Art Editor Anna Campbell
When I first started looking through Issue 26’s art submissions, I did not know what to expect. I knew that the editors and I were on the hunt for work that exceptionally expressed our social justice theme, but I was unsure of how that idea translated into art. I began reading through our submissions, and I was astounded by the elevated level of craftsmanship I saw in many of the pieces. We had everything: vibrant colors, text+art, and haunting photographs that sent shivers up my spine. After some time, a lot of thinking, and quite a few discussions with Founding Editor Patrica Murphy and Art Faculty Advisor Rebecca Fish Ewan, I came to realize that for this issue, we wanted work that challenged the norms, celebrated diversity, and demanded our attention.
With that, I want to thank our four contributors for their outstanding work. Mary Hope Whitehead Lee’s collages combine Southwest influences and imagery to examine the challenges along the United States and Mexico border. Dara Herman Zierlein’s political cartoons target the inconsistencies regarding racial justice, women’s rights, and the pandemic. Ishaq Adekunle’s five photographs employ a mastery of color contrast to tell the stories of the African children he presents in his work, and Adde Gross’s four paintings examine the idea of environmental degradation in the midst of a pandemic through both watercolor and oil painting mediums. Adde’s work is also featured as the cover of Issue 26.
I was honored to look through the work of each of these artists, and their work prompted me to examine my own biases and to keep asking questions. I hope this section of Issue 26 will encourage you to do the same, and I am so pleased to share these art pieces with all of you.
Fiction Editor Grace Tobin
As a straight, cis-gendered, white female, I am deeply humbled to have been given the task of finding the voices for our social justice issue. Through this process, I gladly learned how to take the position of listener rather than speaker. This is a necessary position when striving to bring light to the dark atrocities of this world.
Every writer chosen enlightened parts of the world for me. Ravibala Shenoy brought me to a city in India in which a little girl had to witness sexism and classism inflicted on her close friend. Her characters are rich with life. Siamak Vossoughi brought me into the car of Hector and Gabriela, first generation Mexican-Americans who take a word as simple as “try” and expose it to be as deep as the ocean. Adrian L. Cook brought me into a terrifying future of blatant racism against Native Americans that begged the question, “Is this much different than the way things are right now?” Megan Wildhood brought me to the outside of a hospital where a drug addict lay. Her use of second person knocked the wind out of me as the reader became a character in this gorgeous story. Khanh Ha brought me into a story of a girl ripped from her homeland in China and her mother’s arms at the age of eleven. His stunning words brought me to tears.
Thank you to all the contributors of the fiction section for Issue 26. Thank you for your gift to the ever-sought-after brighter world.
Interview Editor Kendall Dawson
Social justice is more than a buzzword, more than a catchall for the pitfalls of our nation—it is a lifelong journey to an equitable existence. Superstition Review has taken this moment to work toward such a change. Taking part in this themed issue during a pivotal moment in our country is a great honor and one I will never forget. I experienced some amazing moments and a few challenging hiccups along the way, but the SR team, Trish, and faculty advisor Sarah Viren did wonders to bring everything together.
Issue 26 will feature work that traverses gender, sexuality, class, etc. and these interviewees are no different. Their works are at times painful and unthinkable, yet always insightful, honest, and full of hope. They feature notable issues such as poverty, racism, disability, and suicide. Examples include Alice Wong’s powerful showcase where readers see first-hand how holding intersectional identities alters how you’re seen in the world. Lauren Sandler uncovers how people persist amongst all the odds for peace and purpose. Overall, all the featured authors and editors do amazing work in their communities which is easily seen in their texts. I have gained new insight and reaffirmed my belief in holding compassion and grace for all. I am grateful for the time they took to answer my questions, even with the multiple shifting deadlines, thinking deeply and critically about the impact of their work.
This process as Interview Editor has been rewarding beyond measure. I hope that the prominence of representative storytelling we have embarked on this semester is step one of consistent inclusivity and sensitivity to marginalized stories that deserve attention from the editors and the readers of our magazine. Our advocacy, however small, makes everlasting ripples.
Nonfiction Editor Sharon Enck
Essays have the power to bring the writer and reader together through shared experiences. For this issue surrounding social justice, that power was even more palpable. Through compassion, understanding, and empathy, these writers have granted readers the opportunity to join in their message. In an act of both kindness and generosity, Keene Short opted to withdraw his essay in order to give that spot, and opportunity, to a writer of color. I felt that generous spirit, like a thread, throughout all the essays we chose.
It was in Kate Heinen's generous belief in a political system that was failing her and the victims of domestic abuse. That thread crisscrossed the globe with Kit Auner whose gender identity was constantly in question. Despite the challenges, they gave themself the permission to be seen, their truth to be told, and have accepted who they are. Eric Tran conveyed it through his exploration of how, in this time of intense racial hate, and physical illness, we all need to be generous with ourselves, with each other, and to just breathe. Despite his doubts, and guilt, Adam Fout has generous belief in the possibility of a second chance for an incarcerated man. It is in Mike Ekunno's belief that the nightmare of racism and police brutality are just that for now, a nightmare to be woken up from.
Thank you to these writers for inviting us into their lives, it's been a great pleasure to be a witness to these deeply personal stories.
Poetry Editor Erin Peters
My appreciation for poetry has grown ten-fold after reading through more than 450 unique submissions for Issue 26. Inside of each submission, I met writers who were passionate about their art and who used their talents to speak out about a wide range of social justice issues. The poets we selected represent a group of talented writers with diverse experiences, addressing injustices in settings such as museums, buses and even children’s sandboxes.
What stood out most about the writers featured in this issue was their craftsmanship and innovation. Ayokunle Falomo comments on pandemic America in graceful couplets, Darius Atefat-Peckham writes a tribute to the women in his life in skillful prose, Dorsía Smith Silva uses repetition to protest the violence of American history, Henry 7. Reneau Jr. uses innovative form to call readers to action, Kathleen Hellen submits a strong critique of the conflation of pop culture and politics, Madari Pendas addresses generational tension in cross-racial relationships, Marcy Rae Henry explores her Mexican-American heritage while weaving seamlessly between two languages, Quintin Collins creates a vivid setting in which to address racial biases, Sjohanna McCray expertly shapes his stanzas to flow like memory, and Tori Cárdenas opposes war in less than ten lines.
Yes, I would proudly say that the poetry in Issue 26 is beautiful, compelling and skillful. More importantly, however, I would say that it challenges injustices such as racial profiling, police burtality, and economic inequality while pushing for a future in which these injustices no longer have a place.
It was an honor to read work from such inspiring and talented writers. I’m grateful for all I have learned in my time as Poetry Editor and am excited to share this impressive collection of poems with our readers.