We’re delighted to announce the new print issue of Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art. Columbia Journal’s Issue 56 features fiction by Naomi Williams, poetry by Rosebud Ben-Oni and Jason Schneiderman, translations of Victor Pelevin and Motuo Baby, and written works by David Wojnarowicz, and more! This issue is one of our most exciting yet.
The Issue 56 team thanks its many editors and staff members, the Columbia Writing Program faculty, our Winter Contest judges—Valeria Luiselli (nonfiction), Karan Mahajan (fiction), and Bianca Stone (poetry)—and, of course, our readers for all their support and encouragement.
For more about this issue, read our Editor’s Note below.
When the issue 56 Journal team first gathered together, a year before sending our print publication to press, we decided to craft the journal with an eye towards work that transgresses various boundaries.
You’ll find pieces in the pages of issue 56 that cross many lines. A ghost story where characters move between body and spirit. Several poems that push the form of the printed page, playing with the limits of language. An art project that invites participants to create their own floating society. New poetry translations that provide a glimpse into the lives of workers in Cuba and China. Essays that confront the walls within the literary establishment, and share observations from the border between the U.S. and Mexico. We also printed excerpts from two online features that examine activism and feminism through protest and publishing, which can be read in full right here on columbiajournal.org.
Columbia Journal is also honored to share in issue 56 two previously unpublished poems by artist David Wojnarowicz, “Distance on the River is a Play of Light and Change” and “History Keeps Me Awake Some Nights.”
When selecting a cover artist whose work aesthetically encapsulated themes and tensions from the new literature we’re publishing here, Mamadi Doumbouya’s photographs immediately came to mind. The boldly expressive color in his portraits is at once strong and reflective, resilient and hopeful. Doumbouya’s images communicate the ineffable: the way one can feel after reading a powerful story, essay, or poem. We’re proud to have his images standing alongside the Journal’s other subversive and innovative cover artists, like Alison Bechdel and Kara Walker.
All of the work in these pages serves as a reminder that every larger cultural movement or news narrative is made up of a multitude of individual experiences, and that these experiential stories are often best understood and felt through literature and art. While history has kept me (and perhaps you as well) awake more nights than usual lately, at some point we must dream. When I dream, I dream of a world where so many boundaries have been transgressed that they begin to disappear, dissolve, be rendered irrelevant. And I believe that writing, making, or reading towards that world is one way to move us all forward.
Editor-in-Chief, Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art, Issue 56