On Aesthetics

We believe there’s no right way to read a work of art. We’re interested in work that leaves space for the reader, that lends itself to a multiplicity of interpretations. We want complexity (even when it’s masking itself as simplicity). We want nuance and subtlety. We want stories and poems and essays that inspire empathy and discussion and thought. We prefer depth to flash or artifice. To crib from our mascot, we like work with many arms, that you might come upon unexpectedly in dark crevices, with the tides rising and falling and pulling all around. We are agnostic in terms of “genre.” We love work that experiments with style, we love the fabulous and fantastical, and we love work that deals with nature, perception, dream, and vision, whether such work chooses to call itself “literary” or by any other name.

Some of our faves: Virginia Woolf, Toni Morrison, Salman Rushdie, Michael Cunningham, W. B. Yeats, Louise Gluck, Anne Carson, Ursula LeGuin, Emma Donoghue, Zadie Smith, Aimee Bender, Karen Russell, Oscar Wilde, James Baldwin, Ambrose Bierce.


On Sun Stars

It was a strange summer on the Southern Oregon coast. Smoke from inland fires shut down the rafting season, and the whole area had a feeling of restless abandonment reminiscent, just a bit, of the off-season riviera of a Hemingway or Fitzgerald novel. We set up in the small town of Port Orford. Our a spare motel overlooked the crescent bay, and down on that long curve of beach, utterly by accident, we found the greatest treasure of our trip. Amongst the boulders and the sea stacks just out from shore was an endless swath of tidepools. On the second day, we set our alarms for 6 a.m. to hit the low tide, and wandered down to find the whole expanse laid bare, teeming with purple and orange sea stars, crabs and chitons, nudibranch and anemone. But most wonderful of all was a creature that neither of us had ever seen in the flesh: gigantic sun stars, blazing orange with countless legs. We saw them across the shore, walking through low pools and lounging in the crux of boulders. We had been tidepooling before, but we had never seen anything quite like this. These stars pushed us past wonder, and through to unreality.

When we sat down to pick a name for our journal, these creatures jumped, or, well, crawled to mind. We realized that they represent so much of what we hope to find with our project. Somehow familiar, somehow otherworldly, those sun stars exist at a point where resolute headlands mingle with the ever-shifting sea. They live in an impermanent space, with the constant rise and fall of tides, the wash of debris, the crumbling of stone. It’s a place of shrouds, of clouds and mist closing in, strange fecundity, of sea stars and anemones covering the rock beneath, of light shining on the surface of pools, the hollows and crevices, of the unseen depths of the sea right at hand. It’s a place you can never see the same way twice. And in that fleeting, liminal space, that space of weirding, of the shifting of worlds, of hidden depths and tidal forces, you never know quite what you will find, what alien things may become familiar, what magic is possible.