, entertaining, and heart-wrenching work thanks to our devoted volunteer staff. We were fortunate to have Jeff Friedman step in as guest prose editor. Jeff solicited a significant portion of the writing that appears in this issue, making the collection that much more rich and robust.
We are also delighted to welcome new staff: managing editor and assistant poetry editor Michelle Campagna; prose editor, Raygun Louise; art editors Sean Martorana and Mike Jackson; and web designer Kevin Romoser. We say a heartfelt goodbye to Theresa Benaquist who served as prose editor, and who founded the wonderful journal Anthem, and to Jordan Rome, who served as our intrepid web designer.
We hope you enjoy the newly designed website and all the treasures you'll discover within!