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22 February 2022/21 Adar I 5782

 Dear friends and fellow poets,
                                                   We are happy
To tell you that our eighteenth issue now
Is at the printers and already visible
Eighteen in Hebrew is a special number
The letters of the word "life", changed to numbers
Add to 18 and this time we have felt
Engaged with something more than usually
Vital a spring of energy amidst
The landscape of entropic happenings
In which we've suffered for the last two years,
Whereby the plague appeared as proximate
And partial cause if not in fact a symptom
(Inflicted by colluding interests,
According to some dark interpretations)
Of a more general disintegration.
"Everything's broken," wrote an editor
Of a magazine to whom we sent a letter
Urging her ponder that the relegation
Of poetry, which makes for integration,
To a cultural sidetrack, had some part in this
Disorder, and the fixing of this flaw
Might be a step toward rehabilitation.
The letter's posted on our website, here;
That editor (of course?) returned no answer.
But in these pages we have tried to summon
A unifying spirit. We requested
Poems inspired by other poems; these
Are gathered in the section "ConVERSEations"
Mainly; a few are placed in other sections
Which treat of our somewhat plague-altered seasons,
The people Israel's perennial struggle,
"Love's perils," and diverse trajectories
Of thought and action in this turbulent world.
We hope this gathering of present speakers
Accompanied by the voices of the past
May serve to reinforce an understanding
That though the poets write in solitude
We do not write alone, but in the presence
Of those who walk before us and beside us,
And that whatever stands we take, we stand
For speech that is not disingenuous "discourse"
But voicing of our joint and several plight.

What will be the sequel to this issue,
if we are spared until this time next year?
What theme shall we announce?
Perhaps the same --
The ancestors have not done speaking with us,
Surely, about the world whose roots they see --
Or perhaps something different. Not an issue
Gathered from voices separate, after all,
But rather something one might call "proceedings"
Of that College of Bards which the Romantics
Sometimes evoked. They, in the early days
Of that great uproar of the Inanimate
That hides Man in the shade of the Machine,
Had glimmerings of a common cause and mission,
And, rising to it, felt within them stir
The love of kindred minds. Wordsworth and Coleridge
Almost began the Poetic Revolution
For which the Industrial one, unconscious, called,
But failed to bring it into consciousness
And fell apart. But it is not too late
To try again, perhaps with inspiration
From Israel's collegial tradition.
Here is one possible approach: consider,
(Poet), our Contributors Exchange,
Pick one or two poets for whom you feel
Affinity, and read a book of theirs!
Then, write to them. We'll pass the message on.
For such exchanges we will hold a space
At our next gathering, in whatever form.
Meanwhile, enjoy this issue! Whether viewed
Upon the screen or turned by hands, may its pages
Bear witness to our presence to each other
regardless of all distancing decrees.

Wishing you health and a season of renewal
Esther Cameron
Mindy Aber Barad Golembo