Welcome to our Spring 2019 issue, Passing, and our fifth publication as a journal. As many students know, or reluctantly became aware of, spring semester is brisk, immediate, and gone—a chapter of our lives that feels nowhere near 15 weeks. Seasons transition from winter to spring to summer within that interval, and it is often difficult to recognize our own accomplishments when the balky soup of time-management is interrupted by spring break and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference at the end of March. April becomes a month of picking up where we left off, and May arrives like an uninvited guest. May 6th, the date of this publication, marks the last week of classes before finals week; it is the end of the semester and for some, our time as graduate students.
The theme of our issue, Passing, wasn’t chosen to illustrate a partiality for metaphor in regards to the short semester. When agreeing on a theme for any issue, the Anastamos staff deliberates between words that avoid circumspection as well as ambiguity—words that also aren’t entirely outrageous. For example, if we decided to call an issue “Bread,” although the subject would be a memorable experiment and grounds for humor among the staff, such a theme might imply a request for submissions exploring food or money. As noted in our query for the past submission cycle: passing as, passing off, passing through, passing on, passing up, passing out, passing away—covers considerable ground. In fact, the name of our journal, Anastamos, is derived from the medical term, anastomosis, which refers to two things that normally do not converge (a kind of passing between)—a moniker designed to embody the vision of our journal as an interdisciplinary publication rather than strictly literary.
However, there was little surprise when our editors opened submissions and were confronted with a number of death pieces. Death and art are not strangers. Death is a muse, a mystery. It shapes how we go about our lives. Art follows. Art anticipates it. Although plentiful, explorations of loved ones lost weren’t the only works we received, and I am pleased to announce this issue hosts a number of creative and scholarly endeavors.
Readers are promised ghosts—not the typical phantoms dressed in white sheets—but ghosts that manifest in surprising ways; such as those encountered in Kathleen de Azavedo’s “Have You Seen Me?” and Douglas Cole’s “The Wounded Disappear.” In “The Defamiliarization of Trauma in W.B. Sebald’s Austerlitz,” readers will follow scholar Geoff Watkinson’s exploration of W.G. Sebald’s novel Austerlitz (2001), as protagonist, Jacques Austerlitz, struggles to address childhood trauma in post-WWII Europe. Eat psychedelic mushrooms in New York City with a stranger in Shannon McGarvey’s nonfiction piece, “Raymond.” Travel to Khartoum, Sudan and meet author, Mohammed Modibo Shareef’s grandfather in, “My Grandpa Can’t Read.” Explore grief in Christina Robertson’s “Death Casserole” and Eileen Vorbach Collins’ “The Burden of Perspicacity.” Also, be sure not to overlook the striking visual art submitted from artists: Andrea Walls, Ann Calandro, Silas Plum, Courtney L. Hall, and Marcie Jan Bronstein.
If I could blurb every contributor to the issue in this letter I would. The passage of time, identity, and place are major themes in the works that follow. I hope readers enjoy this issue as much as the editorial staff and I have curating it this semester.
Kevin J. Brown, Editor-in-Chief