On Permanence • Curated by Briana Gwin
Welcome to the “On Permanence” community anthology, curated by Editor-in-Chief Briana, featuring the work of nine writers and artists. Below, you can see the original call for this anthology, which is what folks submitted their work to, as well as an editor’s note, which gives insight into the words, artwork, and pieces you will find in this anthology.
Maybe you are like me, and you’ve been thinking a lot about permanence. How the things you grew up taking for granted, or believing in their everlastingness, have vanished—or changed irreparably, unrecognizably. Maybe for you, this sense of permanence is inextricably connected to the memory of a once-nuclear family, a long-held dream, a deeply-rooted belief, or an irrefutable understanding of your rights as a citizen of this more-than-human world. Maybe “permanence” is tied to a person or object that promised to be a constant in your life even as you grew and changed. Maybe permanence echoes within the rigid constraints of a now ill-fitting label, or in something a birth certificate or diagnosis proclaimed your body, a living vessel, could or could not be (or do) as long as you lived. Or maybe your sense of permanence is tied to your understanding of the power, importance, and (im)probability of permanence itself. What happened when this notion made contact with reality for you? Did time and other factors strip away its weight? Or did you discover something else entirely—which is to say, were you brought to believe that some things truly are infinite and indefinite, can never be changed or revoked, that even what you can’t take with you from this world will remain a legacy, an energy, an uncorruptible force carried forward? If you, too, have been thinking about permanence, tell (or show) me about yourself: words or art that is permanently, impermanently, chronically, terminally, always, no longer, forever, you.
It was back in April of 2023 that I was first approached by The Seventh Wave with a proposition to help pilot the Community Anthologies program. Back then, with my limited scope, I simply jumped at the opportunity to help amplify more voices, and to do so by freely obsessing over a single word, and inviting others to do the same—to wax poetic over whatever fun and interesting theme would become the subject of my call. But it would all become so much more. With every subsequent phase of this process undergone, a new layer of sinew, muscle, and flesh was added to the skeleton of my dream. And with every new voice added to the choir of my ruminations, my vision was infused with impossibly more breadth than I alone could have ever achieved.
Among the voices presented in this anthology are an Afro-Caribbean scholar dedicated to revivifying Haitian lore; a first-generation Nevada-born witch reclaiming power from the depths of intergenerational trauma; a Seattle-based museum editor exploring how art—or sometimes the absence thereof—changes people; a Filipina/-American/Mestiza poet investigating what lives in the negative spaces of erasure; a mother-of-two and Philadelphia youth English educator interrogating the liminal space of life after loss; a synesthetically-gifted visual artist and poet-slash-novelist demystifying the unseen; a multidisciplinary artist, critic, film director, and Cape Town transplant capturing tenderness and precision both through a lens of intimately-lived experience; an award-winning West Coast sculpturist creating emotionally affective art at the nexus of tension and fragility; and a queer, nonbinary, plant-obsessed poet whose work boldly deconstructs parenthood “norms.” To the naked eye, these identities may appear disparate from one another—and yet their work (poems, hybrid pieces, essays, art, and short stories) sings in collective harmony, joined together—in community—across time and space by the evocation of a single powerful word: permanence.
I couldn’t have chosen the word “permanence” back in late-summer with even the faintest idea of all to come in just a few short months, and yet its relevance remains as timeless as time itself, a container perfectly suited to hold it all: the ebbs and flows, knowns and unknowns, and the joys and griefs of the limitless human experience. And while permanence is far from a tangible thing, I am in awe of the manifold ways in which its concept operates as a portal, a gateway, a touchstone, to the most tangible beliefs, experiences, and memories we hold. Even in the same breath as we mourn loss and change, we are presented the gift of reflecting on the everlastingness of their impact in our lives. I hope “On Permanence,” with all of its reflections, resonates with you. I hope you feel the embrace of its community, and that you are renewed by what lives and flourishes within it. More than anything, I hope the stories, words, and works of art you’ll find here will be a gift that permanently and forever changes you.
Briana Gwin, Editor-in-Chief of “On Permanence”
- All Posts
- 1: Perception Gaps
- 10: Willful Innocence
- 11: Actionable Storytelling
- 12: Before After
- 13: Rebellious Joy
- 14: Economies of Harm
- 15: Root Systems
- 16: Proximities
- 2: Labels
- 3: Who Gets to Belong?
- 4: You Are Politics
- 5: Artificial Realities
- 6: Dangerous Bodies
- 7: In Opposition
- 8: Power And
- 9: What We Lose
Part elegy, part prayer, part epistolary masterpiece—Amy Rose Lafty’s “My Father Is a Crab Nebula” is as littered with love and grief as the galaxy is replete with stars. You won’t soon find a more intimate glimpse into the cosmic transcendence of a life lost too soon—and the mourning that comes from being left behind.
Erin Langner is well into adulthood when she is suddenly overcome with nostalgia—and guilt—about her long-since-over childhood obsession with the late R&B icon Aaliyah. In her essay, “The Sound of Absence,” Langner is a reporter and poet both, investigating the psychological phenomena of cultural erasure while also penning a heart-achingly tender ode to the things we love and lose, and the things time begs us to leave behind.
The gift of Jeni Prater’s poems is their effortless ability to render the mundane a miracle, the invisible seen, and the “unconventional” a beautiful new future. As her words search for life, sifting through the complexities of biology and bureaucracy both, her readers are unwittingly captivated by the tenderness of her tireless pursuit.
Madeleine Bazil’s poems toe the line between tenderness and unabashed longing. Intimate, urgent, prismatic—yet unassumingly brief—every word is threaded together with the precision of fate, and every stanza is a carefully-crafted room within the palace of the speaker’s vivid memory.
Everywhere in Natasha Loewy’s art, the ordinary and discarded are transmogrified into affective (re)creations that toe the line between tension and fragility, levity and weight, and joy and grief. Despite a wide range of materials used, Loewy’s larger body of work boldly rejects the notion that “good” art will stand the test of time; on the contrary, many of her creations are designed not to resist, but to relent to the passage of time, as all natural things do.
In a world where writers operate within the confines of page and word limits, Sionnain Buckley is a visionary without regard for parameters. In her poem, “The Time-Space Synesthete Draws You a Picture of What You Can’t See” Buckley renders a world where time has a shape, where every word has weight, and where the experience of glimpsing through the speaker's vast, synesthetic scope will leave an indelible impression in your worldview.
Savannah Bowen’s La-Pa-La tells the story of two young siblings living in Haiti—one of whom must grapple with the mysterious disappearance of the other. As the surreal begins to eclipse the real, a beautiful unraveling takes hold, leaving readers to wonder whether love may be the only certainty in this or any universe.
In her dazzling suite of text poems, image poems, and art, Tina Lentz-McMillan designates the negative space in every page as an intimate collaborator in her story. Her speaker is an un-silenced witness: of obsession, desire, and the ache of longing—and of what (and who) lives on even in the liminal territory of erasure.
Teri Vela’s “Superstition Sonnet” invites readers to dispense with everything they think they know about the sonnet. It is not the rules of a form, but the warp and weft of intergenerational violence and prevailing softness that tethers these intricate lines together into a powerful reverse origin story.
Briana Gwin embraces multitudes as a neurodiverse, Afro-Latina hybrid creative—poet, essayist, editor, educator—and multicultural Citizen. She received a BA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College, and an MFA in Fiction and Nonfiction from The New School. Her words have appeared in Midnight & Indigo, The Seventh Wave, Guernica, and elsewhere. She currently lives with her partner, their three hairless cats, and more books and houseplants than they can count in Minneapolis, Minnesota.