It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
of what is found there.
—William Carlos Williams, “Asphodel, That Greeny Flower”
I remember the first novel I ever read. I was seven years old and at the beginning of the second grade. The book was one of Robert Heinlein’s novels for young readers; it was set on Mars. I started second grade during the fall of 1968, so this was right around the time the Apollo 7 launch reignited the moon race, which culminated with the Apollo 11 mission the following year.
I’m lying a little when I say that I remember the Heinlein novel, because both its title and its contents have long eluded me. I can still see it, though, still feel it in my hands—a glossy little hardcover with no dust jacket, designed more to resemble a volume for adults than one for kids.
I can also still see myself as I read it early on a Saturday morning, on the tail end of a sleepover, one of (it must have been) my earliest. Or maybe I shouldn’t say see but rather recognize, for this is the sort of moment that has repeated itself endlessly throughout my life. A quiet morning (or afternoon or evening), a compelling narrative, the desire to connect while also disconnecting, to sit in the amorphous space between distance and intimacy where literature lives.
What I mean is: I have read and written my passage through this world. Especially now, at a time when we’re so broken, so disunited, when the virtues of human decency and opportunity and honesty are once again imperiled, there is nothing that feels more necessary than to experience one another through our words.
I’d be lying once more, I suppose, were I to say this was the genesis of Air/Light. But then again, I’d be lying were I to say that it was not. The journal you’re now reading, after all, is dedicated to the notion that the more words, the more stories and poems and essays, the more points-of-view and experiences and perspectives that represent themselves, the better off we all will be.
At Air/Light, we like literature that takes the gloves off. We like literature that means what it says. And we like literature that plays a little fast and loose with expectations, with tradition and with hierarchy, that blurs the boundaries not only between genres but also between forms.
As a result, what you’ll find in our first issue, both now and over the course of the fall, are voices: a variety of work in a variety of forms and media, all of it committed and engaged. You’ll find private narratives and public narratives, although, as they ever have, these can’t help but overlap. You’ll find voices that speak to, or out of, our current predicament, that speak with the sense that we are living at the end of something, and perhaps at the beginning of something else.
Most of all, you’ll find voices that matter, that are insistent, that say what needs to be said. Think of the journal, then, as a chorus.
Or, maybe, as a gathering place.
It’s been a long process putting Air/Light together: a collaboration in every sense of the word. We are delighted to share with you these voices, and everything they have to say.
We look forward to the conversation that we will have together: the ongoing human one about who and where we are.
So, welcome. We’re grateful you have joined us. We are glad you’re here.