2015 will mark our thirtieth anniversary as a literary journal. Throughout the summer and fall, our staff has been poring over the archives, assembling an anthology that will celebrate the proud history of New Delta Review. In preparation for a spring release, we’ve been reaching out to thirty years’ worth of authors, hearing stories of those who started their careers with us. There’s a particular joy now, in releasing this issue, as we locate a sense of continuity with the fifty-odd issues that came before it. We celebrate our continued tradition of publishing emerging voices, and the fierce commitment to language that has characterized NDR since 1985.
We’ve assembled the pieces here, in Issue 5.1, to be read in sequence so that the work echoes and converses as you read. The issue begins with an unsettled awareness of our selves and our bodies found in the shifting rhythms of “Five Stories,” in the brutal corporeality of “This Monstrous Heart,” in the quiet tenderness of “Ways to Prepare White Perch,” and in the uneasy meta-poetic reflections of Chen Chen and Charles Gabel. The vulnerability of this awareness is made visual by Zhangbolong Liu’s cover photographs—a pattern of holes on a wall, a bedsheet left untended. The photographs haunt with what has been left behind, with an extraordinary attention to the most ordinary of surfaces.
On the second page, the work wrestles with the elemental and spiritual questions of making and creation—what are we if not a compilation of shuddering atoms (“Origins”)? How do our births set the tone for our lives (“The Caulbearer”)? The last page explores the essence of motion and memory, from the dizzying poetry of Emily Vizzo and Gabrielle Burton to Danny Thiemann’s dreamy tale set along the U.S./ Mexico border.
I find compelling these artists’ imperative to dwell deep in the most uncomfortable of investigations, to find a home in liminal spaces. For me, it strikes a timely chord. It seems to offer an alternative to a social narrative in which fear becomes a political tool, a means of coercion and manipulation. These artists seem to ask, what if instead we embraced an awareness of our own fundamental vulnerabilities? I think of that beautiful quote from the late Joseph Campbell: “It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life.”
Welcome to this most beautiful abyss.