I. An appendage of my stepdaughter’s hand, pink as the…
At the beginning of the year, one of my dear friends, whom I believe to be one of the best readers I know, started a Facebook campaign. Each day she collects a book—driving to purchase one from a bookshop in nearby Owensboro, ordering one online, or culling one from her deceased mother’s collection that remains in storage. “Today’s Accumulated Book,” she labels her posts, and two hundred days into the year, she has amassed a library of varying genres and quality.
On the literary side, there is Thomas Merton’s The Seven Storey Mountain, Jesse Graves’s latest poetry collection Basin Ghosts, even an advance reader’s copy of Marilynne Robinson’s Lila—a book that my friend went to great trouble and online investigation to accumulate. There is the whimsical—100 Favorite Songs for the Ukelele (my friend doesn’t play) and Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book (she makes some fine country ham and biscuits). And then there are the guilty pleasures, including Little Gloria…Happy at Last—a biography of Gloria Vanderbilt—and Howard Fast’s The Establishment, which chronicles the marriage trials of a former socialite and a poor mechanic.
I look forward to reading my friend’s posts each day, wondering what kind of book she will collect, and I often reflect on how much the volumes mean to her, both individually and collectively. They are family members, treasured companions with which she has formed a relationship. In doing so, she agrees with writer and teacher Richard Hague, who observes in his book Lives of the Poem, “Poems are living things. And because they are living things, the same degree of attentiveness and the same diligence and tolerance and creativity necessary to establishing and maintaining human friendships are necessary to developing a friendship with poetry.”
It goes without saying that Hague’s statement, although focused on poetry, also relates to other literary genres. To be a good reader—and certainly a writer—one must have a deep, abiding love of words, of a particularly lyrical phrase, of a moving character and gripping narrative.
In this issue, I predict you will find stories, essays, and poems with which you will form a close bond. You will be absorbed by James Braziel’s story “Watersmeet,” A.W. Marshall’s “Foundered,” and Leah Hampton’s “Queen.” You will marvel at Sonja Livingston’s mastery of form in her lyric essay “Blue Kentucky Girl.” You will be moved by the rhythm and images found in the poetry of Pauletta Hansel, Samantha Lynn Cole, and others included here. You will ponder on the musings of George Ella Lyon and Erica Abrams Locklear in their essays on craft and literary theme, and you will be intrigued by the thoughts of Richard Hague, whose interview is featured in this issue.
In his beautiful play Shadowlands, which depicts the tragic love story of British writer C.S. Lewis and American poet Joy Davidman, William Nicholson has Lewis muse, “We read to know we’re not alone.”
I leave you now to make some new friends.