Dodge Updates and BLM Support Statement

Friends and readers of the Artful Dodge:

We’ve been quiet at the Dodge lately for a variety of reasons: our founding editor’s retirement, a resulting change in editorship, the coronavirus pandemic. We have some administrative updates about the Dodge to share with you, which will come at the end of this post, but first we need to speak to this moment by saying: Black Lives Matter. 

On May 25, 2020, four Minneapolis police officers murdered a Black man named George Floyd in an act of horrific violence. In the aftermath of his death, his name has become a rallying cry for antiracist movements around the world. 

We must remember George Floyd’s name, and the names of others: Ahmaud Arbery, James Scurlock, Tony McDade, David McAtee, Breonna Taylor. We must also recognize that their deaths are part of a heartbreakingly vast history of devastation visited upon Black people in the name of white supremacy.

Millions around the world have taken to the streets to protest and mourn. Some have just woken up to the brutality of racism; many have been working tirelessly for racial justice for years. Together they demand change on all levels of society, in all areas, from emergency response to healthcare to education–not only justice for George Floyd, but true justice and equity for all. 

We at the Artful Dodge stand unequivocally opposed to all overt and covert forms of racism. In this time of sorrow and courage, fury and hope, we want to support the voices of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) activists speaking out about the changes our world needs, including the abolition and defunding of institutions that act to preserve racist power. Below, we’ve gathered some resources for readers to learn and take action in support of racial justice. 

We are learning and thinking, too, and are dedicated to figuring out how we as editors of a literary magazine based at a small liberal arts college can contribute to antiracist work not just in the publishing industry and academia, but beyond–in our lives that we spend off the page. We will report back in the future with specific actions we plan to undertake. 

Once more: Black Lives Matter. So do Black words, Black art, Black passion, Black scholarship, Black innovation and joy. 

*

The administrative updates we promised: first, our founding editor, Daniel Bourne, is retiring from his teaching at the College of Wooster, our home institution, and is handing over the reins of editorship he took up in 1979 to his colleague in the English Department, writer Katharine Beutner. Watch our soon-to-be-updated website and social media this summer for a farewell message from Dan. 

Due in part to the coronavirus pandemic, we will not be publishing a new issue this summer–but we aim to publish our next issue by the end of 2020, and we anticipate opening a new reading period for submissions in the fall. Updates on this to come as well. Currently, we are working our way through a backlog of submissions. We appreciate your patience and look forward to reading your work again soon.  

With hope and determination,

Katharine Beutner & Daniel Bourne

 

Learn more about the Movement for Black Lives and amplify their demands:

 

https://m4bl.org/ 

 

Donate:

 

https://nymag.com/strategist/article/where-to-donate-for-black-lives-matter.html 

 

https://bailfunds.github.io/ 

 

Support Black artists, businesses, and bookstores:

 

https://www.blackartinamerica.com/index.php/2020/03/20/supporting-black-artists-and-businesses-during-covid-19-crisis/

 

https://shoppeblack.us/

 

https://shoppeblack.us/2020/03/black-owned-online-bookstores1/

 

https://lithub.com/you-can-order-today-from-these-black-owned-independent-bookstores/

 

Suggested anti-racist reading:

 

https://bookshop.org/lists/antiracist-reading-list

 

Publishing equity:

 

#PublishingPaidMe, a hashtag and Google doc collecting information on advances and book deals to expose racial disparities in compensation: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Xsx6rKJtafa8f_prlYYD3zRxaXYVDaPXbasvt_iA2vA/edit?usp=sharing

 

Posted in Uncategorized, Updates

Fresh Perspectives: The Artful Dodge Welcomes a New Assistant Editor

Greetings to the reader and the Artful Dodge blog,

My name is Cole, and I’m a sophomore at The College of Wooster; I’m just short of a year of assistant editing for the Dodge. I have always been interested in creative writing and am an avid reader. I’ve also gotten used to evaluating and editing others’ work at Wooster’s Writing Center, so when I saw a posting for a position with the Dodge last semester, I decided to apply.

When I started working for the Dodge, I was both nervous and ecstatic. My biggest concern was whether I would have anything substantial to say about the submissions we received. During the first meeting, I expected to sit back and let the more experienced people in the room speak while I mutely nodded my head in agreement. That plan was quickly derailed when Professor Bourne asked for my opinion on a poem. I didn’t really think I “got” the poem, but I reviewed it honestly anyway. My commentary, which I suspected would be brushed over, was then examined further with follow-up questions as Professor Bourne consulted the other students. For the next couple meetings, I still mostly stayed quiet, but I quickly learned that any opinion I had, whether it be that I simply liked the piece or that it wasn’t working for me, was both a valid response and contestable. Partway through the first semester, I opened up more without feeling intimidated by the possible disagreement of my peers.

