Letter from the Editors

Before we celebrate the harvest, we must acknowledge that food insecurity is on the rise and that it disproportionately affects Black and Indigenous communities. That is why we invite you to give what you can to the Okra Project and the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance. The Okra Project brings home-cooked meals to Black Trans people, and the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance supports food sovereignty and security within Indigenous communities. Every contribution, no matter how small, helps.

The theme for this issue is harvest. In these ten works, you will confront capitalism while pondering grated cheese, protect an old-growth forest, attempt to fill a hole inside you with a stolen bag of cherries. You’ll catch glimpses of our world through a curious trio of records, and you’ll prospect for gold in unlikely places. This issue digs into hard dirt and invokes an ordained circle. It finds home in an acorn and terror in a deer. The work here is loamy and visceral, full of tastes, textures, and scents that carry memory, comfort, fear.

The word muscular gets thrown around a lot, but it fits these ten pieces, wide-ranging as they are in. These are works that pick you up and carry you, and don’t we all need to be carried now? It’s a muscular act to create right now. The U.S. election is in two days; most of these pieces were likely written under the weight of a pandemic, an economic crisis, and an urgent call for racial equity and, as such, they carry that context on their gleaming shoulders.

There’s a lovely line from Tennessee Williams: “The violets in the mountains have broken through the rocks.”

Maybe you haven’t written in a while. Maybe you’re soul-tired, and your body aches. The theme for this issue is harvest, but before the harvest, there is a planting. There is a taking root before a springing forth, and we don’t always see what’s happening in the fissures of seemingly impenetrable rocks.

Maybe you’re not harvesting now. Not reaping what you sow. Maybe you’re wondering what the holiday season will look like this year, what feast is worth cooking when your table is set for one. Let this harvest issue be your invitation to trust that seeds are being planted, that violets will—in their soft and fragile nature, yes—break through the rocks. 

On the VS Podcast, Danez Smith and Franny Choi recently discussed how, when they are not writing, they are consuming art, and that is also part of the creative process. So, here is your table. Dig in.