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LEIGH ANN HENION
If you’d passed the Cold Mountain Review office as I was reviewing submissions over the last few months—gratefully aided by Joseph Bathanti, Hilda Downer, and the CMR staff—you might have seen me laughing, wincing, gasping, and pondering philosophical notions within the space of an hour. I wasn’t feeling moody; I was opening envelope after envelope, quite often discovering emotionally transporting tales within.
As I read Glen Retif’s work of creative nonfiction, “Saudade,” I was rattled by deception. In reviewing John Blair’s short story “Islands in the Moon,” I marveled at the way chance encounters can lead to personal epiphanies. And when turning to the poetry that forms the heart of CMR I suddenly found myself—like the bird in the poem, “A True Story,” by Fredrick Smock—with plenty of open space to use my imagination. Each submission was a unique literary experience, an absolute gift.
With this issue, CMR unveils a physical transformation, one which signals a larger, interior change. CMR remains dedicated to presenting fine poetry, but it has widened and blurred its borders by embracing short stories and works of creative nonfiction. Based on the scope and merit of the submissions received in these genres, it is clear that prose writers were hungry for a new venue. It has been CMR’s great honor to receive their work.
I’m pleased to be the new Editor of CMR, and I would like to dedicate my inaugural issue to every writer who summoned the bravery to submit their essays, poems, memoirs, and stories over the past six months—not just those who sent their work to CMR, but those who submitted creative work anywhere at all. I recognize that writing and publishing require a great deal of perseverance. So, to the writers among you, I would like to say thank you for your resolve. Your work is important, and it is appreciated.
Additionally, I would like to extend my gratitude to Richard Rapfogel, who has provided the image for the current CMR cover. I am also grateful to photojournalist Caroline Bennett for her photographs of daily life in a Mexican penitentiary where children live with their incarcerated mothers. Her photo essay, “Born Behind Bars,” is a testament to the power of visual storytelling.
Images and words often have the power to inspire. I recently attended a reading by a former CMR contributor, Ron Rash. After presenting work from his recently published novel, Serena, Rash mused about what moved him to become a writer. He explained his grandfather read picture books to him as a child and he was fascinated by the way the stories changed over time. Rash ultimately recognized that his illiterate grandfather wasn’t actually following what was written on the books’ pages. Rash recalled, “He was making up stories as he went along. When I realized this, I started feeling like there were words just floating around in the air. It made them seem magical.”
I believe storytelling in its various forms is, indeed, magical. Like Rash in his boyhood, I can almost envision words hovering around me every day like butterflies riding air currents. The writer’s impulse is to pluck those lovely, fragile beings from the breeze to arrange them in a meaningful way before sending them back out into the world in creative formation. The publication of this issue is the moment of release for these precious works, these particular words. I hope you’ll join me in marveling at their beauty as they fly off the pages of CMR and into your open minds. Thanks for reading.
Table of Contents
The Azalea Queen of Albemarle County
Report to the Committee
In Any Given Moment, There Is Only One Thing Happening, Which Is Everything
FEDERICO GARCÍA LORCA
translated by THOMAS FEENEY
Moon over Karasuma Street
A True Story
The Death of Mathematicians
The Yard (Santa Martha Acatitla prison, Mexico D.F)
My Turn (Santa Martha Acatitla prison, Mexico D.F)
Cellblock H (Santa Martha Acatitla prison, Mexico D.F)
Carlitos, 6 Months (Santa Martha Acatitla prison, Mexico D.F)
This Home Has Concrete Walls (Santa Martha Acatitla prison, Mexico D.F)
Young Cellmate (Santa Martha Acatitla prison, Mexico D.F)
Beyond Bars (Santa Martha Acatitla prison, Mexico D.F)
Waiting (Santa Martha Acatitla prison, Mexico D.F)
Outside My Sister’s Window
Awaiting Further Instruction
JOHN PAUL O’CONNOR
Gautier Wisely Believed
I Give You this Day My Crown of Thorns and Claim My Resurrection
Driving Down this Old Road
Leaving Santa Fe
The Sound of Music
Reporter After a Twister
Vietnam Narratives: Psywar
Vietnam Narratives: Calling Cad
Vietnam Narratives: Interrogation
Vietnam Narratives: Coda
Down the Stones
Island in the Moon