During my second semester with the Dodge, I have been even more excited to get back to collaborating with other students and discussing submissions. My favorite part about this experience is seeing the process by which submissions are chosen for issues. Here, individual staff members nominate submissions for review by the group, and those are discussed and voted on during the weekly meeting. Understanding why some works are chosen over others helps me feel more confident about my own writing. This semester, I am excited about the new responsibilities that I have been offered, one of which includes making occasional posts on this blog. I can’t wait to make more in the future!

 

—Cole Ward, Assistant Editor

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Artful Reflections

As I begin another semester working for the Artful Dodge, I’ve spent some time reflecting on how much has been accomplished the past year or so. Personally, I’ve gone from being a confused and bewildered novice to a confident and only occasionally bewildered “old hat,” though I know that I still have much to learn. The locked doors I faced when I first started working for the Dodge have opened both literally and figuratively, and I can usually brave the spooky Lilly House attic without expecting a ghost around each cobwebbed corner. Most importantly, I have learned to work with others to create something as unique and diverse as this literary magazine.

Last year, we published our long-awaited issue, Artful Dodge 54/55, and I couldn’t help but notice the beauty in this achievement. I imagined the writers as they sat at their laptops and writing desks over a year ago, weaving words from the filaments of thoughts and sending them our way. Now, those same words sit between glossy covers, spun into gold after being read, reread, and reread again. Together, many minds fashioned something from nothing, turning stacks of paper into a volume full of stories and art. If I have learned anything up to this point, it is that literature is as much about collaboration as it is creation. That, in turn, is how we grow as writers, readers, and people.

 

—Holly Engel, Assistant Editor

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Daniel Bourne Reads Poetry in Translation

Artful Dodge would like to announce that this Friday, June 28, editor Daniel Bourne will be reading his own poetry in Polish translation as part of the the poetry reading series “Wiersze na piętrze” (Poetry Upstairs). This series is run by the literary magazine/publishing house Topos, and it takes place at Dworek Sierakowskich in Sopot, a resort city just to the north of Gdansk, Poland. Currently, Bourne is in Poland working on various translation projects.

Want to know more?  Click here for more information on Bourne’s poetry reading, or take a look at his website.

– Holly Engel, Assistant Editor

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A Map of Our Contributors

Artful Dodge is a bustling literary crossroads, with contributors of poetry, prose, and artwork reaching from the lakes of South Korea to the Florida panhandle, from western Australia to the farmland of central Ohio. Use this map to travel those roads yourself, covering 10,000 miles in a single click and connecting the disparate strands of imagination.  Of course, to attain the work itself, you must travel to our Submittable link to order a copy of AD 54/55 for yourself and your own corner of the globe.

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Forming Connections: Reflecting on Suzanne Rivecca’s “Homeostasis”

Like the narrator in Suzanne Rivecca’s short story “Homeostasis,” I have always been fascinated by organ donation. Reader, I hope this does not come across as crass or strange. I do not mean that I have fantasized about cutting organs out of bodies (in fact, the unit in my middle school biology class where we had to dissect dead worms and fish made me sick). When I say that I am fascinated by organ donation, I mean that I think it is incredible that we can cut parts of ourselves out and give them to other people, that someday my heart or my liver or my kidney or my lungs could be living inside someone else’s body. I am an organ donor, after all. There is a bright red heart in the corner of my driver’s license to prove it. What I find so interesting about organ donation, I think, is the connection it forms between bodies. “Homeostasis” is a story about many things, but at its core, the narrative revolves around formed and failed connections.

“Homeostasis” was published in Artful Dodge 46/47 as part of the AWP Writing Awards, a program that selects the best poetry and fiction from undergraduate and graduate writing programs. The story follows Andrew, a widowed father who struggles to connect with his teenage daughter and keep his job working in a scientific research lab, where he experiments on toads. His fascination with kidneys and organ transplants stems from his research in the lab and is also a touchstone in his complex relationship with his daughter, Samantha. Throughout the course of the story, Samantha is repeatedly getting in trouble at school, and Andrew finds himself unable to connect with and understand her. Samantha is in love with the past, repeatedly wearing her father’s old clothing, crying over pictures of her mother, and writing scathing columns in the school newspaper about her generation’s taste in music. What I found most touching and interesting about this story was the focus on the characters’ relationships with each other.

