Scuttled by the season, staff changes and, yes, even by the affordable care act (whose much-maligned website our own outgoing art editor and web designer, Rob Ray, had some small part in helping remedy and who we want to recognize emphatically for all his great service to us!), we are pleased finally to bring you Drunken Boat#18 to inaugurate 2014. It’s a big moment for us because we celebrate our 15-year anniversary this year and plan to commemorate the occasion with special issues and events all year long…but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves! Because we have on hand what we humbly think is one of the best issues we’ve published to date. We'd like to thank the New York State Council on the Arts, CCSU and our many individuals donors for helping making this a reality.
Let’s begin with the special folios for this issue. First, for the last eight years Caspar Stracke and Gabriela Monroy have been curating the video_dumbo festival in Brooklyn, NY, which is dedicated to presenting the best experimental and contemporary film installations and video art, and is rapidly becoming one of the most important exhibition platforms for emerging filmmakers and media artists. Exceedingly international in focus and championing the diversity of video art being made today, video_dumbo has become an institution, and we are glad to present a retrospective of work shown at the 8th annual festival in 2013. Next, Mary-Elizabeth Mali has been taking cathartic excursions into the deep to take captivating photographs and write aquatic poems, and she has assembled a collection of pulsating work about the ocean, that vast and exceedingly contested marine space that occupies most of the earth’s surface.
Finally we have two extremely timely assemblages from two of Drunken Boat’s own editors; Poetry Editor Michelle Chan Brown has put together a folio on the subject of debt, which seems the overriding concern of our fiscal conversation in the global economy. The questions of how much do we owe and to what end have taken on a near-ontological resonance as we struggle to cope with global, national and personal issues of indebtedness. And living in Arizona, Nonfiction Editor Erin Wilcox has had front-row seats to the increasingly problematic conversation about race and immigration that has exploded into the national consciousness. The infamous Senate Bills 1070 and 2281 proposed some of the most restrictive and strictest anti-illegal immigration measures in recent U.S. history. In lockstep with that measure, the Arizona Department of Education banned numerous ethnic books, including Shakespeare’s The Tempest, because they had the potential to “promote resentment towards a race or class of people.” Despite the fact that a large proportion of Arizona public school students are Latino, the Arizona state legislature abolished a Mexican-American Studies curriculum in Tucson. In response activist author Tony Diaz helped found the Librotraficante (or “book trafficker”) movement whose goal is to smuggle the banned books back into the classrooms and to promote free speech and an unfettered exchange of ideas. In Drunken Boat #18, we examine some of the voices in and around this important cultural movement.
In addition to these special folios, we also have Poetry, Fiction, and Reviews represented, with a collection of some of the best writers working in their respective mediums today. 2013 was a banner year for Drunken Boat, one in which we published our second book, Lisa Russ Spaar’s exquisite collection of micro-essays on contemporary poetry, The Hide-and-Seek Muse: Annotations of Contemporary Poetry, introduced by Nick Flynn, raved about by Ann Beattie and Jerome McGann, and named a SPD Best Seller; we also previewed this latest issue to a packed house at Brooklyn Fireproof. But the beginning of the new year is always a time not just to reflect but to look ahead with shiny, new resolutions in mind and so we are proud to announce that we will be co-hosting a live performance during the AWP conference in Seattle with Ugly Duckling Presse, Les Figues and Ahsahta at the Alibi Room on February 28th and that we will be maintaining our triquarterly schedule this year with new issues forthcoming in May and September. We also promise to make our blog a livelier place and to put on more multimedia performances around the world. We are proud to introduce a few new additions to our staff as well, including Erica Mena, who intrepidly began her tenure as Managing Editor smack dab in the middle of our Production cycle (replacing David Harrison Horton who is staying on as an Associate Editor), Emily Vizzo, who will be invaluable as Assistant Managing Editor, Jamie Townsend who has lots of ideas in and around social media to implement, and Mary-Kim Arnold, our Director of Outreach who is going to help us, organizationally and organically, to continue to grow. Finally, our biggest resolution is to connect even more with you, our readers from around the world, so we encourage you to submit your work, to promote the works that have you animated, to propose collaborations, and to share your ideas on what you’d like to see appear in our magazine in future iterations. We hope you take as much pleasure in exploring Drunken Boat #18 as we did in putting it together.
Happy new year!
Editor, Drunken Boat
Ravi Shankar is Poet-in-Residence and Associate Professor of English at Central Connecticut State University, Chairman of the Connecticut Young Writers Trust and the founding editor of Drunken Boat. He has published or edited seven books of poems, including Deepening Groove, Radha Says, Seamless Matter, Voluptuous Bristle, Wanton Textiles, and Instrumentality. Along with Tina Chang and Nathalie Handal, he edited Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from Asia, the Middle East & Beyond (W.W Norton & Co.), called “a beautiful achievement for world literature” by Nobel Laureate Nadine Gordimer. He has won a Pushcart Prize, been featured in The New York Times and the Chronicle of Higher Education, appeared on the BBC and NPR, and has performed his work around the world. He is currently on the faculty of the first international MFA Program at City University of Hong Kong.