The past year has been one of great personal difficulty and triumph for me. I launched Rascal, published my first book, put my first book out of print, lost my ability to walk, partially regained it, won a poetry prize, undertook editing an anthology, and started a master’s program at age 38. Sixteen months ago, I never would have guessed that any of this would happen. Most of these things sprung from dreams I started having twenty years ago, and when one dreams of things for that long, one wonders if the dream state is the only state those desires will ever inhabit.
I should know better. Persistence is a form of magic, a way of channeling energy into the manifestation of realities we desire, which isn’t to say that we create realities, or that realities take the shape of our desires, but that we participate in their making. And the more we attend to our deepest wishes, the greater the chance they have of crossing the metaphysical plane. But let me get off my horse. At base, I think desire is a dangerous element, one best kept at a low flame.
Rascal has been a windfall in my life, not only because I get to review all the poems, essays, photographs and artworks that folks submit—and believe me, that is a blessing—but also because of 1) the friends I’ve made, 2) the way their art compels me to challenge my own life and work, and 3) how much it makes me love editors, truly some of the unsung heroes of this world.
As Rascal turns one, what I most feel is gratitude. Getting to read you and speak with you and publish you and publish for you is a privilege, and though it’s a ton of work, that work is an honor I don’t take for granted. People put their lives into their work and then entrust their work to my stewardship and care, and preparing that work for the public is a sacred undertaking.
That’s one of the reasons I take a multi-media and multi-format approach to publishing. Letting poems speak through text and voice, and putting poems and essays in conversation with images, reminds me of the time, way back in our ancestral kindling, when the arts were interwoven expressions of the spirit that moved in and around us—times when we gathered around fires and shifted from dancing to stargazing to storytelling to singing with the wolves and warming our asses as part of one fluid motion, a motion called creaturely inhabitation of the Earth.
I don’t know what shape Rascal may take in the future or how long it will bark across the galaxy. It may last as long as I do, which may be a while, or not. But for now, we have the gift of the present, and with our first year behind us, I hope, dear readers and listeners and poem-gazers and animal lovers, that you catch a little whiff of exhilaration from that one fluid motion, too.
Thanks for giving these works hearts to call home.
Ricky Ray, Founding Editor
Ricky Ray was born in Florida and educated at Columbia University. He is the author of Fealty (
Eyewear, 2018) and the founding editor of Rascal: a Journal of Ecology, Literature and Art. His recent work can be found in The American Scholar, The Matador Review, Amaryllis, Scintilla and One. His awards include the Cormac McCarthy Prize, the Ron McFarland Poetry Prize, the Fortnight Poetry Prize, and a Whisper River Poetry Prize. He lives in Harlem with his wife, three cats and a Labradetter. Their bed, like any good home of the heart, is frequently overcrowded. If you’re hungry for more info, you can catch his first long-form interview at AMRI here.