Not to concede the future is an act of resistance.
Welcome to Lantern Review Issue 8.2, which we’ve named “Recoveries” after a line from antmen pimentel mendoza’s poem “Ode to the Moon, the Earth’s Only Satellite, with Years of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.” In the US, we’re now nearly eight months into quarantine, and the world continues to ache. The COVID-19 pandemic shows little signs of easing; the news brings little hope of justice for Black, Indigenous, and immigrant communities in our nation; the presidential election, with its dire stakes, rears noisily into view; and here in California, wildfire ash continues to discolor the sky. In the midst of all of this, the notion of “recovery” might seem laughable. And yet, as we put together this issue, we found ourselves returning to this very idea.
Scientists have observed that after a forest burns, edible mushrooms will often proliferate, sprouting in large numbers from the charred floor. The poems in this issue embody that same spirit of willful resistance: the forest’s first tendrils rooting from decay, soft bodies insisting upon fruiting, feeding on rain and ash, defiantly netting across the landscape so that—to borrow a phrase from Sylvia Plath—“[they will] by morning / Inherit the earth.”
Issue 8.2 opens with MICHAEL CHANG’s untitled epistolary poem, a richly textured monologue that holds space for both pleasure and repudiation, recalling the fraught nature of grief and healing: “in truth I need you like a hole in the head,” the speaker insists, powerfully reminding us that recovery is complex and intensely personal.
In Tiffany Hsieh’s “Cooking Videos,” the speaker escapes into YouTube in search of comfort and connection. In the era of COVID-19, how many of us recognize the impulse to retreat into idealized aspirational content—Tik Tok dance trends, Chloe Ting workouts, cottagecore, Dalgona coffee, sourdough starters. Hsieh invites us to consider the ways in which pleasure—yes, even bubbly, consumerist pleasure—offers refuge and catharsis in the midst of trauma.
antmen pimentel mendoza’s confessional ode originates in the personal realm, though truthfully, the speaker is not the only one “leapfrog hop[ping] from one lunacy to the next” these days. At its close, the poem becomes an invitation to imagine a bloom of new worlds, of realms with two-moon and even three-moon skies, calling us into the regenerative possibilities of our collective imagination.
Finally, Heather Nagami’s poem “Reduce the Damage” investigates resilience through a series of linguistic fragments nested in a larger grid. Drawing from the syntactic patterns of video game chats, Nagami reinvents the possibilities of poetic form through a reimagining of visual space. Ultimately, she asks: How to map and contain trauma in the face of isolation and wreckage?
Today we wake to yet another chalky, smoke-choked sky. And yet as we reckon with devastation of so many different kinds, we, like the poets in Issue 8.2, must ask how to claim the process of recovery (or indeed, of multiple recoveries) as resistance. What is the capacity of the creative imagination, and how can we reimagine our collective regeneration? To survive, to work at cultivating change and new growth—these alone are radical acts.
Peace and Light,
Iris A. Law and Mia Ayumi Malhotra
Lantern Review Editors