I’ve been having more stress dreams than usual. Dreams of inadequacy and failure and loss. I’ve felt death in my bones—the same subcutaneous, amorphous fatigue I’ve felt before two of my close relatives died. I’ve been calling people I haven’t been in touch with in months to see if they’re still alive. They are. I’ve visited my therapist, I’ve journaled and I’ve talked to loved ones to try and unearth this intuitive dread, and yet it still lingers and for the life of me I can’t identify where this is stemming from.
As I looked through the winter issue to write this letter, multiple themes stood out to me, and yet all of them seem to be part of a cohesive larger theme: Reassessment of self.
Our cover by Sofie Birkin showcases indulgence and reinvisioned mythology. When discussing her cover in the Suspect Press office she said of playing with classic imagery, “Why not queer it up a bit?” Allow us to see more of ourselves in history. Societal norms are ever-shifting but, as Noah Van Sciver’s comic highlights, loss and fear and struggles follow us wherever we go. No matter your age or innocence, illness can overcome you (see Amy Yang’s illustration “Sick Sad Kids” on p. 11). Nor can we escape the age-old tropes of deception and violence, as exhibited in Cleon Peterson’s stunning centerfold piece “The End of Days.”
If I haven’t depressed the fuck out of you yet, give Jack Orleans’ piece “The Orchid” a read to see how ever-so-subtly people in authority can misuse their positions of power. Or take a look at Karl Christian Krumpholz’s illustration “Agoraphobia” for a depiction of desolation and loneliness. However, on the flip side, maybe we could all use a little more solitude—a little more getting-away-from-it-all. For how can we see how we might be hurting others, or hurting ourselves, unless we spend time alone to assess our words and behaviors? Are we treating ourselves and others with kindness and fairness? Josiah Hesse reflects on this in his essay comparing the unlikely similarities between Henry Rollins and Morrissey, owning his previously-held hypocritical prejudice.
In Lonnie Allen’s comic about icon Grace Jones, we see the power of believing in yourself against all odds and the beauty that arises from self-transformation. And in Adrian H Molina’s poem “Winter, An Epilogue” we get an uplifting message of hope and progress despite personal storms.
As you read through the issue, see if you can apply this theme to the other pieces. And send us a note on your thoughts if you like. As for me, I’ll be here, listening to Radiohead’s “How To Disappear Completely” until the weight lifts.
By Amanda E.K.
Editor In Chief
Amanda is a short fiction and freelance writer, and a member of the Knife Brothers writing group – a small collective of short fiction writers. Her work has been featured on the Denver Orbit podcast and on Mortified Live. She has stories in Suspect Press, Birdy, Jersey Devil Press, and the Punch Drunk Press Poetry anthology. She’s currently working on a diary memoir about the damaging effects of growing up in evangelical purity culture – available late 2019 through Suspect Press.