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“The Emerald City” by Sydney McKenna, oil on canvas.
All artwork appears courtesy of the artist.

Welcome to our July issue with the theme of “SALTWATER.” Saltwater makes up 3/4 of the earth’s surface. It is where the very first inchoate squiggles of life began. It includes tears, and sweat, both necessary elements of recovery, at least to this regular saltwater producer. Many of the stories, poems, and essays in this issue center in or around the ocean or use the ocean as a metaphor. Once I discovered the beautiful and atmospheric artwork of Sydney McKenna the whole issue came together nicely. There is the personal story of a (very literal) near-drowning along with several figurative near-drownings. This seems fitting, as we all struggle to stay afloat in this hectic, swirling life.

In this last week, while compiling the issue, the literary community lost two wonderful souls, both of whom I had the pleasure of knowing and both far too young to be gone. We first lost Paul Otremba, a beautiful poet and teacher whose soulful poetry cuts deep with an exacting and yet utterly empathetic blade. Paul was a great encourager, that rare sort of human who never failed to make one feel seen, heard, and appreciated. A few days after losing Paul, we lost Ned Stuckey-French, a champion of the essay and a man who nurtured and encouraged talent with an expert eye, a finely tuned sense of humor, and buckets of compassion. These men were kindness personified and the writing community is vastly poorer for their passing. 

Meanwhile, the world keeps spinning, as shocking as that can feel after a loss. I do hope that the fine writing and beautiful artwork in this issue offer you some light in the darkness, a measure of healing laughter, and/or the gift of cathartic saltwater, in whatever form that takes. And as always, thanks for reading.

Yours in recovery,

Mary Akers

Editor-in-chief

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