We are thrilled to announce the online publication of the Summer 2018 Issue of Letters!
The literary canon is suffused with spiritual and religious themes. From the overtly religious poetics of Herbert, Donne, and Eliot to Rilke’s angels and Whitman’s antic joy—we find intimations of the divine pervading the history of English literature. Such a thing bears repeating in the current age, for religious writing has recently become a “genre,” a topic among hundreds of other topics which literature may engage. Historically, however, it might be said that spiritual and religious questions are the subject to which every other topic relates. For instance, the modernist poet William Carlos Williams famously wrote: “So much depends/ upon/ a red wheel/ barrow.” Though there is no evidence that he meant those lines to convey religious meaning, we could ask: What does it say about the world that ignorable tools used to haul dirt and chicken crap could become emotionally, say, spiritually radiant? And what is beautiful about that? And, then, what does beauty say?
This journal is committed to promoting artists, visual and literary, who labor in and towards such questions. To write with spiritual questions or affections in mind does not mean to write without doubt, or to write without bearing the full burden of questioning’s ambiguities. And so in this issue, the reader will find both Ken Goshen’s meditation on the relational quality of challah bread and Stephen Cushman’s ekphrastic inquiry into doubt and time; Amy Cannon’s resonant, lyric rendering of desert spirituality and Kazim Ali’s jubilant soundscapes. The artists represented here wield language, form, and color to probe the outer (and inner) limits of human experience. Theirs is a creative orientation which invites speculation about ultimate questions—that is to say, questions about God.
The editors are proud to present to you the product of much collaborative work and many difficult decisions. The Summer 2018 Issue of Letters features works that demonstrate artistic excellence, spiritual ambition, and a shared sense of wrestling with or exalting in the divine. Which is not to say that all the artists and writers presented here intend that effect. But their works do allow for the kind of reading we find most important—reading that deepens our sense of the vast array of human experiences and urges us towards more rigorous engagement with faith, doubt, and longing.
Cover Image: Vivian Calderón Bogoslavsky, Cadavár Exquisito, acrylic, plastic, and stucco on canvas
Letters Logo: Ivanka Galadza