At the beginning of August, Drizzle celebrated its first birthday — one year of reading, of writing, of cultivating this beautiful community of people with a passion for witnessing and promoting books that reflect the widest possible scope of human experience.
It has been a difficult year. We witnessed the election of a man who systematically rejects the needs of minority populations in our country. We fought tooth and nail against our own representatives for the basic right to stay alive and healthy. Just this week, we watched a car plow into counter-protesters at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., killing an innocent woman. At times, for all of us, it has been difficult just to stay afloat.
Many of us, in the last twelve months, have felt lost, guilty, powerless, alone. I have felt this way. I spent the majority of the last six months preparing to begin a graduate degree in creative writing, and I asked myself over and over again what good poetry can do in a world where some people in this country can’t walk down the street without fear of getting shot or harassed by the very people who are employed to protect them.
The truth is, we can’t save this world with literature alone. Literature won’t stop young, white men in Virginia from waving swastikas. It won’t protect black men on the streets in Baltimore, Ferguson, New York, Atlanta. I don’t believe that we can sit behind piles of books and pray that the right stories will be heard by those that need to hear them — and I say that as someone whose deepest urge has always been to do exactly this. Stepping out into the world is difficult work. Fighting for those who can’t fight for themselves is difficult work. For some people, it looks like taking to the streets, and for other people it looks like donating socks to a homeless shelter. For some people, this work is impossible. That is another truth I’ve learned this year: that we can only offer what we have to give.
So, what good can poetry do? What good can literature do? This isn’t a resignation notice, though for a minute there it read like one. I think of Maggie Smith’s poem “Good Bones,” which swept the nation earlier this year with the kind of ferocity only seen in times of great distress. Perhaps the most beautiful thing literature can do in these moments of violence and fear is remind us that we are all scared, and for so many reasons. It can be an escape, because we do and will continue to need those in the years to come. It can ask questions of us, and help us better ask questions of others.
We tell stories for so many reasons; to understand the world as it is and to reinvent it, because we know the truth and because we don’t know anything at all. I don’t think we can save the world with literature alone, but I do think we can save the world with what books can and will continue to teach us. By reading, we learn how to listen. As I scroll through the archives of Drizzle’s first year, I am reminded of all the beautiful, difficult, complicated stories we tell each other. This year, I will take that knowledge and my own action as a stepping stone toward making this world better. I hope you’ll find the space and the energy to join me.
Rebecca Valley, Editor-in-Chief
- To celebrate our first year, we have added three new staff members. Read about our new Contributing Editors here, and look for their work in the coming months.
- Our second special issue, which will launch in the winter of 2018, will explore writing from rural America. You can submit your reviews for consideration, or suggest books for our staff, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Last month, we launched our interview series with a conversation with young adult author Maryrose Wood. If you are interested in being interviewed by our staff, please get in touch through our contact form.
- As always, we are looking for new voices. Learn more about how to submit your interviews, essays, and reviews here.