We Want Your Writing.
Dear Fellow Readers & Writers,
Lately, I’ve been obsessed with sieges. A single line in Appian’s history of the Third Punic War sparked my fixation. Concluding a three-year siege, the victorious Romans decided — “in the interest of a lasting concord” — to obliterate the surrendered city of Carthage. When this news was delivered to the Carthaginians, Appian describes scenes of “raving madness” unfolding across the doomed city’s streets. Senators and ambassadors to the Romans were stoned and torn “in pieces.” Immigrants from the Italian peninsula were attacked. Some citizens sought refuge in “temples as asylums.” Some went to the city’s empty arsenals and “wept.” This was the line that grabbed me: “The few who remained sane closed the gates, and brought stones upon the walls to be used in place of catapults.”
Why sieges, though? And why that simple line? This year I have felt particularly that we — as individuals, as citizens, as humans — are besieged. Every person I know, in one way or another, is besieged. We face a pandemic and lengthy quarantines, xenophobia, racism and police violence, economic insecurity, increased domestic assault incidence, and political indifference: our uncertain future. So, I keep thinking about those few Carthaginians who remained “sane,” finding solace in service and the completion of a humble task. Today, we call this psychological resilience.
Each essay, story, and poem in Issue 6.2 is a stone in our arsenal. These stones are truth, empathy, hope, and a fair amount of mettle. Writers who carry these stones are heroic. Like Honora Ankong, Kay Ulanday Barrett, Kelli Russell Agodon, Neha Mulay, and Alexander Liang, they write about bearing loss, eating grief, and shouldering on. Like Jasmine Ledesma, Ryan Mooney, Evan James Sheldon, Elia Hohauser-Thatcher, Jennifer Grant, and Daniel Kessel, their words are an accounting of human resilience. Like John Belk, Lacey N. Dunham, Matt Kingcroft, Kristen Lindquist, and Richard Foerster, they prove that nothing is too small to deserve our notice and compassion. Like all the writers in Issue 6.2 and our weekly Embody feature, they carry the happy burden of being alive today.
Much like Dimitri Shostakovich during the siege of Leningrad, these artists find composure in chaos and dedicate what is left of themselves to this sane and painful and necessary task: bearing witness. We at The Maine Review admire the resilience of artists who continue to create under desperate circumstances and dare to share their creations with others. Their work reminds us that writing is resisting. Reading is resisting, too.
We wish you all good health and happiness.
Rosanna Gargiulo, Editor