Since VIDA started collecting statistics on the degree to which women are represented in literary journals, we have been proud to be a women-run journal that consistently features women and non-binary writers, almost always in the majority. This issue is no exception, and we’re proud that so many women’s stories are represented here. On a personal note, I also became a new mom a little over six months ago, an experience that, for myself at least, has attuned me to the power of relationships in our lives, not just between parents and children but also between friends and life partners. So I can’t help but notice the thread of relationships in these stories in Issue 16.
Among the mothers in this issue, we find poems by Maya Pindyck, who describes a newborn as an “unbound / animal pulsing blood and fur between the stars / that find us on our knees,” and Leslie Contreras Schwartz, who likens a daughter to God: “God, the girl, girl the God, / falling to the same knees / where no one is there to listen.” Elana Bell, in “Prayer,” shows us the less glamorous side of motherhood: “When I stink of puke & milk & shit / When I begin to lose my grown up words / from lack of use …” And I love the appearance of the mother figure in “Buzzfeed Bible,” by Albert Thomas, a poem which describes the slow, inky death of an iPhone: “If mama’s calls could get through, / she’d whisper, ‘God is strong, but he can’t clasp your / hands’.” And the mother who slips in to cast judgment on her daughter’s friendship in Maria Alvarez’s, “Badlands”: “My mother only knew her as esa hippie cochina—that dirty hippie.”
Women’s stories in this issue are not just beautiful and messy, but often dangerous. Sarah Blake reveals this danger up close in poems like “A Threat” and “Mouths” (“For a second, the light / made that glass in her mouth / look like a knife”). Jessica Roeder, in the story “Care,” which refers to the rape of a young girl at a carnival, reflects: “Women healed so well that sometimes it seemed another injustice, a faulty design that made them convenient to injure.”
A poem on “The Brooklyn Enigma,” by Kryssa Schemmerling, revisits the Victorian-era figure of the “fasting girl” who starved herself and claimed to have magical powers. Moira McAvoy’s story, “The Dreams You Chose to Populate,” beautifully depicts the eroticism and thwarted desires of female friendship: “I made a point to do my makeup when she did in the morning before school so I could see what our faces looked like together in the mirror.”
While we are proud to consistently feature so much amazing work by women writers, we continue to encourage non-binary writers, LGBTQ writers, and writers of color to submit to the journal. These communities are represented in many of our issues, but we like to periodically remind you: Hi! We want to read your work! Please submit! Thanks!