Each of us has a thing that we keep stuffed in our cheek a pebble lodged under our tongue a few grains in the eye a prickly pear we wear on the shoulder a ball of coal we keep between two toes, some thing that we worry over that we toss around that we examine over and over that we push aside for a few weeks months years decades so that when we come back to it – because we will always return to it – we come back new fresh from encounters with strangers with colleagues with family with tv pundits with grocery clerks students and friends. What is your thing? My thing is labor and labor’s thing with me is money.
I re-imagine labor constantly.
Back in 2007, a television news segment foretold the future of labor: Generation Millennial would forever change the face of labor. Top-floor corner officer reserved for executives. Gone. These executives would now sit behind a desk in the middle of the office floor, like a receptionist, and be available to all employees. (This was the case for a top NYC-based magazine, whose executive feared her staff would simply up and walk across the street for better employment.) That is a re-imagining of structure, certainly, and if we re-imagine organizational structure, we can re-imagine labor within organizations; in the same way that if we re-imagine hierarchies, we can re-imagine labor.
A student once said that all workers should go on strike for an entire month. Imagine, she exclaimed, a month with no service workers! I can imagine that world. Coffeeshops closed. Gasoline stations closed. Grocery stores closed. Clothing shops closed. Want a mani-pedi? Do it at home. Need medical help? Have a first aid kit on hand.
What would the world look like if strikers across the globe went on strike for a month?
What would the world look like if writers and artists were paid a living wage to produce work?
What would the world look like if nurses and postal clerks and waiters made as much money as bankers?
What would the world look like if we never assigned genders at birth? If Malcolm X had not been assassinated? If we knew more about ledger art by Plains Indian visual artists than we thought we knew about Native American headdress? If Gabriela Silang were a household name? If Pauli Murray were a household name? If children’s homes had a copy of What Can You Do with a Paleta?/¿Qué puedes hacer con una paleta? If Hassan Blasim had not had to flee Iraqi Kurdistan? If there was no need for a women’s car on trains in México City?
When I challenged people to reimagine everything differently, I literally meant everything. & for the imagination, the past is as vital a place to do re-imaginings as the future.
The selections here are from people who did took the challenge and ran. From re-imagining the typical love story that involves two women (no tragic lesbian love story here!) to a re-imagining of “life love and the pursuit of liberty” to a re-imagining of a single neighborhood that could have chosen to refuse racist acts to a re-imagining of femininity and fairy tales to a re-imagining of real love to a re-imagining of online communities and deep connections to visual re-imaginings of books and salvation and glee and dreamscapes.
Dive in. Enjoy. & thank you to everyone who shared the call, thanks to Patricia Spears Jones, Richard Cambridge and Michael McDermott for offering editorial feedback on the call; deep thanks to Racquel Goodison and b. william bearheart who read a whole lot of submissions; deep thanks to everyone who submitted.
And so much gratitude to you, readers and viewers. We need more readers. Re-imagine a world in which reading actually is fundamental and a joy.
Issue Editor: Metta Sáma
Recipient of Poetry Society of America’s 2016 Robert H. Winner Memorial Award, Metta Sáma is author of the chapbooks the year we turned dragon (Portable Press @ Yo-Yo Labs) le animal & other creatures (Miel), After “Sleeping to Dream”/After After (Nous-Zot), Nocturne Trio (YesYes Books) & the full-length collection South of Here. Her poems, fiction, and creative nonfiction essays have been published in Heir Apparent, Valley Voices, Puerto del Sol’s Black Voices Series, Literary Hub, Kweli, bluestem, Apogee, All About Skin (edited by Jina Ortiz & Rochelle Spencer), Please Excuse This Poem: 100 Poets for the Next Generation (edited by Lynn Melnick & Brett Fletcher Lauer), Resisting Arrest: Poems to Stretch the Sky (edited by Tony Medina), among others. She has served as guest editor for Reverie, Black Camera, RedLeaf Poetry Journal and North American Review. She serves on the advisory board of Black Radish Books and the Board of Directors at Cave Canem. Metta is a Fellow at Black Earth Institute, the director of Center for Women Writers and an Assistant Professor and Director of Creative Writing at Salem College.
Assistant Issue Editors:
Racquel Goodison is an Assistant Professor of English at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY. She has been a resident at Yaddo and the Saltonstall Arts Colony, as well as a recipient of the Astraea Emerging Lesbian Writer’s Grant and a scholarship to the Fine Arts Works Center. Her stories, poems, and creative nonfiction have been nominated for the Pushcart and she has work forthcoming in The Encyclopedia Project, Vol. L-Z. Her fiction chapbook, SKIN, was a finalist for the 2013 Goldline Press Fiction Chapbook competition and the winner of the Creative Justice Short Story Competition. It was subsequently published as a stand-alone story October 2015 and can be found at lulu.com .
b. william bearhart is a direct descendent of the St Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin, studies in the Lo Rez MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts, and currently works as a poker dealer in a small Wisconsin casino when not writing or editing. His work can be found or is forthcoming in Bloom, Cream City Review, North American Review, PANK, Prairie Schooner, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and Tupelo Quarterly among others.
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