"there's no through trail" —Han-Shan, translated by Gary Snyder
An open letter from The NC Membership of Writers for Democratic Action Steering Committee:

We are writers.

We value truth—both the truthfulness of facts and the truth of the human heart. This is our core truth:

As citizens of a democracy, we enjoy many precious freedoms, including the freedom to express our views without fear of censorship or reprisal. To guard this and other freedoms, we wholeheartedly accept the responsibilities and duties of citizenship to our local communities, our state, and our nation.

Our most important civic duty is to vote. Voting is a fundamental right, but it is also our prime obligation as stewards of democracy. We live in a moment when democracy is under attack—not just in foreign countries, but right here in the United States America. There are too many politicians and their supporters who would rather simply take power than win it at the ballot box by persuasion and reasoned argument. They would rather many of our citizens did not exercise the right and duty to vote.

They make it difficult for certain kinds of citizens to vote, especially the young, the poor, and those in minority communities. They contort voting districts through gerrymandering to guarantee the outcomes they desire. They even seek to manipulate the process of counting and certifying ballots.

The only sure way to counter this cynical attack on our democracy is to vote—in every election, for every office. No matter how inconvenient or frustrating the process can seem, standing in line to cast our vote is the most powerful means we have to keep our democracy alive, to guarantee that the freedoms we now enjoy remain intact and that we indeed offer liberty and justice to all.

When you cast your ballot, your vote is irrevocably recorded— “booked.” It’s a simple process but crucial to our future as free citizens. So please stand with us and do your part: Book your vote!

Yours in the spirit of democracy,

The NC Membership of Writers for Democratic Action Steering Committee: Philip Gerard, Jill McCorkle, Jaki Shelton Green, Joseph Bathanti, Bland Simpson, Belle Boggs, Thomas Mills, Wiley Cash, Lynn York, Alex Albright, Margaret Bauer, Gabrielle Calvocoressi

The Time Is Now

2022 Special Issue on Identity
Volume 50

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Editor's Note

Readers, Contributors, and Friends,

Every moment of our past two years has felt heavy with the weight of the unforeseen, and we have all scrambled to find steady footing in the midst of unimaginable challenges. Life will seem to ease toward a return to normal (whatever that means), and then we are catapulted back to the stark edges of uncertainty. The fear that has been Covid-19, the drama of elections at home and abroad, the violence of invasions and war, archaic new laws targeting our LGBTQ+ loved ones, and most recently the leak of a Supreme Court draft signifying their pending decision to overturn the landmark decision Roe v. Wade.

I overheard a student yesterday, while waiting in the hallway outside a professor's door, say on the phone, "It really does feel like the whole world is in flames and I'm just out here wondering if my outfit is fire resistant."  It would have been amusing, but they weren't smiling when they said it and I didn't smile when I heard it.

They aren't wrong.

So what do we do with that? 

We could cry (which we have). We could rage and flail (we may have done that as well). We could invent new curse words to shout at the heavens (no comment). But once the energy of those initial reactions has faded, there has to be more.

Here at CMR we choose to forge forward with an even greater determination to provide a platform for those writers who seek to expose, explain, examine, or engage with the great disparities in our world and the myriad ways in which we navigate them. We have formed Cold Mountain Press, a new wing of our eco- and social-justice publishing work that will produce one book of prose and one book of poetry annually through the Cold Mountain Book Contest. In the even years we will publish fiction, in the odd years we will publish creative nonfiction, and as always we encourage submissions from un- and under published writers as well as those from marginalized communities. Submissions open on June 1. You can find more information on our Submittable page, and I hope you're inspired to send us your work.

As it stands, we must live in the present, and I am personally thrilled to share this issue with you. It is at turns mesmerizing, heartbreaking, stunning, and all kinds of fired up. Just like us. Just like you. Lean into it, if you will, and take some respite from the storm outside.

As Mary Oliver wrote, "Meanwhile the world goes on."


Katherine Abrams