a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
So long as an educated minority, living off all previous generations, hardly guessed why life was so easy to live, so long as the majority, working day and night, did not quite realize why they received none of the fruits of their labour, both parties believed this to be the natural order of things, and the world of cannibalism could survive. People often take prejudice or habit for truth and in that case feel no discomfort: but if they once realize that their truth is nonsense, the game is up. From then onwards it is only by force that a [person] can be compelled to do what [they] consider to be absurd.”
~Alexander Herzen, From the Other Shore
The precise role of the artist, then, is to illuminate that darkness, blaze roads through that vast forest, so that we will not, in all our doing, lose sight of its purpose, which is, after all, to make the world a more human dwelling place.
~James Baldwin, The Creative Process
The center of gravity is resistance. This was our guiding principle as we put together this issue. We asked ourselves about the nature of justice and how artists and writers—creatives of all kinds—could respond in productive ways to the ongoing struggle for justice in our society and around the world. What was at the heart of that hopeful and critical endeavor? Resistance. But what does that look like in the hands or work of a creative? Surely, it has to be to create—to create with joy, hope, intention, connection, and determination in the face of injustice, to become a kind of celestial gravitational body, which though invisible to the naked eye, pulls all things into its inescapable, event horizon.
But what kind of creatives? Here the sublime, Iranian poet Forugh Farrokhzad is instructive: “I believe in being a poet in all moments of life. Being a poet means being human. I know some poets whose daily behavior has nothing to do with their poetry. In other words, they are only poets when they write poetry. Then it is finished and they turn into greedy, indulgent, oppressive, shortsighted, miserable, and envious people. Well, I cannot believe their poems.” So we sought the kind of creatives whose work Forugh Farrokhzad, and we, could believe in.
We commend this poetry, prose, and art to you, for your inspiration and edification, in the hopes that it will kindle in you a fire of resistance. As our call for submissions declared, we are as much in need of your shoulder, pressed to the wheel of the world, right now as much as our mother, fathers, and guardian kin—grandmothers and grandfathers, and other kith—were needed in decades past. The work to make the world a place of kindness, care, equity, and justice is still an exigent necessity. We hope the work in this issue shouts that reality from the mountaintops. We give you the Center of Gravity issue.
~Marjory Wentworth, Gerald L. Coleman, Orchid Tierney
Marjory Wentworth is the New York Times bestselling author of Out of Wonder, Poems Celebrating Poets (with Kwame Alexander and Chris Colderley). Her books of poetry include Noticing Eden, Despite Gravity, The Endless Repetition of an Ordinary Miracle and New and Selected Poems. Her poems have been nominated for The Pushcart Prize seven times She is also the co-writer of We Are Charleston, Tragedy and Triumph at Mother Emanuel, with Herb Frazier and Dr. Bernard Powers and Taking a Stand, The Evolution of Human Rights, with Juan E. Mendez. She is co-editor with Kwame Dawes of Seeking, Poetry and Prose inspired by the Art of Jonathan Green, and the author of the prizewinning children’s story Shackles. Wentworth is the South Carolina Director of Poetry in Precincts. She served as the poet laureate of South Carolina from 2003 2017. In 2020, she was named a National Coalition Against Censorship Free Speech is for Me Advocate. Wentworth teaches courses in writing, social justice, and banned books at The College of Charleston, where she is part of the Social Justice Working Group for the Center for the Study of Slavery and the Afghan Refugee Circle of Welcome.
Gerald L. Coleman is a philosopher, theologian, poet, and Science Fiction & Fantasy author. He was born in Lexington and now makes his home in the Atlanta area. He did his undergraduate work in philosophy, english, and religious studies, followed by a master’s degree in Theology. He is the author of the Epic Fantasy novel series, The Three Gifts, which currently includes When Night Falls (Book One), A Plague of Shadows (Book Two), and the upcoming When Chaos Reigns (Book Three). His poetry has appeared in: Pluck! The Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture, Drawn To Marvel: Poems From The Comic Books, Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel Vol. 18, Black Bone Anthology, the 10th Anniversary Issue of Diode Poetry Journal, About Place Journal, and Star*line Vol. 43, Issue 4. His speculative fiction short stories have appeared in: The Cyberfunk Anthology: The City, the Roaring Lion Anthology: Rococoa, the Urban Fantasy Anthology: Terminus and Terminus 2, the 2019 JordanCon Anthology: You Want Stories?, Dark Universe: Bright Empire, Cyberfunk! by MVMedia, the JordanCon 2022 Anthology: Neither Endings Nor Beginnings, and Whether Change: The Revolution Will Be Weird. His essays appear in the polish language Con-Magazine: KONwersacje, Apex Magazine 127, and the Hugo nominated Fanzine: Journey Planet. He has been a Guest Author at DragonCon, Boskone, Blacktasticon, JordanCon, Atlanta Science Fiction & Fantasy Expo, SOBSFCon, The Outer Dark Symposium, World Horror Con, Imaginarium, and Multiverse. He is a Scholastic National Writing Juror, a Co-founder of the Affrilachian Poets, an SFWA member, a Rhysling Award Nominee, and a recipient of The Hero of the Horn Award at JordanCon. He is currently working on new editions of When Night Falls, A Plague of Shadows, and writing book three in epic fantasy series – entitled, When Chaos Reigns.
Orchid Tierney is a poet and scholar from Aotearoa New Zealand. She is the author of the collection a year of misreading the wildcats (The Operating System, 2019) and six chapbooks, including my beatrice (above/ground press, 2020) and ocean plastic (BlazeVOX Books, 2019). Her scholarship, reviews, and poetry have appeared in Jacket2, Venti, Fractured Ecologies, and elsewhere. Tierney is the recipient of the Ohio Arts Council Y22 Individual Artist Excellence Award. She is an assistant professor of English at Kenyon College and a current senior editor at the Kenyon Review.
Other works by Gerald L. Coleman »
Other works by Marjory Wentworth »