Winter 2020

 

Borders, put simply, are the lines between things—and lately, the lines between things seem to be working awfully hard to convince us of their necessity. What would happen without us? they insist. Chaos, they threaten. Chaos, they mouth again for effect. We hoped with this issue to interrogate those lines, to imagine them differently, and to ultimately erase them. We hoped to call their bluff. Maybe we wanted a little chaos.

What we found instead was different: In some places, the lines didn’t just disappear—they sort of…melted. In others, like telephone wire, they left little ridges where they were buried. Others sort of blurred with edges illumined in glowy static, to borrow from Aimee Seu. Still others bled like watercolors into something new and prettier, more vapor or wisp than line in their new state. Which is to say, looking at the spectrum of work in this issue, this process of un-bordering turned out to be more time-lapse than polaroid. Here we were buying tickets to a free-for-all but parting the curtains to find an intricate dissolve. Thank you, writers, for this revelation.

An editorial team too can be a many bordered thing. We found ourselves, at different points, clinging to our old ways. We romanticized the easy comforts of division, genre conventions, of neat little labeled compartments. We divided our possessions, split the floor with masking tape, forbid the other side to cross. We died on hills. But when that tape finally came up, as it did with each piece here, with that wonderful tape sound it makes when you get a nice long strip of it all in one piece, the room was always one big whole again, the borders were gone, and we were back in the shape of something bigger than who we were all alone. Thank you, team, for that.

Because that may be the ultimate mission of this borderlessness issue, after all, though we didn’t realize it at the time: to create a here without a there--to pull up the tape, to erase the lines, to melt the borders between these writers’ voices and to say, in that melting: Here. Here we all are. Here we all are together. Listen to this.

—MH


 

Creative Nonfiction

Dave Harrity - Et in Arcadia Ego

 

Fiction

Michael Alessi - Shrimp of the Dirt 

Kelsey Rexroat - Human Tide

Borderless

Matt Muilenburg - Scoopers

Daniel Garcia - A Night to Remember

Aliza Ali Khan - Listen

Sue D. Burton - Sand & Ostrich at the Beach

Candice Wuehle - frottuer 0

This project is partially supported by the Illinois Arts Council

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  © Ninth Letter, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.