Volume Four: Fundamental Frequencies
During an interview with The Paris Review, the Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz was asked if philosophy had a place in his poetry. He said it depended what kind. “There are some kinds of philosophy,” he said, “that remind me of the circumstance of driving at night and having a hare jump in front of the lights. The hare doesn’t know how to get out of the beam of light–he runs straight ahead. I am interested in the kind of philosophy that would be useful to the hare in that instance.”
Perhaps now, more than at any time in recent memory, we turn toward literature that can be useful to us, that helps us navigate the complex roles we play as neighbors, friends, lovers, and citizens. The work that is most meaningful to us as readers and editors is often that which communicates something previously unexplainable, or that makes us feel less alone as human beings.
In their oft-referenced study, The New School for Social Research has shown how literary fiction improves the complicated social skill of understanding the mental states of other people – perhaps no great surprise to those of us who’ve been reading all our lives, but validating to read all the same. The authors of the study explain how “just as in real life, the worlds of literary fiction are replete with complicated individuals whose inner lives are rarely easily discerned but warrant exploration.”
With both Milosz’s quotation and this study in mind, we’ve called this issue “Fundamental Frequencies.” Each author featured here has brought their own imagination and figurative lens to bear on the act of living, but they also have something more ineffable in common. Coping with the loss of a sibling, the search for a meaningful belief system, painful disconnections between parents and their children, profound attachments to landscape – these are frequencies we all hear, or can begin to teach one another to hear.
Literature is powerful in its abilities to help us understand each other, and to show us the way forward in our private moments of despair. Where would we be without it? The fact is also that literature needs to be continuously refreshed. It needs new voices to replace those no longer available to us, and to be in conversation with work that has come before. It’s literary journals that do the bulk of this work.
Runestone is proud that in the vast ecosystem of literature, our role is to support brand new writers. We hope you’ll find something here that speaks to you, and that you’ll share what you find, submit to us in the future, and watch for the work of these authors to appear elsewhere in the years to come. The editorial board and I hope you find moments of real connection and humanity in the work we’ve chosen for volume 4.
Gretchen Marquette is the author of May Day (Graywolf Press, 2016.) Her poetry has appeared in Poetry, Harper’s, the Paris Review, Tin House, PBS Newshour, and other places. She lives in Minneapolis.