The geothermal pool captured in Andrew Goldman’s cover photo is both a tranquil hot spring and an erupting geyser within Yellowstone National Park. Mesmerizing and miraculous, this cone of otherworldliness boldly opens this one spot of earth, while also simmering beneath our everyday natural world providing essential ecological benefits; a thing that lives by its nature and is necessary to our own wellbeing, but that, nevertheless, tears our world apart to unexpectedly explode from excessive heat and pressure. This cycle of water, heat, steam, pressure, eruption, cooling, replenishment, and renewal is the very essence of life.
It is life.
It’s also a cycle that all writers understand: speaking when he or she must speak, in a moment that is often unpredictable, and where the bright sunshine, blue sky, and green trees of the everyday world welcome this sometimes strange speech into the greater whole of life. A good story, poem or play makes us stop and take notice of that which is the exception, that which is otherworldly but still very much entrenched in this world. How could it not?
This second volume of Clockhouse features works that demonstrate, even elucidate, this other world within the everyday, this cycle of eruption, disruption, hope and change. David Greenspan’s play, Jonas, crosses time and genre, and places the life of very real characters within the memory and invention of others. In “A Time to Reap,” Carolyn Thorman’s protagonist wrestles to accept the unexpected, while Beth Kephart shows us how the everyday disappears in the midst of emergency in “The Velocity of Wings.” In this issue’s interview, “The Strangeness of Story,” M.T. Anderson recognizes us at “an historic cusp in human history. . . . living at a time when humans are turning themselves into something new that has never been seen on this earth.”
This otherworldliness can come through by dipping into the past to bring forth new meaning. Purvi Shah uses the ancient ghazal form of verse to explore the heartache that most of us experience at least once in our lifetimes; Wally Swist’s poem, “The Victrola on the Label,” savors the memory of a life that narrowly escaped calamity to eventually enjoy a well-deserved serenity; and Michelle Yasmine Valladares and Nancy Kricorian each take cultural traditions and hold them up against today’s concerns and realities.
Certainly the unexpected eruptions within our own hearts and souls, the personal stories, cannot be left out. Elisabeth Frost shares with us five such moments in “Proxy,” while Naomi Shihab Nye methodically puts aside the specific for the turbulent universal in “O Syria,” and Bernie Hafeli writes of daring, hope and renewal in “Kiss.”
Each work within this volume of Clockhouse has its unique qualities of the strange alongside the familiar, the unpredictable eruption amid the quiet—brimming with life that is the very embodiment of who, what, and where we are.
As we celebrated the inaugural issue of Clockhouse last year, I referred to the literary journal as “a living anthology.” A periodic collection of emerging and established voices, speaking in different forms and genres, makes the literary journal a unique and unequivocal continuum—a living, and breathing, reflection of our existence. An anthology, that, like the natural world around us, moves, shifts, and evolves.
In the days, weeks, and months since that launch event, and thanks to the work of our dedicated editorial staff to prepare and publish Volume Two, Clockhouse officially became a continuum. The living anthology you now hold in your hands is a river of thought and conversation—at times raging, at others serene—that reflects and reacts to the changing climate of our worlds and of our lives.
And, once again, Clockhouse invites you to join in.
Julie Parent, Editor