letter from the editor
I asked issue cover artist Kathy Bruce to talk a bit about her evocative collage, Were They Painted & Veiled? Kathy shared a quote from painter Francis Bacon. Bacon said an artist's job is to "deepen the mystery." Deepen the mystery. I love this. (And to an extra dose of magic, I will always say yes, plz.)
For me—and maybe Francis Bacon as well, given his distinctive aesthetic—there is no more exciting mystery than an existential exploration, one that considers the curiousness of the human condition. Kurt Vonnegut observed that all great literature is about what "a bummer" it is to be human. Aldous Huxley called it unavoidable sorrow, which inherently comes with being alive and aware. Kevin Clouther, The Howler Project's first Storyteller Spotlight, referenced a favorite poet, Larry Levis, and Levis's more specific articulation: the meaning of life is that it stops.
Indeed, one appeal of stories is that they do not stop. The especially human ones linger, holding infinite possibilities for new mysteries. Perhaps that is one thing these 15 pieces have in common—they're like living windows, continuously shifting what's seen and unseen:
The way Ruby Marguerite somehow makes the heartbreak inescapable without mentioning it in "The Ritual of Killing the Crab," or how we're left bereft after an encounter we didn't witness in Laine Derr's "Buttons I Keep." Similarly, we become invested in the subject of Sandra Kolankiewicz's ode, "She Wolfs," without ever meeting her. Lisa Piazza's main character in "Trickle Back, Sad Sack" says her "half-here, half-there heart" can disappear at any moment yet embraces multiple lives. Ners Neonlumberjack celebrates more literal rebirth by painting on bones of unknown origin in Whose Bones Are These?
None of the people captured in Elizabeth Rose Wilson's photography face each other but are clearly linked by their Waiting for the elusive Her. LindaAnn LoSchiavo's descriptive writing in "Boardwalk Soda Fountain Shop" creates worlds within worlds, all dripping with waiting and longing. Donald Patten relies on the imagination as a "way to cope" in Master Paintings in Covid Times. The tiny, separated arms reaching out in Almost Smothered by Janina Aza Karpinska are almost missed, seemingly both a plea and a resignation.
And the way a small refrain can tell its own story: Cat Dixon's cry, "Let me fly! Let me fly!" to Lillian Lippold's masterful repetition of "Oxnard," at once a lament and a hope, and Favorite Storyteller Sharmila Seyyid's unflinching "I will live."
Yes, "Till the last millisecond, I will live."
Dear reader, it is my absolute pleasure to introduce the second issue of Hymn & Howl, Seen/Unseen. May you discover your own beautiful mysteries along the way.
hymn & howl issue 2: seen/unseen
New stories from Laine Derr, LinaAnn LoSchiavo, Lillian Lippold, Cat Dixon, Kathy Bruce, Lisa Piazza, Ners Neonlumberjack, Ruby Marguerite, Donald Patten, Sandra Kolankiewicz, Elizabeth Rose Wilson, and Janina Aza Karpinska, and featuring work from writer and activist Sharmila Seyyid.