At AWP this year, I had the good fortune to be part of a panel entitled "Recent Trends in Creative Nonfiction." While I agonized for months about what to say, I knew my talk would focus on some aspect of publishing creative nonfiction at Storyscape. Finally, just a few weeks before the conference, it dawned on me that perhaps our former contributors had something more insightful to say on the topic than I had. I ended up surveying them and asking, "How did you choose the 'truth' label for your piece that was published in Storyscape?" I got so many great answers that my talk consisted mostly of the words of our contributors, along with some thoughts on how we at Storyscape conceptualize our Truth categories. What moved me in contributors' responses was the thoughtfulness with which they took the task of determining whether their piece was "true," "untrue," or something in between.
In that vein, I'm proud to present Issue 14, which showcases the deep, funny, disturbing, enlightening work of so many new contributors across the spectrum of "Truth" and "Untruth."
Moments of discovery in our daily lives, mixed with surprising insight abound in our "Truth" section. In Devi Lockwood's powerful poem "The Water is Happy to See Us," we watch a crowd awaiting response to Mike Brown's death in Fergusun, MO, as it begins to rain, and lines like "A black man lent me his purple umbrella, was arrested, and never came back" succinctly capture a moment in time. In "Rose Ceremony," Stephanie Carpenter offers the funny and moving story of a woman receiving a rose from a doctor after a breast cancer test, which gets woven into a reflection on the Rose Ceremony on the reality show The Bachelor. In "Biology," Paul Lisicky presents a small scene in the life of his protagonist, where an insult from a stranger leads to a surprising occurrence that opens up multiple resonances to the story's title. And in the poem "Kindness," by Joy Ladin, we are invited into a quiet and revealing moment, in which God looks in on the speaker like a child checking on her "badly-cared-for" fish in a tank "wondering if they saw me."
Our "Untruth" section is often filled with inventiveness and irreverence and this issue is no exception. Perhaps one of the funniest titles we've published, "RaptureFAQ.net," by Laurie Frankel, presents a quirky website run by a couple that answers questions about the Rapture, such as, "What do I need to pack for The Rapture? Do I need to bring toiletries such as towel and soap or will basics be provided?" In the more serious and deeply resonant "Seven Pieces at a Time," Yu-Han Chao shows how seven pieces of gum become symbolic of the strange relationship between a Russian woman and Taiwanese man. And in "Seventeen," by long-time Storyscape contributor Ken Cormier, we are gifted with a tender slice-of-life story that mixes adolescent highjinks, like making out with girls and getting drunk with friends, with beautiful moments of insight and wonder.
"We Don't Know And They Won't Tell Us" is even more apt of a category this issue, where we are honored to posthumously publish a prose poem by Hoyt Jacobs, who suffered an untimely death in early 2015. Indeed, the dead "won't" and can't tell us, but their words live on and infuse our lives with meaning. And by coincidence, we have three stunning poems in this section that all struggle with the concept of death in different ways.
We are always amazed by the submissions that come through our gates, and are consistently inspired by the imaginative risks taken in the work we publish. We hope you enjoy Issue 14 as much as we do, and look forward to the new work you will send us.