Welcome to Drunken Boat#15, our first issue of 2012, a leap year that has been mythologized and demonized as epiphanic, apocalyptic, and/or potentially spiritually transformative. This year has a certain resonance across cultures, whether viewed as the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, to the completion of a great cycle of days in the Mayan calendar, but for us at Drunken Boat, it is mostly a marker of the distance that we’ve travelled and the new vistas that appear on the horizon, some of which are being mapped and explored in this new issue.
First, you’ll notice that we’ve adopted a new look and feel. Our design, courtesy of Art Editor Rob Ray, is meant to facilitate reading and to be easy to navigate, and to foreground the work of the many talented artists and writers we are featuring in this issue. We are also inaugurating our Reviews Section, curated by our Reviews Editor, Shira Dentz. We plan to review books of all varieties in our coming issues, so if you are an author or publisher interested in having something reviewed, please reach out to us. Please also feel free to let us know what you think of the new design or any other aspect of Drunken Boat#15 by sending a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our two special folios in this issue are entitled Native American Women Poets (curated by Layli Long Solidier), and Handmade/Homemade (curated by former Drunken Boat Fiction Editor Deborah Poe). Soldier who is Oglala Lakota and hails from South Dakota and northwestern Idaho, has gathered together a range of voices, forms and styles to show us the richness and diversity of indigenous women’s poetry today. The Handmade/Homemade folio breaks with our usual practice of highlighting digital technologies and works that employ the medium of the web as part of their compositional strategy; in this case, we are exhibiting traces of a more ancient form, that of the book arts. This folio is being published in conjunction with an exhibition at Pace University in Westchester (with a sister exhibit at Kelly Writers House in Philadelphia) that includes handmade, homemade and letterpress chapbooks, broadsides, one-of-a-kind editions, artist collaborations and the construction of texts from unorthodox materials.
This issue also includes a special Nonfiction section that was guest edited by the wonderful Suzanne Paola. As Nonfiction Editor Heather Bryant says, “each of the essays in this folio captures, in one way or another, the defiance of the body to explanation, logic, or science.” Suzanne Paola has gathered together the essays of those who “live with difference” and the “dual expectation of performance and silence.” What is unspeakable about disease? What is an illness that doesn’t manifest itself physically or a disability that is accompanied by no concomitant psychological degeneration? In some ways, illness is the final taboo—a matrix of highly subjective, personal conditions that cannot be articulated without stigmata—and yet it is also at the center of medical research and an ever-expanding industry of purported remedies. This folio pushes the boundaries of what we call CNF and asks what shapes an essay can take.
Finally, this issue also augurs a time of transition, as we have on board a new Managing Editor (Suzanne Marie Hopcroft, who took over from Heidi St. Jean), a new Fiction Editor (Sybil Baker), a new Poetry Editor (Michelle Chan Brown), an interim Nonfiction Editor (Erin Wilcox) and our multitalented Advisory Board whom we hope will provide us many ideas for the future. Drunken Boat continues to thrive and change—perhaps we might even say in light of this issue to mutate and evolve—and we offer our thanks to you, our dedicated readership, for helping this journey of exploration to continue. Wait, did we just say exploration? Well, that’s a hint of things to come in our next issue. Keep an eye on our blog to keep track of the performances and events that we will sponsor in celebration of Issue 15 and our daily efforts to keep bring you the best and most innovative art and literature we can.