Word from the Editor
Kori Kessler, Issue 15: Summer/Fall 2019
A psychic I saw once said that 2019 was the year of reconstruction. This was not my personal reading, rather a global prediction. See, 2018 was the year of transformation—a tumultuous year, according to my psychic, where difficult changes had to occur to make way for the future. In 2019, she predicted that the human collective would build off the chaos of 2018 to reconstruct, for better or worse, the trajectory of our future.
Of course, it’s imperative that any discussion of the future of Lunch Ticket include the people who will lead us there: people of color, LGBTQ+, and women. The selections featured in Issue 15 Summer/Fall 2019 continue to help the journal as we strive to fulfill the mission we began in 2012. As Lunch Ticket looks for ways to expand our outreach, assuring that the voices of underrepresented and misrepresented communities remains at the core of the journal is non-negotiable. But here’s another voice I’d like to add to that list, a group that is often brushed off as inexperienced or idealistic: youth.
“There’s a reason why youth movements often are the ones that seek change in our world,” young adult writer Jennifer Brody says in On the Importance of Young Adult Fiction. “It’s a special time in life when a person is willing to question the current society and even topple the system.”
Young people are already leading lives as artists, scholars, writers, leaders and activists. Many are organizing, taking a stand against gun violence or marching for policy change to combat the disastrous effects of climate change. These young people have already established themselves, not as the leaders of the future, but as the leaders of today. Perhaps it’s time that we look to these leaders rather than keep insisting they would benefit from our advice.
As our team discussed what we wanted our trajectory to look like, we knew we had to expand our mission to include writing by young people. In March of this year, we launched School Lunch, a bi-weekly youth spotlight for writers between 13-17.
As we move to a brand-new website with our eye on the future, we continue to honor the bedrock of our literary foundation: our two contests.
Our Gabo Prize for Literature in Translation and Multilingual Texts continues to ensure Lunch Ticket’s commitment to works in translation. This year’s Gabo Prize winner Matthew Landrum translates “The Sun’s Taste” by Rannvá Holm Mortensen. Guest judge Dick Cluster says, “The images just keep coming in Rannvá Holm Mortensen’s poem, and Matthew Landrum brings them to us in English with a deft, sure hand.’” Landrum’s prize-winning translations appear alongside our first ever multilingual text finalist as well as other literary works translated from Spanish, German, Italian, French, Hungarian and Mongolian, which we featured in our Gabo Prize and translation sections.
This issue’s winner of our Diana Wood’s Memorial Award in Creative Nonfiction, “Secret Ingredient” by Nicole Nimri, captivates us with what guest judge Terry Wolverton describes as “inventive structure to explore themes of culture, diaspora, family and gender expectations. By focusing on traditional foods, the author brings us into the intimate customs and rituals of this Jordanian family living in the U.S.”
Lunch Ticket continues to look for new ways to connect with people to build a literary community, in April 2019 we added a monthly Twitter Poetry contest. Lunch Ticket has worked to establish a brand and update our look for the future. Those are important concepts for an online literary journal. But how do we come out from behind our platform, our brand, to ensure our vision of the future? This is something I think about every time I put an issue of Lunch Ticket together.
In her essay “True Passion in Paradise,” youth artist and activist Sumayah Chappelle questions the course of humanity in a digital age: “We are all working to build our platform; we are constantly building, and building, climbing, and climbing to get to the top so that all eyes are on us, but once all eyes are on us, what do we have to say? What do we have to offer? What will move us forward?”
Chappelle makes an excellent point. Truth is a sticky concept in 2019, especially when it comes to building a platform or branding. How many corporations and individuals have proclaimed themselves a friend to the environment or a champion to the marginalized? How many times does a meme about Earth Day or Mental Health Awareness Month have to circulate before real change is made? As Chappelle points out, branding keeps the stakes relatively low. It’s safer to hide behind a brand because they allow us to align ourselves with the concept of change without actually having to enact real change.
If Lunch Ticket seeks to change the future of publishing, and become a platform which ensures a more encompassing world view, we must continue to focus on progress and action. For far too long the publishing world privileges the voices of a select few. We are an impetus for change, and the time is now. We amplify voices, experiences, and stories that strain to be seen and heard even in the world as connected as ours.
As our staff of fifty-one worked together to put together Issue 15 Summer/Fall 2019, we looked for works which haunted and moved us; we found it in the voices and stories about and by youth.
From Luz Pinilla’s “Letters from My Childhood” to eighteen-year-old Elizabeth Wing’s “Theodore Draws Wolves,” as our readers plunge into the pages of this issue they’ll stories of childhood, college, puberty, first-time experiences, and long held memories.
When looking back on our own youth, we recognize the challenges of finding language for our experience. Perhaps that is because many of us were told that children should be seen and not heard. In our interview with Carmen Maria Machado, she discusses her new memoir The Dream House. In the memoir Machado speaks to her younger self with compassion and understanding. By giving her younger self a platform to speak her truth, she invites all younger people to voice their truths. As a result Machado is modeling solidarity with youth to make systematic change.
The works in this issue find their voice in a chorus. With poems like Anna Wang’s “Dis / obedience,” Arianna Hayes’s essay “Representation of Systemic Racism“, and Christina Paries’s short story “The Jesus Christ of Henworth High,” the pieces in Issue 15 are bold, vibrant and unapologetic.