For the past three years i’ve spent the majority of my time on a hillside in Vermont, looking over an apple orchard out across the Connecticut River Valley. The trees came with the property, and when we moved in, we knew next to nothing about maintaining an orchard. The learning curve has been steep, but what it comes down to is that apple trees have a few elemental requirements: sunlight, water, airflow. They need regular judicious pruning so that they don’t overreach and encroach in each other’s space. If we tend to these needs, the trees are astonishingly generous, pouring all of their energies into a bounty of fruit. Yesterday I walked down the tree rows, noting the branches that were so laden with near-ripe apples that they were almost at the breaking point. I’m counting the days until we begin to harvest in earnest: apples for the table, for the stovetop, the oven, the cider press.
I’m learning that editing poetry for a journal is a lot like being an orchardist. Poets are astonishingly creative beings and given a few basic elements— a voice, a perspective, some tools of craft—they will also bear copious fruit. Just as we have a broad range of apple varieties, from McIntoshes to Roxbury Russets to Cox’s Orange Pippins, so do I encounter a panoply of diverse poetic voices as I prune my way through the stacks of submissions. Some of the poems are lyrically sweet, others hold the bitter tannins from having endured harsh realities through the world’s changing seasons, and still others are as tart and biting as a crisp autumn day. I hope you will savor this issue’s samplings, from Jory Mickelson’s self-aware emergence in “Self- Portrait of a Boy Pretending to be a Boy” to Aïcha Martine Thiam’s urgent and enigmatic pantoum “I HAVE COME TO RESCUE YOU” to the arch social critique of Daniel Lawless’s “Poem Against the Rich.” May you be nourished and refreshed.