The New Quarterly’s List Issue has arrived on my doorstep and it’s completely gorgeous. (True, my own listy piece is included, but even so, and even if it weren’t, it has to be said: the thing is a work of art—the cover, layout, design.)
And, yes, the contents. Who knew (Diane Schoemperlen, that’s who) that lists could evoke so much and in so many ways?
There are found poems from lists, lists written on the backs of things—regrets on a black and white snapshot from the 50’s—and on a Good & Fruity box, the contents of a pocket enroute to jail. There’s a list of things taken to a nursing home to visit a mother (so simple and stark and perfect it made my eyes water).
A collection of lists found in a large purse; drawings and random jottings; glossy pages of collage, photographs, observations— things that otherwise get missed because they’re tiny and ordinary, seemingly insignificant and therefore don’t merit a whole story—but fashion them into a list and you realize they are a whole story.
The cover art and collage pages inside are done by Diane Schoemperlen (who also guest edited the issue), as is a piece titled ‘A Nervous Race: 22 Brief Notes on the Study of Nature, Human and Otherwise’— which begins:
“This is not exactly a story. It is a construction or a deconstruction or a reconstruction (or maybe all three). I did not exactly write these lines. I discovered them (like a continent), mined them (like gold or coal or potash), unearthed them (like bones), excavated them (like archaeological artifacts), solved them (like a crossword puzzle), deciphered them (like a secret code), erected them (like a building or a flag), organized them (like a filing cabinet or a clothes closet), choreographed them (like a ballet or maybe a barn dance), arranged them (like a symphony or a bouquet of flowers). Let me explain.”
And then she does. And, frankly, if there were nothing else between the covers but this and the collage, it would still be an amazing and beautiful issue.
The launch is tomorrow in Kingston. (Oh to be in Kingston in the Spring!)