Homepage Summer 2019

“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

Homepage Spring 2019

“Winter Into Spring” by Lisa Boardwine, Oil/Cold Wax on Panel, 12 x 12.

Welcome to our April issue with the theme of “PEELING.” I considered this theme for a long time before settling on it, mostly wondering if it would be “right” for this (or any) issue. Then I discovered the beautiful and evocative abstract paintings of Lisa Boardwine. When I approached Lisa about the possibility of using her work to illustrate this issue, she said that much of her work involves peeling away the surfaces to reveal the hidden colors and textures beneath. And isn’t that a perfect metaphor for life? Aren’t we all accreting layers and subsequently peeling them away to reveal our truer, more beautiful selves? Once Lisa was on board, I knew we had found our perfect theme, so PEELING it is.

We have several new and emerging writers in this issue–a fact that always makes me proud to do this work. Also a wonderful Shorts On Survival piece in a collective voice. We even have several authors with multiple short pieces in this issue.

My sincere hope is that the fine writing and beautiful artwork in this issue offers you some light in the darkness, a measure of healing laughter, and/or the gift of cathartic tears. As always, thank you for reading.

Yours in Recovery,

Mary Akers
Editor-in-chief

Homepage Winter 2019

All artwork appears with permission of Anna Rac.

Welcome to our January issue “BY DESIGN,” featuring some wonderful poems, stories, essays, and flash all complimented by images from the wonderful abstract paintings of Anna Rac who generously supplied us with artwork for this issue.

We have quite a few new or emerging writers in this issue–a fact that always makes me proud to do this work.

My hope is that the fine writing and artwork in this issue offers you some light in the darkness, healing laughter, or cathartic tears. And as always, thank you for reading.

Yours in Recovery,

Mary Akers
Editor-in-chief

Homepage Fall 2018


Silo City Public Art, photo credit: TL Sherwood.

Happy Fall and welcome to our October issue with the theme of “RUST,” featuring some wonderful poems, stories, essays, and flash all complimented by images from the buildings and surrounding areas of Silo City on the Buffalo waterfront.

I’ve been thinking a lot about rust as I put this issue together, about the process of oxidation, the transfer of electrons, and the changes that happen over time to overtake us all with the aim of breaking every (organic and inorganic) thing back down into its most elemental units. It’s a fascinating process and since we have plenty of iron in our bodies and blood, we are perpetually rusting or staving off rust ourselves. Many mornings I feel kinship with the Tin Man, squeaking through frozen lips, “Oil can! Oil can!”

At home, I have a new rescue puppy (what was I thinking?) who is definitely keeping the rust from growing under my feet, along with a new batch of roughly 400 hermit crab zoeae who are keeping me busy round the clock—we’re on day nineteen as of this writing, and closing in on 100 gallons of saltwater mixed so far. My son is home for a few months as he finalizes his Peace Corps paperwork before heading off to Zambia next year, my eldest daughter is opening her own business (a board game cafe) this week, and my middle daughter recently aced her final certifying exam and is now a licensed architect in the state of New York. It’s been a busy summer.

My hope is that the fine work in this issue offers you some light in the darkness, healing laughter, or cathartic tears. And as always, thank you for reading.

Yours in Recovery,

Mary Akers
Editor-in-chief

Homepage Summer 2018


“Submerged Treasure” by Kathy O’Meara.

Happy Summer and welcome to our July issue with the theme of “VESSELS,” featuring the wonderful artwork of Kathy O’Meara, from whom the theme for the issue was borrowed. We are all vessels, yes? And the things we carry are sometimes carried voluntarily, sometimes with love, sometimes heaped upon our straining backs. But carry our burdens we do, because what else is there to do?

We have some great work in this issue, including a fascinating essay on male loneliness, a clever story that addresses the (very) creative monsters many of us live with, and at least one first-time author. It’s a marvelous collection of work and the issue came together beautifully—and thank goodness, because frankly, life has been a little hectic here of late: the website was briefly hacked, my old computer was in its death throes and has now been replaced, and well, just the general pace of life which seems to be ramping up daily.

I’m sad to say that this will be the last issue for two of our wonderful staff members. Bev Jackson, our tireless SOS editor and Noa Sivan, an astute SOS reader are both leaving us to attend to their individual lives and various creative pursuits. We will miss them, but remain grateful for all the volunteer hours they freely gave to r.kv.r.y..

On a more personal note, I’ve been dealing with a gut-wrenching mental health crisis involving a member of my family and the process has reiterated what I already suspected: most of us either have a family member who struggles with some aspect of mental health, or we struggle ourselves. Whether it be anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, dementia, Attention Deficit Disorder, or any number of other hurdles in the mind, we’ve all been affected, some in multiple forms or from multiple sides. It’s pervasive, it’s very real, and not only do these sufferers walk among us, they ARE us.

So I dedicate this issue to all of you affected by mental disorders and/or mental illness. Keep at it. Keep going. It’s the best any of us can do.

And as always, thank you for reading.

Yours in Recovery,

Mary Akers
Editor-in-chief

Homepage Spring 2018


“Moving Through Space” by Jean Banas, acrylic on canvas, 46″ x 47″.

Happy Spring, Happy Easter, and Happy April Fool’s Day! I have to say, that’s quite a trifecta for this, our April 2018 issue, with the theme of “CAKE.” Why cake, you ask? I’m not sure, really, but it’s borrowed from a wonderful flash piece in this issue because after reading it I started to think about all the connotations behind the word. On the one hand, it’s a dismissal, an expression of ease (piece of cake, a cakewalk) when in fact making a cake is anything BUT easy, as anyone who bakes will tell you. But it’s also a decadence, a celebratory food to share on birthdays, weddings, graduations, retirements, you name it. If there’s cake, we’re celebrating. Unless, of course, the suggestion is to “Let them eat cake,” in which case it’s a symbol of the privileged upper class being laughably out of touch with the plight of the everyman. Basically, I’m a fan of any word with many angles, so CAKE it is. Come have a slice with us.

