In a past note, we played on the line of medieval poetry, Sumer is icumen in. This time around, we’re linked to every plague season that’s been, and now the perennial hope for better weather bulges with subtext. After over a year of fear and isolation and disruption, hard science and a more efficient government are moving us toward a life that reminds us of one we’d known.
With the moment comes the writing, and, like everyone, we read the news, research, politics, and editorials of blunder and horror, and the personal narratives of unbearable loss. We expected an inbox glutted with pandemic writing, but most of what came in for this issue were stories and poems about the challenges we’ve always faced. Perhaps that’s the point, what the long view of history teaches us. Like sumer, struggle is always icumin in.
We both live in NYC, an early epicenter. We remember the constant sirens. We still keep a wide berth on what feel like too-crowded streets. We can’t wait to walk maskless and see faces and not germs. And we can’t wait to get back to the editing desk we share. But having put together two issues of J Journal by Zoom and phone during the pandemic, we’ve recognized another layer to the durability of good work. What we’ve read and reread and edited feels solid, lasting, and it points up the truth of another saying, one from before medieval times: This too shall pass. What will remain is the usual struggle, which is the stuff of humanity, which is the stuff of writing, no matter when.
Jeffrey Heiman, Adam Berlin
New York City