I haven’t stepped foot in another country in over five years. This, I realize, isn’t as long as it seems; it’s a relatively short period in the grand scheme of things. Plus, I’ve been busy: I obtained two bachelor’s degrees; created an online magazine as well as edited and published its contents; entered a profession that involves reading books, devising lessons and resources, marking essays and leading poetry workshops after hours; worked toward a master’s degree, which I’ll be receiving this fall; wrote stories and poems that need homes; lost nearly 100 pounds; and made it a point to spend time with family and friends, as well as keep up with current events and read for pleasure. The notion of travelling abroad, as such, doesn’t enter my mind very often. When it does, however, it’s mostly because of this magazine.
The submissions we read and the work we publish come from all over the world and are often so evocative and illuminating that they inspire thoughts of travel. At the same time, however, participating in these processes reminds me that regardless of where we may be situated, individuals can often be preoccupied with the same fundamental ideas and concerns that become manifested differently — and creatively in the case of writers and artists — as a result of our surroundings and conditioning. Similar ideas of escapism and universalism are cleverly encapsulated in Jake Sheff’s “Barcelona” as the poem provides us with a picturesque view of the city that would appeal to many potential visitors while also chipping away at the romantic façade and the act of tourism itself. Paulavi Kar’s portfolio, on the other hand, reminds us that exotic locales are also settings for the ordinary as she candidly demonstrates, through her photographs, how daily lives are carried out in yet another tourist attraction: Varanasi, one of the world’s oldest and most colourful cities.
It can be difficult for us to look beyond ourselves and our own interests at any given moment. Literature, however, incites us to consider and connect with others, regardless of where they may be situated, because we are able to entertain different perspectives that prompt us to acknowledge and identify with others. The long list of things “cascading, / at once down sewers that can only drain // so quickly” in Cynthia Gallaher’s “Chicago Sewers,” reflects this by reminding us of the minute details that fill up our daily lives while also alluding to the way in which they, despite being unappealing at times, conceptually bind us in a fascinating fashion. Alternatively, John Grey simultaneously stresses individuality and the pursuit of a deep, soulful connection with another through the presentation of an individual’s numerous and humble lives as a result of which they become “a little more sentient, / more knowledgeable / and hopefully more likeable / with every new version” in “Dear Lisa from Somewhere in My Evolution”. The relationship between the creator and those who interact with their work is more explicitly addressed in Bruce McRae’s “Vers Libre” as the speaker claims, “the night widens, / grown bigger than the both of us, / the hypothetical ‘you and I’ contracted / in the reading and the writing of a poem.” McRae, however, reminds us that while these connections can be made, and do indeed exist, there is much else present and transpiring beyond them which are worth admiring as well.
Ultimately, this issue of Sewer Lid — and perhaps all of our issues, as well as literature and art in general — has the potential to take you places by showing you glimpses of physical existence in various cities around the world and enabling you to see and consider things dwelling within you — memories of that which you may have encountered, thoughts you may have had, or mere feelings that have yet to transform into something more significant — in profound new ways. It can also allow you to relate to others and the unfamiliar in a potentially enlightening manner. We all choose how we engage with and navigate creativity. I hope your approach allows you to enjoy and appreciate this journey.
EKRAZ SINGH is a writer, editor, educator and master’s student. Her poetry, essays, interviews and reviews have appeared in Descant, Existere, and Untethered. She serves as the executive editor and publisher of Sewer Lid, an online magazine of urban art and literature. Connect with her on Twitter @EkrazSingh.