Editor’s Letter

First, the dedication: This issue is published in remembrance of Trayvon Martin, but in remembering him, we must also remember others. Their names could fill pages, books: Jordan Davis. Ramarley Graham. Aiyana Jones. Kimani Gray. Kendrec McDade. Ervin Jefferson. Steven Eugene Washington. Victor Steen. Wendell Allen. James Brissette. Oscar Grant. Darius Simmons.

Even if I could list every name, in my ignorance I do not know them all. They are in this way like Johnny Robinson and Virgil Ware, two young men killed by police in Birmingham in the aftermath of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, who, fifty years later, have been nearly forgotten—not that Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Denise McNair have been adequately remembered, or that we have even taken care to honor the living.    

Soon after founding Flycatcher, which originally carried the subtitle “A Journal of Native Imagination” (this is the first issue published without it), I realized that the phrase “native imagination” is something of a leap. While there are young people in this country who cannot walk safely through their own neighborhoods or sit in a car with their friends outside a gas station or even rest in their own homes without being shot and killed—to say nothing of being harassed—by those who serve the racist structure, then I don’t have much right to be worrying about whether or not I’ll ever truly belong to my place, to this world. At least I can walk to the store and make it home alive. As useful as I believe that phrase “native imagination” can be, it is also, when considered closely, a luxury, a sign of privilege.

My point, however, is not one of self-deprecation, nor is it to suggest that concerns of place and the natural world will no longer bear on Flycatcher, nor to suggest that matters of social justice have not been a part of Flycatcher from the beginning. But this issue does signify something of a shift, one perhaps most thoroughly and succinctly expressed in Martin Luther King’s credo that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Perhaps, then, it is not that I have no right to worry about whether or not I’ll ever belong to my place, but that I cannot ever belong to my place while structural, violence-sustained injustice denies that possibility to others.

This new shift—or what might actually be a growing consciousness two issues in the making—most directly appears in this issue in the visual art of Pamela Chatterton-Purdy and Bethany Collins and in the poetry of Judson Mitcham. We also see marginalized spirituality and marginalized places offering sanctuary to one another, and a general tendency in all the voices presented here to counteract the self-assured. Here is a gathering where the reader will find no refuge in easy answers, but rather in union with those who ask questions that, if attended, might give us the strength we need to overcome the weight of the many pillars that obstruct our belonging.

This issue’s title, Some Impossible Miracle, is from Jessica Purdy’s poem herein. In connecting this phrase with the themes manifested in this issue, I could not help but think of Thoreau—of course an inspiration to King—who asked in Walden, “Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant?” Though the first consequence of such a miracle would be complete empathy and therefore complete pain—we would see, for example, through the eyes of Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton beholding their dead son, and Mamie Till doing the same beside a young man who opens this issue in a fitting, iconic tribute
—it seems to be the only hope of finding, as in the issue's closing image, “something even more rare, some impossible miracle / embedded in the precipice, and flowering.”


Christopher Martin
Editor-in-Chief, Flycatcher
Davisboro, Georgia
November 29, 2013

*Banner image from Pamela Chatterton-Purdy's Icons of the Civil Rights Movement, which begins the issue    



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