Love and Other Indoor Sports

Love, intimacy and the whole curious enterprise of scoring a mate increasingly resembles a feat of athleticism – we break into a sweat both contemplating it and exerting ourselves in various states of undress out on the field; we don questionable uniforms to enlist with a “team” and to differentiate ourselves from the competition; self-help gurus and well-meaning whistle-blowing social referees enforce the rules and determine acceptable play; there are “breaks” during which little happens by way of refreshment; and somebody is always winning or losing en route to the goal, no matter how often the obstacles shift. For this issue, tongue firmly in cheek, we take time-out from heavy lifting and square off for some verbal gymnastics in the name of a 21st century blood sport.

Wordplay title-holder Diane Schoemperlen graces the cover with a sneak peek at a pre and post-lovelorn protagonist relieved from paralyzing writer’s block only when her heart is finessed by a former lover. At a Loss for Words debuts in bookstores Valentine’s Day.

Laurel Saville takes inventory of past lovers who weren’t the titular “One,” but offers a roster of entertaining if misguided substitutes while trying out for a team of two. In “Flambe” Suzanne Burns’ femme fatalist, enflamed with a potent blend of passion and desperation, ignites a fire station with this not-so-sweet treat. Kim Downey’s “Second Soprano” enlists a pitch-perfect naïf who bests her partner on the golf course in a tour-de-force showing of mind over macho. Elaine McCluskey closes the issue with darkly humorous account of unlikely mates, twists of fate, and an exchange that begins with a concertina on a bike and ends with walrus tusks and a want ad. These and other slightly acidic love letters are the antidote to more saccharine entreaties and continue a tradition that spans Cyrano to cybersex.

The poets showcased in this issue have dipped their swords as well, alternately employing the tip to titillate and set en garde. Joan Crate recasts Snow White with a self-satisfying mango rather than the poisonous apple; Emily Wight devours her beloved in “Arancio, Two Mouths”; Jennifer Houle offers a literary striptease in “Peel”; and Adrienne Gruber develops a potent concoction of the quotidian and the exotic in “Incubation.” Read these and the others here for a delicious taste of verse served rare.

Think you’re a good sport but confused by today’s dating arena? Josey Vogels, Canada’s Carrie Bradshaw and My Messy Bedroom columnist, talks sex in our cities in a candid interview that goes between the sheets (paper or 400-thread count Egyptian cotton) and onto the streets to ask what we really do in the rooms of our own.

Finally, a nod to Chloe Lewis’s envy-inducing green cover image that poses a woman primping for a night on the town assembled like so much lego. Her four photos of men and women sporting desire or defeat likewise beg the story. Tamara Girke’s black-and-white shots of jerseys and bedposts are equally haunting portraits of the boudoir long after seduction has left the building.

And now to the playing field, for surely literature is the finest aphrodisiac/steroid of them all, emboldening us to utter unspoken thoughts, secret fantasies, untold memories. Thanks to all the contributors here who have shown sportswomanship is alive and well and living indoors, where all great feats of love and literature begin.

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