Through simple, first person prose, Rivecca drew me into Andrew’s private world of research, anguish, and love. One scene in particular that stood out to me was when Andrew discovers blood in the toilet and panics, thinking that his daughter is severely ill when she is simply menstruating. He finds the whole event quite troubling: “All that evening it disturbed me, how the shedding of so much blood was a routine thing for my daughter, and what kind of thickness did she have to grow around her, what kind of tough elephant rind and callousness, to accept with perfect casualness a bowl brimming with red blood?” Not only do I love the image and the alliteration of “a bowl brimming with red blood,” but I think this scene in particular highlights the heart of the narrative: Andrew’s desperate confusion about his daughter’s identity and his desire to understand her.

Our relationships that we have with our parents can be complicated, and “Homeostasis” captures that confusion and complexity well. The connections that we form with other people, whether they be the physical transfer of organs or the emotional bond of paternal love, are what drive our lives in new and interesting directions. “Homeostasis” was a heart-wrenching, fascinating piece that made me consider a very important fact—that the connections we form with others define our lives.

—Megan Murphy, Assistant Editor

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Let Your Ribs Dance: Reflecting on “Their Dance” by William Virgil Davis

A few summers ago, I remember thinking a great deal about the seasons. The weather that year in Ohio had been particularly fickle, with cold temperatures well into late April and cool summer months. However, I have found that no matter what the weather has been like in the past, there is something wonderfully freeing about the warmer months that are yet to come this year. In spring and summer, I feel like I can breathe again. A poem called “Their Dance” by William Virgil Davis, which appears in Artful Dodge 26/27, speaks to this idea of renewal.

In the poem, Davis describes people who are literally stripped down to the bone, their “skin peeling off like old wallpaper.” The “old wallpaper” line reminds me of rebirth, stepping out of something cold and crackling and uncomfortable into a new beginning. Davis goes further with the image, describing how the bones “lift themselves to dance.” The image of ribs dancing reminds me to celebrate life, that in spring and summer, when the cold finally ends, I’ll feel like my chest can fully expand. Even nature seems to dance more often in the warmer months: flowers blowing in the breeze, trees gaining their leaves, water sparkling in the sun. People seem to dance more often too, diving into the water, spinning to live music on city street sidewalks. The final two lines of the poem capture the restless movement of spring well: “they never want to lie down again.” Summer nights have stripped me down to that primal feeling. Sometimes, standing in an empty street, alone against the darkness, I suddenly become hyper-aware of my own breathing. My breath and my pounding heart become my sole focus. It is an invigorating, empowering feeling.

The next time you are overwhelmed, I would encourage you to focus on the “dance” that Davis is describing in this poem—focus on the rise and fall of your ribs as you breathe. Hopefully, you’ll find that you “never want to lie down again.”

 

— Megan Murphy, Assistant Editor

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The Right to Write: Reflecting on “Kit Carson and the Long Walk”

Something that I have always struggled with as a writer is what our editor-in-chief, Daniel Bourne, calls “the right to write.” As a writer, what are my responsibilities? As a white woman living in America today, do I have the right to write stories featuring people of color? Do I have the right to tell stories dealing with oppression that I have not experienced? How should I address questions of complex history and write about people who I can never interview? Are there limits to the stories I can tell? Do I have a moral obligation to not write about certain topics? A collection of work found in Artful Dodge 52/53 confronts these questions head-on.

“Kit Carson and the Long Walk” is a collection of poems by Lavonne J. Adams that explore the life of Kit Carson through his accomplishments, his failures, and his interactions with the Navajo Tribe. What struck me most about her collection was how Adams carefully handled the sensitive subject of “the right to write.” She conducted extensive research on Carson and the topics on which she was writing, fictionalizing certain characters to make points about history. Ultimately, these poems paint a complex portrait of history, displaying both the love that this man had for his children and the bloody consequences of his treatment of the Navajo people, the “decimation” of their land. History is never simple, and in her poems, Adams clearly chooses each word with care, determined to provide multiple perspectives on the complicated figure of Kit Carson. From her poems celebrating the culture of the Navajo people (“Artifact: Arrow”) to the works that condemn the violence of Carson and neighboring Native American Tribes (“(Invisible) Relics: Spirits of Stolen Children”) to “Reckoning,” the final poem in the sequence, which explores Carson’s death, Adams portrays her subject matter with raw honesty and emotion. She says in her introduction, “…since I bear no Navajo blood, a certain amount of authorial distance for these poems seemed both necessary and respectful…I’m keenly aware that the Navajo story is filtered by my vision, recast through my own artistic sensibilities. Yet we are all pulled forward by the ghosts that haunt our lives. I am a poet, not a historian.”

