By Victor D. Infante
There’s a rhythm to winter in New England, the way it transforms a day into a week, a week into a month. The way you begin to assume nothing will happen as planned, the way you’re amazed when even small things happen at all – the bus shows up on time, a class isn’t canceled. You measure time by the frequency of storms, by the accumulation of snow.
Here in Worcester, Massachusetts – the city which has received the most snow this year of any city in the Continental United States – things have been frequently grinding to a halt all season. But there’s a rhythm to that, too: At the beginning, the slightest snowfall keeps everyone inside, and even the first few flakes clear the streets. But then, after weeks of this, the New England cussedness sets in, and people find themselves undaunted, unwilling to surrender more of their lives to the winter.
It was this sort of gritted-teeth determination that led to the local poetry slam running last Sunday, despite a small amount of snow falling and a threat of more to come that night. The feature, a poet from Boston, had been unable to attend because of travel concerns – tragic, as I enjoy her work immensely – but the “spotlight” feature was a local college student, and she was able to perform . And she did, in a short, vibrant set that surprised and delighted, sharing tales of race, sex, abuse and more that bristled with energy and a fierce honesty.
The young woman was completely unfamiliar to me, but I’m glad I had the chance to discover her and her work. I hope to see more from her. It’s these sorts of surprises that continually amaze – these bright shining moments amid the frozen city – and which continue to make a life in poetry a delight, especially that’s so often not the case.
Poetry can be a cold, disheartening business – one laced with rejection and insecurity. It’s easy to question why one wastes one’s time on rearranging words on a page. Surely, there are less painful hobbies. But it’s not a hobby, is it? Not for those scribbling late into the night, trying to give shape to some sympathy rattling around in their brains. For some, it is a compulsion and a need, and that in no way makes the snow less cold.
But once in a while, you get to see something amazing – perhaps a young poet, brimming with equal measures hope and talent, that reminds you why you started in the first place.
This is the beginning of Volume Five of Radius – our fifth rotation around the sun. New England is still frigid outside, although I can hear birds outside my window that I’ve not heard in some time, which is comforting. Radius isn’t the sort of journal that ruminates much on joy. Mostly, we lean toward politics and loss. Admittedly, it can get kind of heavy sometimes, but I like to think we’re not joyless. When our writers tackle an issues such as social justice or violence, we see a sort of hope there, a spark among the snow. It’s that hope we cling to, as we wait for winter to pass.
Although our staff and contributors are spread around the world, Radius is, at its core, a New England literary journal, and is ecstatic to have five poems included in the forthcoming second volume of Best Indie Lit New England. So please, take a second to look at these amazing poems once again, and congratulate our writers for their honesty, bravery and skill:
Kevin convinced me to drink By Aaron Samuels
Family Values by Jacqueline Morrill
Conditional By Emily O’Neill
Homesong by William James
The Correspondent by Mariya Deykute
The writers who fill our digital pages are the ones that makes us what we are, and we are immensely proud to be able to present such amazing work with regularity. That writers such as these continue to support and believe in our humble project is nothing short of a gift. Thank you.