Dear APIARY Readers,
To begin the creation of Issue 8, we first listened to Philadelphia friends and family. We heard a profound sense of instability, apparent in our rapidly changing neighborhoods, increasing homelessness, and the unthinkable deprivation of education from our young people. As we sought to crystallize these conversations into a theme, APIARY Distribution Manager Kareem spoke out loud the phrase “soft targets.” We could feel it resonate in our bodies, backwards and forwards in time. This phrase, used by government and media to drum up fear about international terrorism, described the daily navigation between hope and reality, diplomacy and force, watchfulness and openness, fear and trust.
We’re deeply honored that DIY sci-fi collective Metropolarity — some of the most iconoclastic and original creators in Philadelphia today — collaborated with us on this particular issue. They offer a model of resistance by creating radically inclusive space for QPOC and working class authors to reimagine present and future. Metropolarity led workshops on the theme, edited work one-on-one with select authors, and created original pieces for the magazine. It was also a privilege to work on a magazine whose mission it is to not only highlight Philadelphia writers but to also use its resources to expand the literary community in the city. I would like to say thank you to all the APIARY staff who worked on the issue.
We believe Issue 8 is one of our best. The poetry, prose, and visual art contained here gesture towards the diversity of color, thought, and personal experience emblematic of the most culturally rich parts of Philadelphia. The work speaks directly to the experiences of the vulnerable populations in this country. How tenuous the nerves, how mentally and physically violent some spaces can be, on black, brown, queer, and trans bodies; how segregated parts of this city are; or how fear hovers over the nation like a black cloud and the sun is hard to find.
In bringing these diverse poems and stories into an order within the magazine, we did not want to feign an alternate version of reality in which “solutions” appear at the end for the sake of everyone feeling better.
So sometimes the sun must be found inside, and then just for the afternoon: as poet Jasmine Combs explains, “Today I didn't think I would survive until a friend invites me to her place, promises whisky so I un-dig my casket, drag myself to a house full of black women and we leave what is hunting us on the other side of the door.” For a few hours, the door holds.
We observed how the artists were able to take trauma and fashion a process for survival, through ritual, gathering, and the willfulness of imagination. Dressing, almost praising your wounds became a common thread. In “Lies I Will Tell my Child,” Nicole Steinberg says, “Your body is a war wound and everyone agrees it should be celebrated and kissed sweetly for existing.” In the world it’s a lie, and the writing of it makes it true.
And we chose to end with Nico Amador’s “Waiting for the Next Moment, Not Knowing that We are Headed Toward Ourselves.” Nico writes, “We all are rising. We all are going off.” In this issue, we find no single answer to the complex reality we face — except the creation itself, and the voices’ continual offering. We end at every beginning. In the void, particles find one another, colliding, exploding together into the unknown.