letters from the editor

Issue 1


Welcome to the inaugural launch of this Pea River journey. I have long been inspired by the poetry of red dirt roads and slow talks on porches. I hope you will experience this issue as a sort of conversation, the two of us on a porch somewhere sipping a cold drink on a long hot night, the curtains flirting through the open window. Inside the living room people whisper stories; Steve Coffman remembers rivers in Viet Nam, and Sam Williams imagines the story of a man carrying dynamite on a horse-drawn wagon. The photographers arrive with their veil of images: stories of lakes, of finding new selves in new flats, of hands and books and frames. The night pulses with desire and memory. Our poets arrive from the Babel of experience, southern and urban and rural and true. The issue closes with a series of interviews with poets, writers, and artists. I asked the same questions of each person, but as you know it is all in the interaction, so each interview is beautifully unique.

This is where we live, at the intersection of nothing and everything. Come on in.

March 2013


Issue 2


Just eight months ago, we released a little animal, Pea River’s first issue, into the wild. It was wounded and healed, loved and discarded, fulfilled and yearning. Lost. And found.

And here is its companion: stories of people who might be confused or deluded but emerge tempered and, as it sometimes goes, wiser. Images like literal layers of perception. More than 70 poems. It is not an easy read, but then again easy is not what we promised.

You write it as you read it, remember the details as your own, see the houses and cars and porch lights and tail lights and know we are both waiting for you and already gone.

November 2013


Issue 3


When we issued the call for this themed issue, we had a set of ideas for what the burden of home might be. It is too easy to say home is not a dot on a map, attached less to geography and linked more to experience, love, loss, and the heart. The burdens of home have little to do with where we hang our hats. In most cases, the hat-hook has either rusted away or been torn from the figurative walls. So what is it, this burden? The contributors interrogate the idea of home and its burdens on the road, in returns, in leavings, in loss, in reconnection, in knowing theirs could be the next bus out, in leaping into the rivers of their fear, even in setting fire to what is left. We love every piece in this issue. We know you will, too.

September 2014


Special issue: Remaking Moby-Dick


The curator’s statement for a project as ambitious as this one should open as a sort of hymn to Melville. We thank you, oh Mighty, for the inspiration, for the gift of a wondrous starting point, for producing work ineffable enough that any single response only confounds our attempt to respond, work that requires multivocality and noise and a certain kind of rough handling. It should open that way. And that hymn is a good one, the one this project sings in every word and image.

But instead of a hymn, I have process and project management confessions. The Remaking Moby-Dick project was conceived as a collaborative, participatory international multimodal storytelling performance to be instigated and enacted in 2013. The 135 chapters, along with the extracts, inscription, epigraph, and epilogue, of Herman Melville’s 1851 novel served as prompts for responsive work created in multiple forms. In the fall of 2012, when Lissa Holloway- Attaway and I first discussed this project, my conception of it was concrete. Melville’s novel — words on pages — would become videos, images, and sounds. We were planning a post-text project. We would issue a call, and the makers of these new responses would line up, one maker for each chapter of the novel. We would have a simple naming convention, a single place to upload and share our work, a perfect daisy-petalled network, with curator and project coordinator at the center, admiring everything.

And of course nothing like that happened.

We drafted and released a call, to a tepid response. I launched a blog, with a handful of possibly-bot followers. And I kept trying. I contacted everyone I knew, researched any project related to Moby-Dick, looked at every Moby-Dick- related Kickstarter, reached out and reached out again. And the questions started coming, and then the contributions, but almost none of them, for months and months none of them, in video form. Beautiful contributions and remakings arrived in my inbox and via Submittable, all of them text: poems, essays, stories, creative nonfiction. We were presenting the project as a streaming film at a media festival in May of 2013, and by then we had dozens of videos, some of them created from text remakings.

But what to do with the text.

I considered keeping each type of artifact separate, text with text, video with video, sound with sound. A book of text, a YouTube playlist, a Soundcloud collection, all linked to the blog. YouTube and Soundcloud can only do so much. But text is too narrow a conception of what a book can do. So I decided to roll everything into the book.

You’re holding the most-complete collection of almost every artifact contributed to the Remaking Moby-Dick project through the middle of November 2013. This print version of the project is a sort of group exhibition of 80 writers, artists, and computer programs responding to Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. Works in this print exhibition catalogue range from text to painting to image to video back to machine text. Thee chapters are arranged in Melville’s order, and the artifacts created for or contributed as a remaking of each chapter are organized thus. Text contributions are offered in their traditional form. Some contributors created images, from the original painting that graces our cover to the photographs shot for each chapter to the assemblages of found image and remade text. Video contributions have a dual face: a grayscale screenshot and the QR code to direct you to the video’s location online. Some chapters are remade by machine, as poems or wordclouds or word-images. Melville’s text is, at some level, about the disastrous machine obsession can become, how something so finely wrought as man can clash, and then merge, with the blind and blinding force of unknowable things. So our cover is man- made, finely wrought, on its front and pixelated on its back, the yin and yang of the human condition and its digital complement. And inside, finely wrought text coincides with machine text, the digital photograph with the cut-up image, stanzas with wordclouds, a delicious transmedia tension.

Remaking Moby-Dick is a labor of love with a cast of hundreds. The work in your hands is beautiful, and challenging, and necessary. I am humbled to have been the one urging it on and then assembling its many parts. Each of the contributors has created something new for this project. Some of the remakers have created multiple pieces. Some of the remakers are long-time lovers of Melville; others have read only a few chapters. But what they have created, what we have created together, is singular. I hope you love it.

I am grateful to Lissa Holloway-Attaway and Torun Ekstrand for their support and encouragement throughout the process, and for support from EU Artline South Baltic Programme, without which the project would not have been possible.

November 2013



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