What Henry James called “the Distinguished Thing” haunts our every step: war, famine, fatal disease: the catalogue of misfortune is deep and various: we live in uncertainty and die like flies. How do we push on? How do we find meaning in a world so often ruled by randomness and cruelty? Philosophers would say that to know what to ask is to already know half. Many of us have too many questions and so few answers; but when you swim in the literary stream long enough you discover that you are far from alone, for literature contains the best of interrogators.

Call it obsessive curiosity, call it monomaniacal dedication, call it Schopenhauer’s blind irrational will, but I’d prefer to call it the duty of the writer and the artist. You will find exemplars of these very questing souls in this new issue of The Match Factory.

You can begin with SVA instructor Merlin Ural Rivera, whose acerbic poem looks askance at lauded notions such as patriotism and nationalism, before reading Lauren Kristin’s hilarious and subversive piece, which dares to poke fun at the One and Only. Bari Resnick’s astonishing feat of empathy in the form of a ballad, which concerns a prisoner in a North Korean camp, will enthrall you, as will Janet Paik’s fine burst of lyricism. And if you are lovers of language you should look no further than the poems of Jonathan Hedegaard and Evan DeCarlo, who paint vivid images with their verbal brushes.

If you are seeking art criticism then Allison Schaller’s take on Marcel Broodthaers is well worth your while; and if you are as perplexed by the theory of dreams as we are then look to Erica Ripperger to help you sever that Freudian knot. But if you really just want to have a gut-busting laugh, then you really should look into the short, hysterical work of Hannah Fitzgerald.

You will also discover a beautiful, mystical short story by Grace Jo, and a brief novel excerpt by The Match Factory’s editor, Edwin Rivera (who also penned a fictional letter by the boxing great Muhammad Ali, gorgeously designed by Colin Goldberg).

Finally, Amber Ross has continued to produce high-quality cartoons, which we are proud to publish, and we are especially humbled to have been given the permission to publish the works of SVA student Bari Resnick, whose collages, caricature, and still images of her stop-animation film will leave you awe-struck.

We hope that you enjoy this issue, and are moved by the small epiphanies and giant firecrackers of inspiration. There is meaning to be found here. To quote Robert Browning, “This world’s no blot or blank for us– It means intensely, and means good. To find its meaning is [our] meat and drink.”

Bari Resnick, Stop-motion Still

Stop-motion still by featured artist Bari Resnick