Rarely has a year felt so upended. River City Poetry offered a special edition this June, an effort to honor the strange confluence of events that has marked 2020.
The poetry of this Fall 2020 issue continues to mark that sentiment as poets respond to the times, the headlines, the issues that surround us.
The online journal has only ever been one aspect of what River City Poetry hopes to accomplish. But this year, the events that we would typically host, the collaborations we would sponsor–those radically changed [or in many cases, disappeared altogether]. Like many artists and those self-employed, reconfiguring what it means to create and communicate in a completely online format shaped the poems that are part of this issue.
We’ve also chosen to include broadsides from the Wichita Broadside Project 2020, which ran from February through October. These were originally designed to be posters placed in high-foot traffic areas in our Wichita community. But of course, shelter-in-place orders, and the need to reduce our activities meant that poets and 2D artists had to reconsider how their designs would be received. I think the results are fantastic.
Christine Swanberg writes in her opening poem for this issue that “poetry is the mouth beneath the mask,” and I hold that line closely to my own heart as I remember that despite the challenges this year has brought, despite my own need to do more to fight systemic injustice and racism, despite my own helplessness in the face of watching loved ones get sick, while other loved one argue over whether COVID19 even exists, that hidden shadow is where poetry is so utterly necessary.
Changes are coming to River City Poetry in the spring. We are excited, that despite so many challenges, we are growing in new directions and remain committed to sharing poetry and providing unique opportunities for poets to collaborate and create new work. Look for those changes later in the year.
And as always, we are grateful to our dedicated readers. We are small but mighty in our support of writers and creatives.
As former Kansas Poet Laureate Kevin Rabas, is fond of saying—
Write On, my friends. Write On.