An anthology compiled in the midst of a global pandemic is a strange sort of artifact. On one hand, it houses the incongruous, irreducible truths that are placed side by side and forced into cohabitation. On the other, an anthology is an oddly familiar object, testifying to the many disparate lives all around us, also navigating the tempests just outside of the windows. It records and preserves some of the stories and poems that were written by people of our times. As a document, then, an anthology is unavoidably communal, boasting our similarities, calling out our differences, and recognizing our ambiguities. It brings forth different voices, united by their written proximity. Anthologies are bonfires of sorts. They call us over, sit us down, and make us talk with one another.
Over four months have passed since I began working with V Press LC on Running with Water 2021. Submissions came in from twenty-eight different states and two different countries. Unsurprisingly, around the writings that carried us through the many rounds of readings, a community gradually formed. In some pieces, we encounter foreign cities; in others, we traverse the natural world. Some of these writings tell of love, love break, or broken memories. Many discuss health, physical or mental, or the lack of either. Others stand testimony to those who are no longer with us. But these stories persevere between the covers. They remain held up by their community of writers, small presses, and you, the readers.
The team has gone through extraordinary efforts to publish this anthology. Torie Amarie Dale, founder and Director of V Press LC, read through each and every text, cradling words at odd hours and enthusiastically discussing the metaphors and similes running off of the pages. Despite navigating lockdown and curfews, our editors, Irena Tervo, Mary-Faith Martinez, Gabri Lafratta, and Hannah Allen, all working remotely, have meticulously read, commented, reread, and debated these texts to cultivate those pieces that inspired us most. I feel tremendously lucky to have been a part of this team and to be able to document some of the creativity of our difficult era. Thank you, to our wonderful authors for braving the world with their words. And thank you to our readers for joining the community and listening to their stories. ~ L.B.S.