I’d like to start by expressing what a true honor it is to be Editor-in-Chief of Blue Mesa Review for this upcoming academic year. Likely, this year is bound to look very different, as the country reopens and readjusts to new norms. Social-distancing. Masks. Shorter work days? All we can predict is unpredictability. At BMR, we promise to keep a safe distance while still consistently reaching you on the deepest of levels with the creative works we publish biannually.
A little about me. I’m a University of New Mexico alum with lots of BMR experience. In my third semester as an undergrad, I was generously approached by my dear friend and mentor, Marisa Clark, about volunteering as a reader. This was Spring 2009, before our digital issues were produced, back when we received submissions through US mail, in large, tan envelopes. Once, maybe twice a week, we’d sit with our coffee, in front of an actual slush pile, ready to mark Y, N or Maybe on the printed manuscripts. (Thank God for Submittable!) I looked forward to those meetings. Discovering publishable work exhilarated me, like unearthing shiny gold from rock. I aspired to be on the BMR editorial board one day, should I get the chance.
In my first semester as an MFA, I signed up as a grad reader. The following year, I was elected Fiction Editor, a challenging role I learned plenty from. Now in my third year, I’m taking on EIC duties, which both excites me and terrifies me. And humbles me. Founded by local great Rudolfo Anaya, and featuring some of our most accomplished regional literary giants, BMR has an amplified voice, and a regional legacy to uphold. Not to mention our exceptional last two issues, which featured an interview with Mr. Anaya himself, and the work of US poet Laureate Joy Harjo, in back-to-back issues. No pressure, right?
Things are undeniably unstable, nationally and globally. Our world, as we knew it just months ago, is likely forever changed. And after the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, people are angry, justifiably, ready to set the whole damn thing ablaze. I don’t blame them. I’m pissed too. As writers, it is our job to advocate for change with dangerous ideas. We ignite fires to pages using words to fuel the flames, applying breath and friction for the spark. Many words accurately describe the current state of things: fear, pandemic, lockdown, protest, inequality. The word quarantine is common household language now, understood by children, as typical as hello and goodbye. Another one: unprecedented. Everywhere, on social media, ad campaigns and news coverage, we hear about these unprecedented times. We encounter these phrases with such regularity, it seems reading and hearing them have a pointed, deliberate purpose.
The rapper Immortal Technique often reminds us that we tend to give-in to oppressors when we feel unsafe and afraid. With that in mind, it’s important, now more than ever, to move against the tide and dissent from rhetoric designed to incite paranoia. Fear is an enemy of the rational mind.
If you have flames to ignite and fires of your own to spark, and you need a safe space to do it, send in your work – that’s why we’re here. To provide you a venue where you can set fire to your frustrations, burning them down like a house of cards. We want truth, your truth, and we need to hear it. If you write poetry or prose that refers to the quarantine, or the recent police protests, we are interested in your perspective. But regardless of the nature of your work, we want your submissions. At BMR, powerful writing is what keeps our world turning.
I leave you with this from the great 19th century chemist, Marie Curie, a quote I’ve held close during these tumultuous times: “Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”
Blue Mesa Review, Editor-in-Chief