Editor’s Note
Volume Seven: To Control A Natural Thing


It goes without saying that this has been a remarkable, unprecedented year. As much as the literary community pivoted towards virtual gatherings, so too did our Runestone class and editorial sessions. Zoom classrooms have brought about their own complications and hilarity – from technological snafus to silly chat boxes. Runestone student editors and assistant editors remained intrepid throughout unbelievable hardships, and for that alone this issue deserves heaps of laurels and love. 

A question that kept returning in our editorial sessions was, should we prioritize writing directly addressing the COVID-19 crisis? Would it be irresponsible not to prioritize these works, or would we be pigeonholing ourselves to this moment in time? One astute student editor put it this way — everything being published right now is a record of this historic time, regardless of subject matter. This volume is our contribution to the fingerprint of history forming from the literature, art, film, and music created and published today. 

2020’s visiting writer, the multi-faceted D. Allen, reminded us that “catharsis comes with its own difficulties.” In this volume, you’ll find a brave essay parsing through the reality of intimate partner abuse. You’ll find poems that ache with growing pains, you’ll find fiction exploring how what goes unsaid impacts our relationships with a quiet heaviness. One of the most exciting qualities of emerging writers for me is the ability to track their growth as words spill down the page — a window into a spring-green mind at work. 

We also welcomed our first Digital Storytelling contributions, and congratulate Ella Shively, the winner of our inaugural Digital Storytelling contest with her audio-poem “Abiogenesis”. Runestone editors were impressed with Shively’s creative and elegant response to “An Evening at Inch Strand Beach Just Outside Dingle, Ireland” by vol. 5 contributor, Emilee Kinney. “In the absence of light, see my soul fluoresce,” Shively intones, a rush of waves behind her. “Do not weep for the girl who flees evolutionary destiny for the company of the abyssal sea”. We also welcome a collage film by Ahavah Warr, which with its barrage of color and sound has perfectly captured the frantic spirit of our age. These young artists have taken a risk and tried their hand at a yet-developing medium, and for that we’re truly humbled. 

We take this year’s title, “To Control A Natural Thing,” from Shelby Lengyel’s poem “Woman and Water”. We all wish to get a handle on this pandemic, to control the virus which is, regrettably, a natural component of our worldly reality. We wish to wrangle, to understand the many heartbreaks before and behind us. How we do so requires creativity, deep listening, and love. 

With Gratitude,
Halee Kirkwood
Faculty Editor

Halee Kirkwood profile image

Halee Kirkwood, a 2019-2020 Loft Mentor Series Fellow, received their MFA from Hamline University. Their work has been published in The Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day series, Water~Stone Review, Lunch Ticket, Muzzle Magazine, Grimoire Magazine, Cream City Review, Strange Horizons, and others. They have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, as well as a nomination for a Best of the Net prize.

Kirkwood was an inaugural teaching fellow for the 2019 Desert Nights, Rising Stars writing conference at Arizona State University, and has served as a writing mentor for the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop. Their mini-chapbook, Exorcising The Catalogue, was published in Fall 2018 with Rinky Dink Press. Kirkwood is a proud first-generation college student and a direct descendant of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe. 

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