When we decided to co-edit an issue of MAYDAY Magazine dedicated to nonfiction, we knew we wanted to see as wide a range as possible. We were particularly interested in work that pushes or blurs the boundaries of what we commonly think of as nonfiction: scholarly articles that contain an element of the travel essay or memoir, nonfiction in translation, and photo-essays are just a few examples of what we hoped to receive.
We had also noticed that literary journals generally separate prose into fiction and nonfiction, yet poetry is not, for whatever reasons, distinguished along these lines. We therefore made a call for poetry that is self-consciously nonfictional in nature, such as memoir-in-verse, historical poetry, polemical poetry, and so forth.
We thought about letters, and we have several letters among the accepted pieces. We thought about different ways histories could be captured, and different ways stories could be told, and decided we did not want to limit the issue to accepted forms. We wanted as wide a range of nonfiction as possible, to expand the genre if we could, work that pushed and blended the boundaries of what we classify as nonfiction. We sent out a call for book reviews, interviews, lyric essays, memoir, reportage, scholarly articles, and travel writing, for poetry as nonfiction, and as the submissions came in and we began reading, we looked for work that captured those qualities we believe all good nonfiction should contain.
What we got was this issue. We have nonfiction poetry such as Melissa King Rogers’ “Mockingbird,” a poem about the beauty and sadness of teaching and literature, and Joseph Mills’ “The Neighbors Talk About Our Adoption,” which suggests that perhaps we don’t understand those who live nearest us. We have the lyric essay, like Hannah Dela Cruz Abrams’ “Letter to Laurena” which explores the great divide between geographical places and the past, and we have personal stories of a grandfather’s life, a rafting down a river, the stillness in the aftermath of a storm. We have included reviews and interviews, letters of longing and letters to people long dead, and historical writing about places that have since vanished.
The pieces in this issue all contain an inner and an outer story, what happens on the surface versus what happens underneath. They all contain that current cutting through. They are landscape and longing. They are hybrid and hope. They are personal and informative and moving, and we hope they will move you as much as they moved us. We hope they will help make sense of an increasingly difficult world that we often don’t understand, and to find comfort in the written word.