By The Seventh Wave

We're excited to introduce 18 new voices to the TSW community.

At long last, Issue 16: Proximities is complete. As you’ll recall, we published the first half of the issue in June, a talented cohort of 15 contributors who shared poetry and stories of (among many things) diaspora, queer motherhood, generational strain, and the limits of intimacy. Today, we’re so thrilled to publish the second half of the issue, which is a powerhouse of talent, adding 18 more contributors’ voices to the mix. Read the issue in full Inside this winter edition, you’ll find contemplative essays about finding stillness amid the loss of an estranged parent; poems about the paradox of ownership, the complexities of intergenerational relationships, finding home in musical homage, plumbing the depths of mythical surrealism, and more. There are pieces that explore the limits of love across borders of identification, odes to mothers and fathers and sisters and beloveds, and hybrid works that spotlight dreamwork and self-healing. This particular cohort’s work leans deeply into a sentiment we shared in our original call for submissions: “Proximity demands that we practice the art of attention.” And what an art form is it. Our editors had these words to share about our contributors:
  • Tina Zafreen Alam’s work is a stunning representation of poetry as homage. The poems invoke J Dilla directly, while carrying a joyous, powerful musicality and rhythm that is entirely their own.” —Stuti Pachisia, poetry editor
  • “I was immediately taken by the surrealist imagery and the raw emotion of emet ezell‘s ‘I ORDER A NEW MOTHER IN THE MAIL.’ As emet’s accompanying riso piece indicates, this is poetry that you wear on your skin.” —Stuti Pachisia, poetry editor
  • Jesse Gabriel González’s poem ‘The Ad-Hoc Cartography of Nightmares’ unfolds with the sensibility of an old black and white film, scenic and beautifully Gothic. Each allusion and shared intimate fear adds complexity to the dreamscape, raising the level of anxiety and tension for the speaker in their quest to chart these overlapping nightmares. If you like horror or Greek mythology, this promises to be an enthralling and delicious read!” —Elizabeth Upshur, poetry editor
  • “In Raye Hendrix’s poems, the American South is allowed its tenderly brutal, queer, and lyrical voice. Hendrix lets complexity stand, and it is through a clear love of their home that they unravel traditions of hurt.” —Emilie Menzel, senior poetry editor
  • “In Meredith Herndon’s poem, we begin with the clear truth of loss that is to be the background shadow throughout the poem. And yet it is through the lens of loss that we are shown the warmth of sisterly routines, the livelihood of a person’s objects and habits. This poem builds slowly, tenderly, then breaks you.” —Emilie Menzel, senior poetry editor
  • Patrick Martin Holian’s long lined poem pulls the reader through scenes of tender hurt, the connections left implied as feelings of yearning. We know there is connection, we feel it, and yet—it is this masterful absence that the second half of the poem collects, carries, carries us into wanting.” —Emilie Menzel, senior poetry editor
  • M.E. Macuaga’s ‘Side Effects’ explores the unplumbable depths of grief she experienced in witnessing the slow decline—and ultimate passing—of her father. As she retraces their final moments shared with deft lyricism and precision, the past and present are rendered concurrent, honoring the multifacetedness of grief, memory, and the human experience all at once.” —Briana Gwin, senior prose editor
  • “’Cypress Manning’s work builds softness into forgotten worlds: those that have faded, disappeared entirely, or been taken away from us and each other. Their work is aliveness, reading like the whisper of a promise to a past and future self, reminding the reader that what we forget is not gone, but etched onto bone. ‘I Was a Child Disappearing Into Whatever I Touched’ emerges from the stitch of genre, beaming with possibility. Like memory, this piece is ever-forming and unforming, breathing newness with each read.” —Bretty Rawson, director of programs
  • Nick Martino’s polaroid poems respond to Solmaz Sharif’s observations on the historical violence of erasure and the erasure form. Across each series progression, Martino’s texts bloom rather than dissolve. This is erasure in reverse, the way a photograph develops, the way a relationship settles into form.” —Emilie Menzel, senior poetry editor
  • Sarah Matsui’s open, frank writing pulls you into the daily rituals of caregiving, exposing their raw emotion. I was taken by the turns at the end of her poetry, which leap out at you from the page.” —Stuti Pachisia, poetry editor
