There comes a point, in the course of publishing a literary journal, where you look back and begin to see some of the underlying themes that you’ve been reaching for, the ones you couldn’t articulate at first, but which were nonetheless there all the time.

Looking back at the past year of Radius, one of those themes became abundantly clear, the small heartbreak at the soul of political discord: That — no matter how often we fool ourselves otherwise — we largely remain strangers to one another. Sometimes, this manifests itself as fear and anger, the consequences of which are self-evident. Sometimes — and maybe worse — we do damage to one another because we pretend we understand more about each other than we actually do.

Sometimes, the chasms between us are readily apparent, matters of race, gender, religion and culture that have been with us for centuries. Sometimes, they’re more ephemeral. Even those of us who choose a life in writing aren’t above it, dividing ourselves along lines of genre and minor differences in outlook — as though those were great things — unconsciously aping the fractures that surround us. We writers are no different than anybody else, after all. And maybe that’s a tragedy. Or maybe it’s the tragedy that — coupled with skill, craft and imagination — allows us to speak to the wounds with any authority. We’re only human. There’s no dishonor in that.

With that in mind, these are our 2012 Pushcart Prize nominees:



The last nominee, of course, is us being a bit … forward … but we said, when we first published that essay, that we were serious about wanting to have a discussion about the issues of class and hierarchy within the Pushcart Prize itself and elsewhere in the literary community, and we can think of no better way to initiate that conversation than to deliver our thoughts straight to the people behind the awards themselves.

But that aside, these are poems and essays that, we feel, speak to the divides and pervasive sense of otherness between us all — in our politics, our communities, our professions and, finally, within ourselves. Moreover, whatever fear and anger these writers have found in the course of their excavations, we feel that these poems and essays are, ultimately, hopeful — all marked by a belief that we don’t have to live in shadows from one another. But the first steps toward healing any of those wounds is to speak honestly, and to listen.

We dearly hope you listen to what these writers have to say.