The writing assembled here for the first issue of Annulet: A Journal of Poetics is nothing short of miraculous, given the world historical conditions under which it was composed. I find it inspiring that each critic, poet, writer, and scholar here found time and focus to produce the caliber of work included in Issue (1) among their many other obligations. These poems, essays, fictions, commentary, and annulets are glowing with spirit, concentration, precision, flow. They are drawn from the depths of pure interest. They are variously warm and social, punchy and considered, scholarly and relaxed. I would be pressed to find a more complete series of attributes that can be appended to the better part of this weird state, quarantined for a year with the prospect of emergence just beginning, in which we find ourselves.
Admittedly, it is a fraught time to start a literary journal. The early spring of 2021 is a moment of continued conflict, of pained stasis and scientific breakthrough. The recent hate crime against Asian sex workers in Acworth and in Atlanta is yet another tragic iteration of contemporary domestic terrorism perpetrated by white supremacists, who are the historical and current agents of the genocidal American project. Annulet stands with the AAPI community and sex workers, and condemns the rise in hate crimes against Asian-Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you haven’t already, you can donate to support local action networks here, here, here, and here. Annulet believes that the work of liberation is not complete until not a single trace of white supremacy can make its mark on a renewed, reorganized, and reimagined present.
And in the wake of such reprehensible violence, these prospects of a return to redefined normalcy are unevenly distributed, in the U.S. and across the world. The shadow of mass death, so many of these individual losses preventable, is beside this work and the origin of this journal. So too is the continued and intensifying conditions of labor exploitation, and unfair distribution of resources, from vaccines in low-income or minority neighborhoods to electricity in climate-disaster affected areas. Writers are not necessarily shielded by the nature of their labor from threat: many have been compelled to return to badly ventilated and overpopulated classrooms, to be present at their physical jobs in other forms of service, to face uncertainty and exclusion from tiers of vaccine qualification. Some of us are newly operating remotely, or find ourselves newly or continually out of work. I want to acknowledge that Annulet would not be possible without those keeping society going, in grocery stores and shipping sites, in hospitals and gas stations, harvesting in fields and in houses repairing plumbing, working within the continued threat of exposure while others experience relatively uninterrupted security. Networks build, bind, and bolster all of us, each part adding to a communal whole. As with all things existing in relation, it is our work on the scale of a small, U.S.-based literary journal to the wider world to continue to make our networks better, fit for all.
This first issue is filled with, mostly, poetry. In addition, there are several annulets, this new eponymous form of the short close-read which should indicate to attentive readers that while close-reading is a familiar method, here, it is also an open-ended art form, as disruptive in its style and substance as it is hyper-focused in annotation. Our comparative essay from Rachel Feder demonstrates precisely what we’re looking for in this critical mode: what is produced, ultimately, in the bringing together of two things. Likewise, Khadijah Queen’s essay intertwines archival recovery, translation, and a reminder that women’s resistance work has long taken place along the living lines of language. Essays on experience of place, or what we’re lovingly calling paeans, are at once as expansive as they are reflective. Commentary from Knar Gavin and Justin Cox extend their respective conversations between poetry’s use, political exigence, and the thinking through of what it is to be in situ. Karla Kelsey’s appreciation of Donna Stonecipher’s translation of Friederike Mayröcker points to the heart of Annulet’s project: that poems, and poets, passages and writers, are closely read and closely cherished. Annulet makes no attempt to separate this interpersonal reality out: in fact, I believe that we can hold each other’s work in rigor, and should. Our reviews also attest to this standard.
Annulet is grateful to its inaugural contributors, who range from colleagues, friends, and those who came to it from the mysteries of an online call’s network’s orbit. Each writer sent their work into the blue of a new literary journal, which is a generous and bold thing to do. I am also personally grateful to my web designer for answering all my calls for technical guidance, and for the encouragement, patience, and effort of Annulet’s contributing editors who have agreed to steer the journal into the future with me. In future issues, Annulet will continue to be a supportive space for emerging and established writers, critics, and scholars of color. Annulet aims for inclusion, while remaining firmly against essentialism or tokenism in any form. Further, I want to make clear that it is an important objective of this project to one day, sooner rather than later, pay its contributors for their work.
I know, reader, an incredible amount of revelatory work awaits you. I hope this reading experience, like all great reading experiences, brings you into a sense of co-constitutive textual community, which is only becoming more and more precious as these days somehow continue.
With excitement, hope, and gratitude,