a letter from the editors

From: The Bottom Of Our Hearts

“The world can go wrong every day” is a sentiment I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. It comes from Jim Nawrocki’s poem, “The Hex Shank,” which opens this issue, but it’s also very similar to a question I’ve been asking myself for many years—in how many more ways will society prove it isn’t for us? The “us” has and continues to be LGBTQ+ folks, people of color, immigrants, and people with disabilities or mental health challenges, among others. Groups of people who fight every day to find safety and space in a country that was never meant for us.

This issue is a first for many reasons. It’s our largest issue yet, with 41 pieces by 26 writers. Our first issue moving toward open art submissions rather than an editorially-chosen guest artist. Our first issue that includes only poetry—but we still accept and hope to publish prose in the future! In a lot of ways, as Kinsley likes to say, “You could say we’re getting the hang of this.”

It’s also our first issue that won’t be seen by one of the contributors published in its pages. On May 31, the poetry world—and, more importantly, his partner and close circle of friends—lost Jim Nawrocki. I had been familiar with Jim’s work since 2015, and I have been struck consistently by how, even in his bleakest illustrations of human interaction, there is an innate beauty and joy to be found in being alive. In having made a footprint somewhere. In coming to some sort of mutual understanding.

I hope that the words in these pages bring us closer to empathy, to action, to feeling like there’s someone else out there who gets it. The world does go wrong pretty often, but it also goes right. We can make it so.

Love to you, and to Jim, and the rest of us,
Dakota Garilli, Co-editor

It’s currently June of 2018 in Pittsburgh, PA, and rain is falling softly on an untenable back yard. I’ve been binging Parks & Rec while laying out our fourth issue of IDK Magazine, but for now, it is paused—Billy Eichner’s character has just been introduced, his face frozen in a snarl on my roommate’s very, very large flat-screen television. The episode is called “Doppelgängers,” and Billy is Retta’s foil, her counterpart, her id—or maybe it’s the other way around. Duplicates inspire comparison. Duplicates inspire competition. One thing defined in regards to the other, and then in reverse. What is the opposite of a bird? And if the bird is black? 

This time last year, no one was certain we would publish another issue. As a staff, we were tense and exhausted. Foci drifted, searching for purchse on the proliferation of personal interests. I don’t mean to say we were getting bored. No, it wasn’t that. So we took a break, like lovers, to see if time apart would help us gain clarity. Taking breaks is important, and the world tends to prioritize emergencies for us. We didn’t have an office, a schedule, or a funding institution sitting in the wings to ensure our regular future. We still don’t. We did have cats, partners, it’s complicated, hidden slights held tightly to breasts, so many moving parts with their own many arms and legs, the urge to go for a run, to write her own book. I’m sure you’ve read a novel with a listless and wandering protagonist. I started going to therapy, got dumped twice, gained a niece, and quit my job. And when Dakota and I reconvened at the end of the 2017 summer, we said yes, let’s make another, and that was that. 

Do the Dutch have a specific word for the feeling of worth associated with a stranger submiting a poem to you, feeling like just one person, to share with the rest of the world? I do not think the opposite of writer is publisher. 

As Dakota said, IDK Magazine Issue 4 is a beauty full of firsts. As a tiny team of two, we revised and revisioned our process in myriad ways: we purchased a Submittable account for the first time; we redesigned the IDK website, deconstructing each PDF issue and giving pieces their own pages to improve searchability/visibility of the work entrusted to us over all these years; we began meeting weekly, providing constructive feedback to writers who asked for it, listening with our hearts, letting our baby become what it becomes, again, a fourth time. To quote Olatunde Osinaike (Snakes and Ladders), trying again despite. To quote a frozen Billy Eichner, I loved every second of it.

Kinsley Stocum, Co-editor