This is not the letter I thought I’d be writing.
We all know nothing lasts forever—especially not in 2020—and we at Suspect Press have made the decision, after 7 years strong, to go another direction. This is the last issue you’ll hold of this version of the magazine before we go into hiatus. Then, when the time is right, our art director Lonnie MF Allen will introduce you to a new draft of Suspect.
Suspect Press has been a Denver staple for a respectable amount of time, and now it’s your turn to fill in the gaps within the arts community.
Despite the fact that most of this issue was curated before the pandemic hit, its content seems to have known what kind of world it would be released into. These pages are spilling over with the whimsical and the surreal, the painful and the determined, and an overwhelming expression of resilience. This issue is here to say that the new normal is a hybrid, a chimera of human experience.
Though we don’t assign themes to our quarterly issues, it never fails that an unplanned theme emerges. In this issue, each artist blends the human form with a non-human form. Cover artist Kaitlin Ziesmer fuses together human and animal, Daniel Semanas joins human and desert, Nikoli Shaver interlocks man with plant life, Jaime Valderrama welds the body with galactic technology, Ramon Aguirre combines body with monster, and Gary Breckheimer collides woman with city.
Our contributing writers deconstruct and challenge what it means for people to feel whole and functioning. Ian Cumings’s short fiction piece, “A Good Mother,” is one of the most Suspect submissions I’ve received during my years as editor. The story is racy, questionable, and brutally honest, as is our unsent-style letter from Brittany Ballard to her mom, which helped her initiate conversations she’s been hoping to have for several years.
As always, our poetry editor Brice Maiurro knits together a vibrant tapestry of voices who refuse to be silent. Poems by M. McDonough, K. Quinn Marchman, and Punch Drunk Press editor Sarah Rodriguez remind us that there’s always another side to the story—another perspective we can learn from to better understand and empathize with our neighbors.
Art alone may not be able to sustain us, but it does help us keep going, even if for just one more day, one more hour. It’s okay if you’re not okay right now. It’s okay if you’re not producing or achieving. And it’s okay if you cry all day in bed listening to The Cure’s Disintegration on repeat (or whatever your equivalent may be).
We hope that the letters, stories, and visual art we’ve curated for you will offer some respite and inspiration. If somebody’s work stands out to you, shoot them a message. A little gratitude goes a long way.
I can’t wait to see what comes next.
Amanda is the editor-in-chief of Suspect Press, a writing instructor and a longstanding member of the Knife Brothers writing group. Her work has been featured on the Low Orbit podcast and on Mortified Live. She has stories in Suspect Press, Birdy, Jersey Devil Press, the Punch Drunk Press Poetry anthology, and Green Briar Review. She’s currently pitching a memoir about her sexual development while growing up in evangelical purity culture, and working on projects for film and TV. Follow her on instagram @amanda.ek.writer