editor’s note


Are you kidding? I don’t have time to write an editor’s note!

Instead I’ll just treat this like a blog, like the one soon to be found on the, finally, redesigned, newly synthesized Fence/Fence Books website. The Fence website hasn’t changed its basic form/function since it was first launched, in 1998; to say that it is overdue for an overhaul would be to say more than a mouthful. A lot has changed in these nine years.

A lot has changed in these nine years. I’ll just spew some insanely useful and appropriate clichés right here: The more things change, the more they stay the same. What goes around, comes around. What goes up, must come down. I haven’t slept more than twelve hours out of the last thirty-six, so I feel a certain sense of entitlement.

My subject here is, as it has often been in the past, the material reality of putting out a literary journal. For the past three or four years, the responsibility for dotting the i’s and p’s and q’s of Fence had fallen out of my grateful hands and into the capable ones of coeditor Charles Valle. Now, with the move up to Albany I’ve been happy to relieve him, and now, though I am exhausted and addled, I am happy to say that I’ve had my hands all over every inch of this literary journal.

If you find errors, typographical or otherwise: It is my fault. If you take umbrage or pause at content: Send me an email. Or post on the blog, assuming it exists.

I’ve never been crafty. When I was a child I learned to knit, but knitting never seemed simple; I always felt a kind of weighty confusion as I sat there dropping stitch after stitch, creating hole after hole. Sometimes I didn’t understand how the hole had happened, even though it was quite obvious. It’s not magic: It’s handicraft. But the logic of hand and eye falls apart for me too fast for satisfaction to kick in.

Presumably for similar reasons, I’ve always been slightly bibliophobic. I do not mean that I don’t like to read books, but rather that I don’t like to make books—the handmade kind, the kind roughhewn of bumpy paper with threads in it, the kind sewn together or stapled or sprung on a mousetrap. I do like to read books, but generally I like to give them away to the Salvation Army after I’ve read them: It’s not the book itself I like, but the words in it. I love to make Fence Books books, but never in a million years would I have thought to do it if desktop publishing hadn’t come along and sat down in my lap.

All this just to say: Making Fence, a severely electronic activity, one in which I sit on my ass for days and days going click-click-click, may be the closest I’ll ever get to handiwork.

In the final throes of the making of this issue of Fence, I have come to see that it is a rather gloomy one. Never mind the images of turn-of-the-century Chinese Hell; herein you will find ultra-realistic depictions of upper middle class married life! And unrealistic depictions of same. While our poets tend toward apocalypse or at the very least finality. For those who find it a bit of a downer, may I recommend you speedily to our three pieces of Other (a new category in which we put everything that is not Poetry or Fiction): life-giving poetry exercises, a literal metamorphosis, and a woman who really loves to pet her dog.