“The burden of opening up the definition of good writing should be placed on editors.”
—Ijeoma Oluo at Growing Room 2018
As I write this, I’m thinking about Growing Room 2018—the annual feminist literary festival Room started in 2017, which wrapped up last month—and how it has informed my treatment of 41.2. To no one’s surprise, there was discussion among panelists and audiences about the conventions of storytelling—what kind of stories are being told and who has the authority and audacity to tell them at all.
I’m interested in amplifying narratives and voices that disrupt what readers (including myself) are used seeing in the mainstream, literary world, and what I ended up with is an issue dominated by prose, poetry, and art that change languages in a multitude of rebellious ways. There are poems that change a language quite literally, prose that changes the language of literature, and writers who are changing the language of their own genres—all done with such purpose and grit.
Katherena Vermette proclaims that her five new, commissioned poems, which are a beginning to a collection-in-progress, are written “out of love for the words [she tries] to know.” Vermette doesn’t claim any expertise for the complex language of the Anishinaabe nation that she has loved and learned for years; she is simply taking pleasure in celebrating Anishnaabemowin in her own way.
While the definitive meaning of language and literature continues to shift, I hope that you’ll find something in this issue that will energize you to unapologetically speak your own language—whatever that might mean for you.