Editor's Note - Fall 2021

Dear Reader,

Every issue of Five South not only represents the mindsets of our writers but the world at large. So, what’s on everyone’s minds? Besides, the obvious (for posterity: lockdowns, pandemics, variants, the U.S. southern border, Afghanistan, and why the competition show Alter Ego is necessary in life). Then, of course, we’re all wondering why 1980s dystopian movies are becoming historical documentaries, but I digress. These are strange times and fiction and poetry are mirrors to that strangeness, but also offer a respite.

Even when a story takes place in the 1950s and is about an unlikely friendship between a convict and a bounty hunter, it translates to now. Perhaps, author Rick Stein imagines the rain symbolizes what we all need: a cleansing. The harsh weather in A Cool Breeze in August expresses the Gordian uncertainty we’ve all felt the last two years.

Fiction and poetry are analogies, are they not? Stories like Gnome Solution by Jasmine Sawers, while outwardly alarming, are meaningful pieces about the here and now. It’s part bewilderment, but ultimately a desire for rest and companionship.

Poems like Moon Landing by Erin Carlyle take us from the ordinary to quiet rural nights under the stars and deep into memory. Having a Baby at 43 by Debora Kuan gets honest about women’s reproductive challenges in their middle years because even in a pandemic, people continue to have other worries. Brief Holiday by Gordon Taylor reminds us how lucky we all are.

Literature often looks to the past while attempting to make sense of the present. Fiction pieces like Third Kidney, Side Gate, Cross on the Highway, and Back to School–– all deal with familial relationships–something we’ve all had stripped from us––and loss. Nearly every single person on this planet was unable to see their kin for long periods. So maybe stories like Side Gate are about watching your kid get older as you get older, but there is also gratitude in the text. Are we keener to these gifts now than we were in 2019? Maybe a little, but they still cast long shadows.

We all tend to look back with rose colored lenses when times are tough. But like lockdowns and masks, it’s inescapable and occasionally overwhelming. Maybe things weren’t easier in the beforetimes, but at least you could go to the movies once in a while. There is an inherent sadness in this issue, but it’s kind of how we all feel right now. What’s beautiful about literature and finding stories like the ones in Issue 3 is we’re able to commiserate. Someone out there feels rotten like I do. Yet, there is hope, transition, and a sense of completion in many of the pieces. Is it possible our dark days are nearing an end? Will Issue 4 be lighthearted and optimistic?

Behind the scenes, the summer/fall reading season has been one of the most fulfilling of my humble career. Five South has quickly grown from four teammates to nearly twenty. Every brilliant member of the Five South crew cares deeply about the pieces they select. Choosing from thousands of submissions every season is no easy feat, and I’ve watched our readers place great emphasis on their picks. What we’re doing here matters and it speaks to the times in a universal and timeless way. I am grateful for the dedication I see from Arthur, Alvine, Lauren, Natasha, Aldas, Jillian, Alissa, Kaedi, and Terri. They make this whole thing worth it. Our poetry editor, K.D., is one in a million. It’s safe to say this issue would not have happened without her encouragement, long hours, and irrepressible fire. The pieces she chose for this issue both touch your heart and make you think; what poetry is supposed to do. Our associate editor, Luke, has taken The Weekly by the reins and is helping drive that baby to glory with his humor, insight, and vital cheerfulness. Mina, our editor-at-large, has brought depth to our new non-fiction section with her thoughtful interviews. Her warmth and passion are indispensable. Our new fiction editor, Andy, jumped into the Five South fast lane with sincerity and courage. He handles each challenge with the intellect and tenacity of a starship captain. And finally, thank you to Gabriela Knutson for her wonderful images that accompany the written works in Issue Three. They are a feast for the soul. Make sure to check out the gallery page.

I couldn’t have asked for a better group of readers, writers, and editors to ride down the Five South with. I am proud of this issue and I hope you, our dear readers, find what you’re looking for within these digital pages.


Kristen Simental


Recent Posts

See All