If the 1918 pandemic gave us the Roaring Twenties, what sort of era will the coronavirus pandemic bring about? Now that we seem to finally be emerging from COVID’s darkness and isolation, how will society be permanently altered, as well as our hearts and minds?
I have no idea. For now, it’s summer, my masks are in a drawer somewhere, my vaccination card is paperclipped to my passport, my vacation tickets are booked! I am headed to the beach after my kids return from camp (camp!), I’m going to kiss my parents when I see them and double-dip in their guacamole because they’re vaccinated too! I’ll eat inside or outside, anywhere the host or hostess wants to seat me, thanks, and I’ll sneeze without fear or shame in either. I love you all, and I’m going to hug you if you give me permission, maybe I’ll even catch your cold. If it feels as if this summer is the first summer of the rest of your life, that’s because it is.
Speaking of firsts, the new issue is full of them. We welcome poetry from first-time contributors Victoria Chang, Kwame Dawes, Phillip B. Williams, and Emily Jungmin Yoon. Subscribers also get a first look at Stephanie McCarter’s translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses (the first verse translation by an American woman, which is coming out in 2022 from Penguin Classics), as well as new poetry from Michael Shewmaker. Our nonfiction contributors, Ryan Bradley and Katie Moulton, are new to our pages. So, too, are fiction writers Taryn Bowe, Buku Sarkar, and Alanna Shubach. This issue also includes the third stories we’ve published by Lea Carpenter and Jen Logan Meyer, and we are thrilled to have their work in our magazine once more. Finally, we have a craft essay by Michael Robbins, whose poem “The Seasons,” from his fantastic new collection Walkman, we were fortunate to publish in the Winter issue.
So yes, keep washing your hands, maintain social distance when advisable, beware of variants, but get outside. Go to the pool. Lie in the sun. No tanlines this year below the top half of your nose, thank God (and science!). And make sure to bring your copy of the Sewanee Review to the beach.