  • Erin L. McCoy’s portfolio is centered on an examination of the extinction of the great auk, a child-like and flightless sea bird. Through this portrait, McCoy shows us a masterful, precisely lyrical examination of both colonialism’s creaturely cruelty and colonialism’s cruelty toward creatures.” —Emilie Menzel, senior poetry editor
  • “In ‘One Square Inch of Silence,’ Jessica Mooney harnesses the elusive beauty of the retrospective by taking readers through a journey in which she meets her father for the first and last time after his death. As she says hello and goodbye to his ashes in the quietest place in the US, she reflects on the stigmas of mental illness, and ponders how we might construct new, empowering narratives and legacies to honor the departed—even those we never knew.” —Briana Gwin, senior prose editor
  • Taiye Ojo’s poetry is filled with new expressions and wonder. The visual imagery that Taiye draws left its mark on me, haunting me for days after I first read the poems.” —Stuti Pachisia, poetry editor
  • “What drew me to Monique Ouk’s poems is their hopefulness—despite the heaviness of topics like genocide, civil war, or losing all but one family keepsake, she has crafted undercurrents and endings that leave one held and sure in the future. I hope readers are struck by her use of sound on a craft level (Monique has a perfect ear!) and by her way of evoking kindness through the smoky fish served at family meals and the drive she has to publish and immortalize the sole remaining photo of her grandmother. These poems read like blessings, most overtly in ‘Affirmation’ as Monique’s speaker closes with espousing hope, trust, and determination for everything behind the door called tomorrow, but also in ‘Learning How to Fish Again’ as she invites us into the most intimate of spaces (dreams) to witness her evolving relationship with her father as a whole human being with dreams of his own.” —Elizabeth Upshur, poetry editor
  • “What drew me to Daad Sharfi’s poems was their use of white space, their precision, and their atmosphere (seriously, Daad does more worldbuilding in the eighteen lines of ‘ON THE IMPOSSIBILITY….’ than I have read in some novels!) This poem is both mythic and conversational as befits an origin story, yet ends with a plaintive demand that we confront where we are now with all of our drawn, manmade borders and demarcations of the very air. And ‘ANIMAL’ is a tantalizing, textured absolution of animal desire, flagrant in its word choices, and rippling across the page like the shoulder blades of a predatory cat—I cannot wait to read the collection that she graces us with in the near future.” —Elizabeth Upshur, poetry editor
  • Grace Talusan‘s ability to hold multiple truths at once—her deep love for her husband, Alonso, as well as the anti-Blackness baked into her understanding of the world—makes for an extremely nuanced, textured look at what it means to bear witness to multiple forms of racism. She does this work with an immense amount of empathy and care, never hesitating to implicate herself in the process.” —Joyce Chen, executive director
  • “By turns a lyrical meditation on vocal dysmorphia and a captivating fusion of fantasy and lived experience, Veronica Wasson’s ‘Emma,’ grips readers at every turn with its formalistic ingenuity, its unlimited tenderness, and the beautiful brashness which comes from her unhesitating vulnerability and self awareness.” —Briana Gwin, senior prose editor
  • Ellen Wiener’s artistic practice is studied, intricate, and boundless—all at once. She takes the concept of looking incredibly seriously, and uses her art to tell a story that asks the viewer to reach beyond the bounds of their known world and into the possibilities of the unknown.” —Joyce Chen, executive director


We now publish just one issue a year, open twice for submissions — once in the fall/winter and once in the spring/summer — so that we can uplift more voices within each issue while also creating a time capsule for two distinct cohorts of writers, artists, and activists. These 18 contributors submitted to our call back in May and June of this year, and have been working on their pieces with our editors over the past four months. Explore the issue by author, by genre, or by title. Read each piece more than once or save one for a rainy day; let our contributors’ words get under your skin in the best way possible. We know we’re biased when we say this, but the waves that these 18 contributors are making with their work are incredibly powerful. And if you haven’t already, be sure to get to know the incredible 15 contributors from the first half of the issue (scroll down to “Spring Edition”).

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