As Austin Kleon says, “There’s no pressure when you’re unknown. You can do what you want. Experiment. Do things just for the fun of it. When you’re unknown, there’s nothing to distract you from getting better. No public image to manage. No huge paycheck on the line. You’ll never get that freedom back again once people start paying you attention.” That’s no longer as true as it was six months ago. During the holidays, something incredible happened. In a one-week period, we got a flood of submissions. It was clear Five South was no longer a low-key hobby. It was time to step it up.
In January, we brought on three readers, an intern, and a fiction editor. Suddenly, it wasn’t just Cass and me anymore. I had to gather my resources, build infrastructure quickly, and make sure the team had what they needed to be successful. It all happened faster than two rabbits on a date.
Issue Two is a collaborative effort. We are fortunate to have such clever and kind people working with us. Sometimes I can’t believe it’s happening. It’s an expression of our dedication to the art of writing and our deep love of reading. We’re a sundry team bringing many different perspectives to the table. This issue is the culmination of our experiences and talents from all over the world. From India and Australia to the west and east coasts. So much care and consideration have been put into this issue, and I hope it shows.
What delights me most about this issue is the collection we’ve all come up with together. “God Save the Forest” by Ashia Ajani might make you angry or sad. “Poky’s Levitating Grandmother” by Jonathan Baker might fill you with wonder and Lucy Zhang's “No Cure” might make you cringe, but it might also change your perspective. Our Fiction Editor, Mina, has an amazing eye for great voices that others might miss. Take a look at our authors page, read their bios, and follow them on social media. Our Poetry Editor, Cass Garison, was interviewed at Frontier Poetry. Cass is a visionary with an innate talent for cultivating and connecting a diverse chorus of stunning poets.
The beauty of Five South is you can read a few poems while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil and then read a short story while you sip a hot cup of Oolong. If you take the train to work every day, you can probably read the whole issue on your way in. Or how about two short pieces and two poems on your lunch break? OK. You get it. It’s what’s I love most about short fiction and poetry. It’s perfect for busy folks who need a quick escape.
Each written piece is accompanied by a glorious work of art created by a variety of artists curated by Russ Rubin, our Guest Art Director. It was lovely working with Russ and seeing the different ways he imagined these stories and put images to words. Make sure you click on each one and get a good look and explore the artist’s websites.
Working with our new team has been the motivational shot of espresso I’ve needed for a long time. We have marvelous things planned including a podcast, our upgraded newsletters, a new Weekly flash and poetry section, and a non-fiction blog. The year has already been a whirlwind and it’s barely March. We may not be totally out of obscurity yet, but Issue Two feels like a herald of good things to come.
Thanks, virtual hugs, and long-distance high fives to the extraordinary Issue Two team: Cass, Mina, Luke, Lauren, Ajay, and Ash. To our guest art director Russ, who has brought color to our world. To all the artists who permitted us to showcase their beautiful images, I’m in awe of your sublime spirits. To all our authors and poets, who turned dreams into prose and pain into verse, we’re thrilled we get to share your stories with the world. To every single reader, without you, we’re just talking to ourselves, so thank you for making us feel less alone in a shuttered world. Finally, thank you to Minna Proctor at Fairleigh-Dickinson University for making us a part of your interns project. It was a lot of fun and we hope we can do it again next semester!