Greetings from the Editor
When my son Scott was three, he would tell me about his day at daycare, and his stories would usually take a turn toward the fantastic: “Then my boots became rockets and I went round and round the tree….,” evidencing the magical joy of a child mind. This issue of Bramble explores “the Magic of Everyday Life.” How and when do minds experience the magic of inspiration? What is the process by which thoughts turn toward the fantastic, the science fictional, and the surreal? When I chose the theme, I wanted to examine the connection between image —a representation of something real, imagination—a fantastic re-creation of experience, and magic—the recognition that there are powers beyond normal human control. All three words share the same Latin root mag. We know that the magi long ago were those who studied the sun and stars to gain insight into the meaning of life. Although the esoterics of astrology may have been a red herring, light might well have been the key.
Modern science now confirms that natural light is essential to healthy wellbeing. Spending time outside on a beautiful sunny day improves health and mood through the production of Vitamin D and serotonin in our bodies, a natural reinforcement to like what we are seeing. Thus, we are genetically predisposed to appreciate natural beauty. The sight of light filtering through maple leaves on a September day draws us outside to soak up the sun. Our bodies know that soon enough darker days will come. A June 2014 article in the Journal of Environmental Psychology suggests that “Engagement with natural beauty moderates the positive relation between connectedness with nature and psychological well-being.” Researchers Jia Wei Zhang, Ryan T. Howell, and Ravi Iyer have determined that the more we engage with the beauty of the world, the more likely we are to feel good about ourselves. It is likely that over thousands of years those who took pleasure in the world were more likely to be more reproductively successful. Pleasure reinforces pleasure. Nevertheless, popular science aside, there remains something magical about those shiny moments when the Muse transfigures everyday events with meaning beyond mundane experience, that sudden sense of Wordsworth’s “splendor in the grass” and “glory in the flower.”
The essays for this issue are reflections on the yin-yang relationship between darkness and light. In “Everyday Magic: Vision and Imagination,” Jeannie Roberts’s stunningly beautiful photographs record various aspects and perspectives of Baroque, a sculpture on the bank of the Chippewa River in downtown Eau Claire, giving us insight into how natural light affects the artistic process. In “The Magic of Everyday Images,” Candace Hennekens deftly deploys whimsy, color, and nostalgia to create paintings and collages that demonstrate how images can be combined with language to reinterpret the meaning of everyday phrases and objects. A shoe is so much more than a shoe, a teacup more than a place to put tea. Through sophisticated artistic juxtaposition, images from the past become effective tools for commenting on the process by which memory is interwoven into everyday experience. Like the essays, the fine poems chosen for this issue are celebrations of imagination and the relationship between darkness and light. Some are experimental in form. Others simply reflect good stories with finely tuned language and a twist of the unexpected. Their genres run a gamut from transcendental awe of the sublime to the science fictional and the surreal.
I’d like to thank Bramble and the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets for allowing me the pleasure of editing this issue.
Sandra Lindow is the longest serving Regional Vice President in the history of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets (1987-2017). Presently she also serves as Vice President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association, an international organization. Since 1988, Lindow has had twenty-three Rhysling nominations for the best speculative poem published during a particular calendar year. In 1990, her collection, The Heroic Housewife Papers, won the Council for Wisconsin Writers’ Posner Award for best poetry collection by a Wisconsin writer. Her poem “If Death: A Preprimer” was included in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror: 2001. In 2003 she received the Wisconsin Press Women’s Award for Poetry as well as the WFOP Triad Theme Contest first prize award. In 2004 and 2011, she won Jade Ring first prize awards in poetry from the Wisconsin Writers’ Association. In 2014, her critical book, Dancing the Tao: Le Guin and Moral Development (Cambridge Scholars, 2012) was a finalist for the Mythopoeic Award for Scholarship in Myth and Fantasy Studies. Lindow's poetry and poetry reviews can be found in Star*Line; other poetry has been published in The Ariel Anthology, The Journal of Humanistic Mathematics, New Poetry from the Midwest Asimov’s, Scifaikuest, Dreams and Nightmares, Tales of the Talisman, and The Magazine of Speculative Poetry. Her work can be found on-line in Verse Wisconsin, Word Gathering, Blue Heron Review, Strange Horizons, Riddled by Arrows and Gyroscope Review. Her most recent collection is The Hedge Witch’s Upgrade, 2012.