Avery Gordon writes: “That life is complicated is a theoretical statement that guides efforts to treat race, class, and gender dynamics and consciousness as more dense and delicate. … We need to know where we live in order to imagine living elsewhere. We need to imagine living elsewhere before we can live there.” The writers in this issue perform the important work of taking stock of our literary and social inheritances, adapting these forces to gain insight into “where we live” and to allow us to “imagine otherwise.”
All writers stand “on the shoulders of giants,” apprehending, re-making and sharing the culture that pre-exists and survives us. Sometimes these gifts shape us in ways that make us stronger. Other times, we find ourselves shaped by forces that we have to fight back against. In this issue, you will find allusions to the work of artists including Georgia O’Keeffe, Bruce Springsteen and Elizabeth Taylor. As Deborah Ross writes, some “might consider them bad company … but they certainly knew what it was all about.”
Other authors in this issue use poetry and literature to resist and to heal. Anna Warje, Ashleigh Barker, Rob Greene, Mark Blickley and Catherine Kucharski write about some of the myriad forms of violence we face, as people in an often-violent world, and as people with mental illnesses. Lee Landau, Jimmy Pappas and Lynn Miner Flynn document the sadness, overwhelm and limitation that sometimes define our living and recovery spaces. These stories are, as Leah Cappelli writes in this issue, painful and poignant. But they are also transformative, as calls to action and paths to recovery.
The Fall 2016 issue of Open Minds Quarterly features the honourable mentions from the 2016 Brainstorm Poetry Contest and new stories, meditations and poetry from 20 writers with mental health challenges.