This month was, I confess, an accident — the kind that our turn this year to digital monthly issues is designed to invite. As we reviewed the pieces in conversation with each other, we found a lot of mothers. More than that, we found so many examples of what culture calls mothering: acts of care, gestures of comfort, so many kinds of commitment to help bodies come into being — or, to borrow poet Phoebe Giannisi’s invocation of Empedocles, to help “a soul dressed in a body” become. Simply that, wherever the verb leads.
It’s perhaps a bit too on the nose (it’s nearly Mother’s Day in the US), but conversations emerge in their own time. Our job at Guernica, we think, is to listen a little more acutely than we might elsewhere in our busy, cacophonous lives and nudge ourselves onward toward the collective vision, that political imagination, that holds so much more for all of us than the world we live in. This month, we heard a search for radical acts of care.
Rafael Frumkin journeys toward trans joys. Sara Petersen critiques motherhood as a gendered and performative act. Sena Moon writes from the intimacy of worlds mothers create for daughters. And, in a sudden turn, Chris Santiago’s poem articulates the existential force, in language as in life, of “mother.” In Apostrophe, our column for book reviews that celebrate the subjective, Aida A. Hozić writes in dialogue with Aleksander Hermon’s work on family — that collective of care (and, often, its opposite) — and in Monika Woods’s “Reading,” a committed mother’s home unspools, even as she helps her son thrive. Yoko Uema longs for safety for the puddle-splashing children of Okinawa, where the consequences of US military presence still put body and soul at risk.
Also this month, we have an extra helping of poetry for you — at Guernica, poetry is very much an offering of spiritual care — from Wayne Koestenbaum, Tuệ Sỹ, and Jesús Cos Causse. And we’re grateful for the translators featured in this issue — Lisa Hoffman-Kuroda, Kristin Dykstra, Martha Collins, Nguyen Ba Chung, and Brian Sneeden — whose commitment to helping new work reach Anglophone readers is equally a creative and political becoming.
Thank you for being here.
— Jina Moore Ngarambe for Guernica