Adams confronts the question of her “right to write” beautifully here by acknowledging that these are not strictly her stories to tell but explaining that she wanted to come to understand them through poetry. She quotes Natasha Sajé, who wrote that “…poetry itself is an exercise in othering, in trying to understand something or someone foreign from oneself.” In these poems, Adams is trying to understand Kit Carson and the Navajo people, and she does so through the power of her poems, which are taut with emotion and compel the reader to think more deeply about the history behind her words.

I still struggle with the question of the “right to write,” but I think Lavonne Adams’ collection of work is an excellent example of how one can tell a story that they find interesting and important while still acknowledging their own position of power as an outsider and an author. Ultimately, we read and we write to better understand the world. As long as we research and write carefully, as Adams has done here, I do not think we should hesitate in sharing stories that matter to us.

 

—Megan Murphy, Assistant Editor

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The Legacy of The Dodge: Reflecting on Artful Dodge Vol 2. No. 1

The Artful Dodge is nearly 40 years old. For those of you who may not know, Artful Dodge was founded by our editor-in-chief, Daniel Bourne, in 1979 and has been publishing issues ever since. As someone who has only been working on the Dodge for a few years, that legacy astounds me. This magazine, filled with the work of emerging and well-known writers alike, has been publishing national and international poetry, fiction, art, and translation for longer than I have existed on this Earth. That is incredible.

Two summers ago, I stumbled upon some of our oldest back issues of the Dodge and decided to read them. I started with Artful Dodge Vol. 2 No. 1, which was released in the Dodge’s second year. As much as I enjoyed the stories and the artwork featured within the magazine (I highly recommend reading “Crystal” by Mary Anne Caine), I found myself increasingly having to pause and marvel at what I held in my hands. The copy I read was still in great shape, though the pages had yellowed a bit with age. As an assistant editor, I know the great amount of work it takes to produce copies of the Dodge for our readers now; I cannot imagine how much time and effort went into creating and crafting the magazine in its early days. I feel so lucky to have the privilege and opportunity to work on such an established literary magazine. Do any of our blog readers remember Artful Dodge in its early days? Let me know in the comments!

 

—Megan Murphy, Assistant Editor

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Checking Time

According to the internet, people spend about 30 minutes a day searching for lost things. Add that up over time, and you’ll end up spending three and a half hours a week, one week a year, and a little over one year of your life muttering with confusion and rifling through drawers. Knowing that these actions will interfere with the nine years of my life I’m going spend on the internet, I was perplexed upon finding a check that had been lost for eight years among the peripheral clutter of envelopes and papers slowly taking over the Artful Dodge office. How many hours in someone’s life were spent searching for this check? Of course, the blame cannot be placed entirely upon the Dodge. The check was supposed to travel from Texas to Ohio, but it was mistakenly addressed to Nimrod Journal in Oklahoma, where it would wait patiently for six years. Someone probably opened the envelope, pulled out the check, and saw that it was addressed to a different literary magazine. “How interesting,” they said. “I think I will do something about this later.” Then, since people spend about four years of their life procrastinating, “later” turned out to be “much later.” Whatever circumstances led to the loss of the check, it was eventually found and sent to the Dodge with the note:

This check came up in our office at Nimrod—we thought maybe it had accompanied a contest entry, but we didn’t see any entries by any of your editors… Let me know if there was something else intended for this. Thanks! 😊

It seems that whatever happened at Nimrod also happened here. The check arrived in all its glory, and in return, it was flattened with rejections and withdrawals for two more years. Now, this piece of paper has lived long past its six-month expiration date; it will never be redeemed. It’s likely that it will be sent back to Texas and sacrificed to a shredder, whose glittering teeth will tear it into ribbons. If recycled, it could become another check, and another, and another, until it has been lost and found too many times to count, until hours spent searching become days and days become weeks. Always, the clock is ticking.

—Holly Engel, Assistant Editor

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