When I first began putting together my issue of 195, I wasn’t sure where to start. Should I already have a theme in mind before I begin reading? Should I start with the art and work my way into the literary after finding a visual launch pad to guide me? In the end, I took a very systematic approach: clicking through each link in the 10th issue, one by one in the order they appeared on the webpage, then working backwards through the issues from there. As I read, I made note of pieces that really resonated with me in particular. Before long, certain patterns in my selections became obvious.
For one thing, all of the pieces I ultimately chose are heavy with water imagery: a series of island paintings, a photograph of found plastic cheese spreaders washed ashore Kehoe Beach, a woman who wakes to the sounds of the ocean, a tire boat, a dream boat. The writers and artists both construct the body of their work in a quiet, understated manner. In all of these pieces, the mundane is rendered beautiful: through a deft use of language, a novel way of viewing the world, or disparate elements merging in surprising form.
A more subtle thread that weaves many of the works together, however, is their juxtaposition of what we perceive as real with what we perceive as fake. Ryan Grossman paints images of rain clouds and the ocean—water in various guises—but he does it using oils. Meanwhile, Alison Doernberg’s “How I Forget the Shape of Your Mouth When You Are Deep in Thought” begins with evocative descriptions of tangible, everyday objects, and yet the sound of the ocean from the narrator’s alarm clock in the last vignette essentially amounts to bottled nature, an inauthentic substitute for the real thing. Similarly, MRB Chelko starts his poem “Memoir” with vivid descriptions of biting into a juicy pear, eventually closing the piece with an image of plastic fruit at the supermarket. That’s when it all comes full circle.
Check out these old pieces in a new configuration by clicking the links below. I hope you enjoy reading the second issue of 195 as much as I enjoyed selecting the pieces for it!
Susan Lin, Art Director Issue 13
From Issue 10: MRB Chelko’s “Memoir” (poetry)
From Issue 8: Judith Selby Lang and Richard Lang’s “Cheese Spreaders” (art)
From Issue 6: Alison Doernberg’s “How I Forget the Shape of Your Mouth When You Are Deep in Thought” (fiction)
From Issue 10: Ryan Grossman’s “Island No. 3” (art)
From Issue 8: Mike Young’s “The Age of the Tire Boat” (fiction)