We Want Your Writing.
Dear Fellow Readers and Writers,
In 1906, Okakura Kakuzo published a slim volume called The Book of Tea. Kakuzo wrote in English, as he intended his book—discussing chadō, Taoism and Zen, flowers, and art appreciation—to reach Western readers. His central desire was to shift what he thought was a mutual and pervasive disdain for culturally foreign artwork to a thoughtful, respectful appreciation for mastery of craft. He wrote:
“The sympathetic communion of minds necessary for art appreciation must be based on mutual concession. The spectator must cultivate the proper attitude for receiving the message, as the artist must know how to impart it…Nothing is more hallowing than the union of kindred spirits in art.”
Over the past four months, The Maine Review team considered hundreds of submissions for Issue 7.2. In the work of Carmelinda Scian, Amin Ahmad, Rachel Rueckert, and Laci Mosier, we encountered hearts and minds wrestling with family and intimate relations. We read Neeru Nagarajan, Remi Skytterstad, and Samuel A. Adeyemi, considering the importance of place and how where we are affects who we are. And we read Jeff Thomson, Rebecca Faulkner, and Marijean Oldham, reflecting on the past and working to make meaning out of experiences. The artists knew how to impart their message, and we felt that “union of kindred spirits” of which Kakuzo wrote more than a century ago.
Lately, it has occurred to me that, in the context of the communal work project that is a literary journal, “mutual concession” might only be the first step in appreciating one another’s art. In A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster, Rebecca Solnit goes further, describing this reciprocal process as a form of mutual aid. She writes: “Giving is itself the gift, and there can be a deep mutuality between giver and recipient in the horizontality of altruism rather than the hierarchy of charity. More complex exchanges take place in the arts: is it the writer or singer who is giving the work, or the reader or listener who brings the gift of attention…?”
In this letter, I’d like to highlight the gift this community of readers and writers has given each other. Kakuzo wrote that “The art of to-day is that which really belongs to us: it is our own reflection.” At The Maine Review, fifty-four readers and editors (all writers themselves) gave the gift of their attention and received the gift of connection with our contemporaries, both those we were able to publish and those whose work we cherished in private. We saw ourselves in others and saw others in ourselves. Reading Issue 7.2, our new author interview series, Radicle: The Roots of Writers, and Lu Chekowski’s Embody feature, we feel certain you will experience that hallowedness too.
We at The Maine Review wish you good health and happiness in 2021 and beyond.
Rosanna Gargiulo, Editor