Max Lasky & Zuleyha Ozturk
Elyse Wanzenried opens our inaugural issue with a postscript, similar to the way Rimbaud’s Illuminations begins with “After the Flood.” In terms of rhyme scheme and stanza structure, the poem is an English sonnet, as well as a song to the self: “I yearn / to know how to soften, to bend, to find / that murmuring part of myself, to unlearn / self-doubt.” This first poem is followed by a barrage of free verse, fiction, and photography. It is not until the final poem in the issue, Glorious Piner’s “We Left School,” that we encounter another fixed form in the common meter, or ballad meter; that is, quatrains where the lines alternate between iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter, strengthened by the rhyme scheme abcb. Elyse’s “After” and Glorious’s “We Left School” do well to bookend our first issue, and to frame everything within.
In between these two poems, we encounter lyrics about the complexities of love and familial relations, as is the case in Aaron Banks’s “The Shape of Arizona.” Derek Ellis, in his poem “What I want when I confess my life is unmanageable,” offers an intense and intimate investigation of the self and the difficulties of desire. Danny Landers’s “Roger” is, at times, hilarious, and at other times, heartbreakingly lonely. In “Storm,” Chika Onyenezi explores capitalism, friendship, Nigerian politics, and the mysteries of luck and coincidence. Joanna Omestad’s “Resisting Female Contingency” and Alexandra Davies’s “Respingada” stand equally strong as pillars of feminist thought as it relates to both art and daily life. On every page of this issue, quality is the distinguishing feature. And yes, the writers and photographers featured here are emerging, in the sense that their careers are just beginning; but in terms of craft, in terms of technique, these artists have emerged.
At Leavings, we believe in the autonomy and power of art; that is to say, we value writing that does not subordinate itself to a social situation, but rather stands as its own entity. We take inspiration from an art group of the late 1960’s, Black Mask, whose name later changed to Up Against the Wall Motherfucker, a phrase taken from a poem by Amiri Baraka. We likewise take influence from publications ranging from Lana Turner to American Poetry Review, and many in between. Our goal, however, is to stand as a unique and original magazine, similar but different from the aforementioned platforms, and appealing to both art aficionados and communities more removed from academia and literary publications. We have a vision of this magazine becoming a kind of collective, a nonhierarchical group of artists where each member works together with equal say to make decisions concerning the magazine. We have been in touch with a handful of the contributors featured here in this first issue, and we look forward to announcing the additions to our team in the near future.
The following appended poem is by Mack Magers. Mack was so much more than a friend to the editors; he was like a brother. He passed away at the age of 24 on December 5, 2019. Mack had an intense love for both philosophy and poetry, and one of his many ambitious goals was to publish his writings. Sadly, this is the first time his work will appear in any publication, but we are happy to serve that honor. It is our belief that this poem is one of the last he had written, and while the speaker is clearly in a low spot, the poem is marked by an emotional intensity and a strong will to live. The poem values solidarity in friendship during these times of assassins. Following Mack’s poem, “Midwinter Midnight,” is a piece of art created by Jake Weightman, another close friend of Mack’s, which he created specifically for this magazine, Leavings. Jake brings into clear vision an interpretation of an image from Stan Plumly’s poem of the same title: “To be totally absent from yourself, / from thought of yourself, to forget yourself entirely. / To go out only at night, naked to the soles, / perpetually catching cold, and in fear of footprints / walk on your hands. They’d think five-toed bird, / and at the edge of water imagine flight.”