From the Editor’s Desk

Welcome to Issue 10 of Mistake House Magazine. This year, we journeyed as a group to the Association of Writers and Writer’s Programs (AWP) conference in Kansas City. At AWP, we hosted a booth in the bookfair, both exploring the world of writing beyond college and promoting our magazine. We collectively went to the keynote address by Jericho Brown, and his speech blew us away. 

Brown finished with a writing prompt: “Imagine a world in which almost everybody agreed that nobody should die of anything except old age.” In a time where many things seem to be going wrong and the world seems on the brink of chaos, this message is powerful. It is a goal, a mindset, and a possible future; but above all, it is an ultimatum. We must look toward a better future while not ignoring the perils of the present. 

This issue of Mistake House rises to the challenge. The writers and artists don’t shy away from challenging subjects. Instead, they portray growth and resiliency in the face of those challenges. 

The fiction section focuses on the possibilities inherent in change. Several of the stories speak to people emerging out of mourning, including this year’s Editor’s Choice Award, Enana Jacob’s “Hector and the Sea.” From the courage to know that love is a concomitant of grief to the strength to recover from violence and reach out to others to the bravery and kindness necessary to say goodbye to one gender identity in the transition to another, these stories show people pushing through tough times to emerge stronger and more themselves—and even to find joy and to “dance themselves home,” as Kyrstyn Cieply’s story puts it.  

As the poetry section has come together, it seems to us to be characterized by a sense of movement, of searching for a sense of place and belonging within complex and struggling cultures—familial, local, and regional. Inside that search, a set of vivid images from the natural world arises. Representing the longing and searching for a place of solace, these poems, like the fiction in Issue 10, show selves in both motion and realization. Thomas Dunn’s poem, “For Al,” our Editor’s Choice Award for poetry, expresses this sense of both the healing power of awareness of being in the non-anthropocentric world and the capacity to find a place in this more diverse and inclusive world.  

This issue’s photography section features the widest variety of photography we have published yet—from figurative work to interiors, from conventional photography to manipulated digital photography. Our Editor’s Choice Award, Keke Yang’s “Balloon and pin,” displays the danger of not seeing the problems, the ‘pin’ in society, the ‘balloon’ of the individual’s lived experience. The other photographs either directly point to a problem, like in Matty Palamara’s aptly named “Are we the problem?” or show the resiliency of living and growing in the face of these challenges, like in Hannah Daigle’s “Keeper.” 

Our Soap Bubble Set section includes interviews, original work, and creative process statements by a pair of extraordinary professionals, artist Emily Gossiaux and writer Patricia Jabbeh Wesley. In their interviews, they say it perfectly. When asked how a broken person could heal, Wesley replied that “I believe that writing gives one the power to find healing … I have found my healing after decades of vulnerably exploring my pain, my anger, my grief.” Through the process of writing, Wesley has stared down the problems in life and engaged with writing to try to explain and fix them—and in doing so found healing. 

Gossiaux’s cover image, “True Love Will Find You in the End,” features two half-dog half-human beings holding hands and looking at each other. The sculpture is born out of Gossiaux’s relationship with her guide dog, London. In the interview, Gossiaux describes their relationship as “so much more than a Guide Dog [and] handler, we are each other’s protector, mother, sister, schemer, etc.” Instead of focusing on the negatives of disability, Gossiaux seeks to “change the narrative” and focus on “joy, fun, play, or pleasure.” 

These two experienced professionals in the arts live as vibrant examples of how to take what life gives you and work toward a brighter future. The student artists in fiction, poetry, and photography are getting started on their journeys—though their pieces display this mindset already. 

We hope that you will enter Mistake House with a sense of anticipation for the lessons inherent in this issue. As Jericho Brown explained, we must be unflinching. Yes, things are going wrong; but if we do not face them, they will get worse. We have an opportunity to make the world a better place. We hope that this issue of Mistake House inspires you to be a changemaker. 

~ Tobin Blair, Editor-in-Chief