How does one know when they’ve encountered good writing? Kafka said that literature should be an axe to smash the frozen sea of the heart. Emily Dickinson was able to recognize a poem by what the language did to her body: she went so cold that no fire could ever warm her. I prefer a slew of verbiage with equatorial heat to poetic lines frosted in a moon-maddened chill, but if I’m danced out of my own trivial cares by a good short story, say, then I could declare myself satisfied. Give me the sizzle of an adjective, the singeing verb, the phrasing so hot that one becomes like the spokes in the firewheel of the rising sun; and this is fitting, for The Match Factory aims to strike sparks with each piece of prose, each illuminating image, each work of art.

This new issue makes me proud. A diversity of voices vies for your attention—a true image of America and democracy, and a mirror of human passions and concerns. In many of these writings you will find the choice line, the unsleeving of a melody, or something said so incomparably well that you may be forced to pause, head askance, as if the rift in time and space had tore a seam in the sky above.

Begin with the poems, if you wish, such as the suite written by Humanities faculty member Kristin L. Wolfe, whose precisely rendered lines are as lovely as blanket-snow that stops up the world with its cottoning silence. Emily Rabinowitz has unknotted a shaped language that tumbles down the screen like the flutter-feathers from airborne beauties, and Fernando Snellings gives us the nervous voice of the young-in-love with “Francis,” and wording that blooms like the fairy-buds of a foamflower in “Fillers.” We also have cheerful experimentation that spreads language across the page as sweetly as mulberry jam slides across the texture of warm and fragrant bread (Brooke Biondi, Tori E. Kelner, Michelle G. Clark), and Madison Horne and Josette Roberts showcase the clarion calls of righteous prosecution in timely poems, each as hot to the touch as fuel-grade plutonium, and as necessary as the greenery in treetops.

And if you’re in a narrative mood, then visit Courtney Agnello’s brief cemetery dance, in which a young gravedigger struts his hour amid the moss and uncandled darkness, exposing the fears that reside within us all. In Caitlin Rivera’s  “The Lake” and “The Pines” by Kyriakina Valavanis we have tales of the supernatural and a confrontation with a grizzled wizard; and for sheer wizardly prose blushed with a hint of nostalgia you can turn to Amanda Lu’s “Hands” and “Papa’s Beloved” by Sophia Dibartolomeo. If you hanker for a rip-snorting plot involving a few good men who look to summon forth the storms of apocalypse, you will get your fix in Luis Cordoba’s excerpt from his feature screenplay, Gabriel’s Revelation. 

Speaking of film, Etna Ozbek and Tom Yoannidis have written searching reviews of plangent films by Wim Wenders and Chantal Akerman, whose work finds common ground in the profundity of ordinary life, where time leaks past slowly and the grind of existence rises to the heights of tragedy.

Finally, we are proud to feature SVA student Sydney Kaye’s photographic series, Stigma, in which a shattered cosmogony shows us not so much the agony of worlds in peril, but a beauty that is ever-present in the ruins.

Sydney Kaye, Breaking The Stigma #1
Artwork by featured artist Sydney Kaye.