Welcome to Melic XXII

Although we have been a quarterly, I’m afraid this year we’ll have to settle for that oxymoron almost unique to literary journals: triquarterly. Our 5th anniversary edition took a lot out of us and this one turned out to be a whopper as well. In sheer words it exceeds the double anniversary issue.

We’ll resume publication sometime in early 2004. All submissions received after September 10, 2003, are still in consideration for Melic XXIII. We will not meet our usual three-month response time and request patience from those who have already submitted.

Submissions are still open.

The main reason this issue is late is that I knew my essay on “The Waste Land” would not be ready by September 1, and the other editors preferred to wait for it. Since finishing it I have been on vacation in my old stomping grounds of Northern California, fishing and hiking, trying to experience the wordless world of natural wonder, although lines from many poems, particularly Eliot’s, continue to float through my head like dust motes in a light beam.

Writing about “The Waste Land” taxed me to the limit. In trying to describe the poem I am reminded of my days as a doctor, when in dumping difficult cases on other doctors we never failed to call them “interesting” (just as at sushi bars, things round-eyed people shouldn’t eat are called “challenging”).

Jim Zola has shown a penchant for longer poems in his first full turn at the wheel as arbiter of Melic’s verse. Again, in sheer volume, I don’t think we’ve ever had so much poetry. How much work this required of Jim, and Mark in formatting, I can only imagine.

Our fiction editor this cycle, Mary McGrail, also chose a generous five pieces. As she and Jim have written their own notes about selections, I’ll not steal their thunder here.

As for our theme, it fits “The Waste Land” and many of Jim’s poetry selections, while Mary had no objections. Simply put, Imagination and Depersonalization combines psychiatric and literary terms to represent, rather clumsily, that process by which artists lose themselves, sometimes skating the black winds of identity loss, in order to recover themselves in a different form. It is akin to Keat’s notion of “negative capability” or Eliot’s comments on art being about “the extinction of personality.”

Before signing off, I should say a word about our poetry board, The Roundtable. The volume of posts there has dropped considerably and much disaffection been engendered by the occasional unsavory participant (whether racist, misogynist, or simply a run-of-the-mill asshole).

There is no safe place in life or art, and we cannot make The Roundtable safe, much less polite. But we will not censor our discussion boards. We think the loss of free speech, however offensive that speech may be, less damaging than any attempt to adjudicate a human process as sensitive as exposing one’s art to the scrutiny of strangers. In a world of poets Blanche Dubois might starve to death—or at least spend a few nights in a shelter. It is only the kindness of those who love poetry more than themselves that makes such forums worthwhile. Good advice not only for The Roundtable but any poetry board is to proceed with caution unless blessed with particularly thick skin.

Thine in Truth and Art,

C.E Chaffin