There’s quite a bit of wonderful work in this issue, from a diverse array of authors, including one first-time published author, a feat that always makes me a little bit proud. It’s a special type of joy to be someone’s first publication in part because I remember how great that first publication felt and also because being the first to recognize an emerging talent is getting the opportunity to introduce their work to the world. I like being an artistic conduit.

On a more personal note, I’ve been dealing recently with a gut-wrenching mental health crisis involving a member of my family. That has nothing in particular to do with this issue, of course … except it does, because our focus is on recovery and in the process of selecting work for each issue, I read many heartbreaking stories—some with happy endings, some with little or no resolution—and I’ve come to realize how pervasive this problem is. Everyone I know either has a family member who struggles with some aspect of mental health, or struggles themselves. Whether it be anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, dementia, or any number of other hurdles in the mind, we’ve all been affected, some in multiple forms or from multiple sides. It’s pervasive, it’s very real, and not only do these sufferers walk among us, they ARE us.

So I dedicate this issue to all of you affected by mental disorders and/or mental illness. Keep at it. Keep going. It’s the best any of us can do.

And as always, thank you for reading.

Yours in Recovery,

Mary Akers
Editor-in-chief

Homepage Winter 2018


“Slipping on Chippewa Street” by Pat Zalisko, Acrylic on canvas, 48″ x 88.”

Happy New Year! And welcome to our January 2018 issue with the theme of “UNSPOKEN.” Putting together this issue has been a wonderfully transformative experience and I’m thrilled to share the results with you.
But first, a personal story.

For most of 2017, I questioned whether or not I should keep publishing r.kv.r.y.—there was the smaller question of whether I had it in me to continue shouldering the workload that publishing a journal requires, but also the larger question of whether or not its existence made any sort of appreciable difference in the world. But I’m stubborn, so…partly to keep my own interest high and partly because I was behind in securing an illustrator, I decided to illustrate this issue by reusing artwork from previous issues. Another form of recovery, if you will, and a way to create more connections in an increasingly disconnected world. As I searched through past issues, it became clear how much wonderful work we have published in the past nine years and how many exceptional artists we have been able to feature. That in itself was encouraging—seeing the scope of what we have done. (Consider this your reminder to occasionally look behind and not only ahead when feeling discouraged.) It was also incredibly interesting to see the tendrils of connection that form between two pieces of writing with the same illustration. Fascinating! And inspiring, arriving at a time when I was greatly in need of inspiration.

So, dear readers, in order to share those fascinating connections with you, I have added a “See also” link in blue beneath the illustration for each piece of writing in this issue. If you follow that link, it will take you to another thread in this vast artistic conversation that we all have a part in creating. May the process of making those connections bring you joy.

As always, thanks for reading.

Yours in Recovery,

Mary Akers
Editor-in-chief

Homepage Fall 2017


“Atmospheric Cells” by Jane Cornish Smith, oil, collage, and encaustic on board, 2007.

Welcome to our October 2017 issue with the theme of “BREATHE.”

This issue contains the work of twelve talented writers, two for whom this will be their very first publication, a fact that always makes us proud. Alongside that, we are thrilled to be able to showcase the work of outstanding, award-winning writers in this issue—a fact that also makes us proud. In short, we’re thrilled to be presenting this issue to you, our loyal readers, each piece of writing enhanced by the wonderful artwork of Jane Cornish Smith who graciously allowed us to use her work to illustrate this issue.

As always, this issue exists, thanks in no small part to my devoted editors and readers who make my job easier, and to the contributors who have trusted us to bring their work into the world. Also, thanks for the gorgeous artwork, Jane. You made each essay, story, flash, and poem pop just a little bit more.

Thanks for reading.

Yours in Recovery,

Mary Akers
Editor-in-chief

Homepage Summer 2017

Brown Days_King of the Marsh
All artwork appears courtesy of the artist Pam Brodersen.

Welcome to our July 2017 issue with the theme of “SPECULATION.” I am uploading this issue from the final week of a month-long road trip through the western United States. It’s been wonderful and exhausting, and right about now I’m really hoping that I’ve done everything necessary for this issue in advance. This marvelous issue contains the work of sixteen talented authors who we are thrilled to be presenting to you, our readers, showcased alongside the outstanding artwork of Pam Brodersen.

This issue exists, thanks in no small part to my devoted editors and readers who make my job easier, and to the contributors who have trusted us to bring their work into the world. Also, thanks for the gorgeous artwork, Pam. You made each essay, story, flash, and poem pop just a little bit more.

Thanks for reading.

Yours in Recovery,

Mary Akers
Editor-in-chief

Homepage Spring 2017

COVER image
All artwork appears courtesy of the artist Penelope Breen.

 

Happy Spring! And welcome to our April 2017 issue with the theme of “DISLOCATION.”

I’m honored to be able to share the work of these sixteen talented authors (some being published for the first time) and grateful to be allowed to present their fine work to you, our readers. Each piece of writing has the further good fortune of being paired with the sensual, textural, and evocative photography of Penelope Breen.

As always, this issue exists, thanks in no small part to my devoted editors and readers who make my job so much easier, and to the contributors who have trusted us to showcase their work. Also, thanks for the gorgeous artwork, Penelope. You made each essay, story, flash, and poem pop just a little bit more.

Our July 2017 issue will have a theme of SPECULATION.

As always, thanks for reading.

Yours in Recovery,

Mary Akers
Editor-in-chief