Green Hills Literary Lantern




Preface to Volume XXXI

In the plague year.
We’re on an annual cycle. We have already begun reviewing mss for the next issue. We accepted the first texts for the present number a year ago; I remember the time well, because I was on a very enjoyable family trip and … wasn’t July 2019 a thousand years ago?
As it happens, none of the poems or stories in GHLL XXXI foregrounds COVID-19. Beginning about April, we began to see a few things in the submissions, but not a lot.
Our poets meditate on doors, which were here long before the illness arrived and will continue to be natural metaphors long after … whatever “after” looks like. It will look like being on the other side of a door.
They write about hot, still days (I remember a passage in Huckleberry Finn about such a day, as Huck approaches Uncle Silas’ farm for the first time, and I was moved by how well that description, a hundred years old, captured the enduring reality). Ditto honeybees, cracked crockery.
Our storytellers tell tales. Fathers and sons, schoolyard envy, loss in youth, loss in age.
Our writers? A physician, a nun, an antiques-dealer, an attorney, a prison-guard. Students and professors. A museum curator. They are from India, the Ukraine, the Philippines, and someplace pretty near you. We have first time writers (that is part of our mission) and we have senior wordsmiths retiring this year, or long since.
It all feels a little Canterbury-ish, actually: “… sondry folk, by aventure yfalle in felaweshipe.” And pilgrims are we all. Chaucer was putting that book together in the 1380s, hardly a generation after the Black Death, and yet he scarcely mentions it (or the cataclysmic wars that swept Europe as an indirect result). He is focused on human experience, in its endless variety, always the same, eternally new. “Diverse folk diversely they seyde, but for the moore part they loughe and pleyde.”
We’re on an annual cycle.
We’re on a perennial cycle.
Come and take a turn with us.
Kirksville, July 2020