Letter to the Reader: Raw Materials
Ho Lin
[Total Pages: 3]
Letter Page 1
A new year, a new administration. Renewed hopes as we write a fresh narrative for the nation. Winter and spring, percolation and profusion. But ideas, figments, and anecdotes are perpetual, free from seasons and political shifts, like dust particles in the air, waiting for the moment when sunlight catches them and a flash illuminates our vision. As we dive headlong into the perilous times that are 2009, it's worth remembering we are empowered to shape the myriad narratives around us, at liberty to travel our own roads, mark what we will, and nod or laugh at what we find and build. The conversation summarized below can be adapted for any purpose: comedy of manners, the darkest of tragedies, social polemic, pornography, cultural farce, ode, stage play, daytime soap. The final form and lasting impact are up to us.

In this issue we're pleased to feature a group of writers and poets who gamely take on the task of cataloging, mourning, and celebrating the dust particles around us. Paul Sohar and Matt Schumacher muse on gulags urban and deadly, David Groulx finds solace in ethnic heritage and the totemic significance of place names, and Diana Festa takes comfort in one's roosting place, while James Bybee (a founding editor of this magazine) and Deborah H. Doolittle discover whole worlds encased in single thoughts, or within a tulip's petals. The color red and coffee cups play central roles in Kris Bigalk and Taylor Graham's ruminations, while John Estes contributes an amusing paean to worldly engagement, even if that world must include Starbucks and email. On the flip side, Llyn Clague and William Bernhardt offer clear-eyed