Editor’s Introduction

S. Tremaine Nelson

We’ve made it a full year.

Our current issue, to me, feels like the arrival of a New Generation: our cover shot by Portland-native Olivia Bee; fiction writers like Jonathan Escoffery and Xuan Juliana Wang and Sara Nović skybound in the early ascendancy of their careers; mountaineer-turned-memoirist Mignon Zemp summiting an active volcano, Wy’East, here in Oregon; poets like Faylita Hicks and Gabrielle Bates and Kate Sweeney and Tyree Daye elbowing aside the staid giants of the past and saying: it’s our turn, now — get out of the way.

During the past few months of compiling this issue, we lost a beloved member of our literary community. Giancarlo DiTrapano, the visionary editor and publisher of Tyrant Books, died suddenly in New York City on March 30. He was 47 years old.

I did not have the chance to meet Gian in person, but he counseled me and gave me advice and recommendations as I started the process of relaunching our journal. He sent me work from writers he had published. He mailed galleys for us to consider excerpting. And, hauntingly, in the days before his death he sent me a story of his own, in progress, to consider for publication in this journal. It was called “How to Become a Prayer,” and, as he did not a chance to finish it, I’ve included some of his perfect lines here, in memoriam, which still sends chills up from the base on my spine:

Make sure all of the angels from the church’s bright paintings look down on us like we are thieves just because we are new. I am poured out like water. Now all my bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax. It is melted down in the midst of my bowels. I may tell all my bones. Hosannah in the highest. As soon as the attention ceases, the prayer ceases.

Our contributor, Lauren Cerand, knew him well. Her words, which appear first in this issue, perfectly summarize the power, caprice, and charm of lifelong friendship — and its ephemerality. We look to follow Gian’s iconoclastic footsteps: loyalty to his writers; rejection of bullshit in any form it may take; and scouring the edges of the art and literary worlds for the visionaries too hot to touch by anyone with anything to lose. We should be so lucky as to follow in his footsteps in forging forward with our vision and vigor.

My ask to you, readers, is this: let us know what you think.

What would you like to see in the issues next year?

What was your favorite story we published?

Who are the writers you’d like to see in our pages?

We are all volunteers, scraping aside a few minutes here and there to work on this journal whenever we can, stolen from our other jobs, lives, children, our own projects, our own writing, to create this gnarly little physical space, chipping away at the concrete gates of the old literary canon, opening the doors to the next frontier, wherever we can find it, wherever we can protect it.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Hit me up at editor@nwreview.org.