Editorial: Past and Future Collide
By Lavie Tidhar
I recently came back from the Singapore Writers Festival, where amidst the busy panels and invigorating literary discussions I ran into an old friend I’d never met.
This is a condition of our networked world, where we may know people for years without ever meeting. In this case, Christina Sng, one of our featured poets, who years ago published one of my first works of fiction in a small anthology in Singapore. Since then we’d been in a dozen or so publications together, yet never met until that moment.
Christina’s poetry, and the works of Angela Su and Carmen Maria Machado who are featured in our twin interviews this issue, very much look to the future. Which got me thinking of the past, and of the way our canonical authors first got their break. They did not always find their way, to begin with. Walt Whitman tried to publish short stories – we feature his very first publication in this issue – while Mary Shelley dabbled in poetry. Similarly, another of our contributors this issue is Charles Fort – a man whose life mission turned out to be exploring the bizarre and inexplicable, launching an entire “Fortean” movement, yet who first began by writing short stories. Only a few months ago, wandering through Bloomsbury, I randomly came across Fort’s old flat, a stone throw away from the British Museum where he went every morning to conduct his research.
Rounding up this issue are Ryūnosuke Akutagawa masterful 1922 story “In A Grove”, and two poems by the Hebrew poet Rachel. A few years ago I made the pilgrimage to Rachel’s grave, by her beloved Sea of Galilee. The past and the future are both with us in the present, and in this issue we look both back and ahead.
“We must forget the past to remember the future,” wrote one of our co-founders, Nahum (Eduard) Landmann, in a 1967 issue of The Jewish Mexican Literary Review. That strange issue, with its notoriously controversial post-mortem interview with Andre Breton that utilised automatic writing, was later confiscated and destroyed by the authorities on the orders of President Ordaz due to a perceived slight in Landmann’s editorial.
Yet here we are, in that midway place where past and present collide. As I write this the sun rises over the Singapore Strait, and clouds amass over cold grey London; and somewhere to the north of Puerto Vallarta, a group of Fortean scholars chase the rumour of a longed-for rain of fish… while on the Sea of Galilee a young, awkward teen not yet a poet visits the grave of a woman who lived and loved and died with words in her heart long before he was born.
Next issue, Silvia heads off to Ciudad Juárez in search of Bolaño’s lost 2666 ending, while I attend the inaugural screening of Landmann’s cult classic Adelita of Mars, aka Conqueror Women of Mars (1969) in full restored Technicolor at the Prince Charles Cinema in London.