Volume 19 | 2023/2024
Letters from the Editors-in-Chief
Fall 2023 Issue | Grace Marie Liu
Writing can be–and often is–a solitary act. Ranging from team sports to performative arts, a great deal of activities necessitate the collaboration of many. In that respect, a writer’s job significantly differs. Of course, writing communities, workshops, and programs are becoming increasingly accessible in the digital age. Nevertheless, as a writer myself, much of my work has been done in solitude: late-night word-vomiting into a Google doc; feverishly cutting, rewriting, and rearranging blocks of text; and poring over a single troublesome line in the wee hours of the morning, one hand buried in a party size bag of shrimp chips. It’s no surprise, then, that loneliness is not uncommon in this particular craft. And the publication world can be incredibly daunting, even as more and more distinct magazines populate the literary scene.
What makes Polyphony Lit one-of-a-kind, then, is how tightly the concepts of craft and togetherness are entwined. In fact, editors and contributors of Polyphony alike discover that each step of the submission process is anything but solitary–rather, the synergy, or combined efforts and opinions of many, are what lay the foundation of Polyphony. Additionally, while maintaining objectivity is something that Polyphony editors keep in mind, the unique voices and perspectives of each editor shine through in their distinct commentaries and endeavors. Many aspects of writing are done alone, but the tight yet heterogeneous community that Polyphony has fostered is extraordinary.
Beyond connecting an eclectic group of writers, editors, and readers, Polyphony provides opportunities for personal growth that are scarce elsewhere–and as the first magazine I’ve edited for, my experiences at Polyphony have been paramount. Like many of my fellow editors, I stumbled upon Polyphony Lit as a reserved, apprehensive freshman. That being said, I didn’t enroll in an editorial training program until the following summer as a rising sophomore. As someone who felt uncomfortable with their writing, the thought of attempting editorial work seemed out of the question. Furthermore, an editor’s job felt clinical and stuffy to me–tighten up the language here; remedy this grammatical error. Just a little over a year later, I’m honored to be an Editor-in-Chief of Polyphony Lit. Similar to how we are ever-changing as individuals, the puzzle pieces that comprise our identities are equally fluid.
Initially, I contemplated describing these pieces with ubiquitous themes: love, loss, beauty, culture, coming of age, change. Such ideas are, of course, present in this issue. Yet attempting to encompass these writers’ words with umbrella themes simply doesn’t seem to suffice. What I will say, though, is this: the pieces you see here are constantly working to detach the body from the self, jigsawing said puzzle pieces into something novel and astonishing. Interweaving anatomy and desire, Ziyi Yan’s “heat lightning triptych” deftly mimics the turbulence of a storm both visually and sonically. Ava Chen’s “PARALLELS: THE STARS OR LACK THEREOF” plays with the negative space of language and fragmentation, its poignant narration underscoring everything that is left unsaid. These are just a few glimpses of this issue: every piece here demands your full attention by championing intricate stories and vibrant images. From “coral-colored / carps [that] outgrow their regular size” (“Lucky Fish”) to “a chinese takeout bag, thank you plastered all over the front” (“auto-eulogy for the perfectly fine”) to “sins … opaque as Minnesota tap water” (“The Temple”), there truly is nothing like Polyphony and its many voices.
Drafting this letter is bittersweet–I’m in my third year of high school and second year at Polyphony, and I’ve crossed the midpoint of both journeys. I’m both thrilled and terrified for what’s to come. As for now, though, whether you’re a returning reader or a new follower of Polyphony Lit, thank you. We invite you to immerse yourself in the effervescence of Polyphony’s newest issue: Volume 19, fall.
Grace Marie Liu