Volume 17 | Spring 2022 Table of Contents
Letter from the Editors-in-Chief
Spring 2022 Issue | Daniel Boyko
As I write this letter for the third and final issue in Volume 17, like Hannah, I feel compelled to look back almost two years, when my school first went virtual due to the surge of Covid and its overwhelming global pandemic. At the time, I—along with many of my peers—believed we’d be back in school within two weeks, at most a month. In reality, I didn’t set foot back in the building again until September, 2021—nearly an entire year and a half later. I went from being a sophomore, an underclassman who was only starting to grasp this strange thing called high school, to a senior, with my junior year seemingly vanishing into the void that was quarantine. My story is similar to many across the country and world, who faced similar circumstances, along with many who faced much worse. These have been a rough past two years, marked by nearly unimaginable tragedy and uncertainty, a future where no one has any real answers.
This is not to say there haven’t been some bright spots along the way. The world, in some ways but certainly not enough, has been brought together to fight a common enemy. More personal to this community, many editors (including myself) were given the opportunity, especially when quarantine first began, to invest more time into this wonderful organization. To review more submissions. To create new projects, such as the birth of our Junior Board and the Writer’s Block Party. To create our first-ever virtual Literary Salons. Just a few weeks ago, due to new CDC guidelines, I was in a school classroom maskless for the first time in over 700 days, along with many of my peers. As one of my friends put it, It felt like we won something.
And yet, and maybe this is the cynic in me, it feels like as soon as we take one step forward, we take two more back. The current Russo-Ukrainian War has led to further tragedy, with over 2.5 million Ukrainian refugees fleeing their homes, the largest refugee crisis since World War II.
With everything currently happening, with everything seemingly falling apart, it perhaps shouldn’t be surprising, then, that many of us have turned inward. In part, to escape. But also to confront ourselves through self-reflection. Maybe to reveal our anger or sadness at everything that’s happening, everything we’ve been robbed of, maybe just to feel some gratitude for what we do have. Maybe just to get a better sense of who we are—to confront our identities, to reckon with self—and how we belong in this ever-changing world. We certainly see that in the pieces present here. In Jessica Wang’s “Snake-people,” animalistic otherness is employed as a metaphor for racial discrimination. In Dana Blatte’s “Naturalization Test,” the immigrant speaker reclaims a sense of belonging. In Corina Yi’s “24-hour bathhouse,” readers receive a profound reflection on isolation, innocence, and interacting with one’s familial history. After reading these pieces, you come away feeling that you better understand the voices of these speakers and narrators, that the authors came away from these beautiful creative writing works understanding themselves better, too.
But Polyphony isn’t just an opportunity for growth for our submitters. It’s also an opportunity for all of our editors, our consistently dependable, awesome staff, to become more confident, wiser, more sure versions of themselves. After all, that’s what happens when you deeply dive into editing and commenting on the pieces we receive, when you’re confronted with editorial challenges like reviewing a genre you’re unfamiliar with, or a piece with techniques you’ve never heard of, or learning to find strengths in a piece where you feel nothing goes right.
Maybe I’m selfish, but that also perfectly reflects my experience. Three years ago, I discovered Polyphony Lit as an admittedly hesitant freshman with an interest in editing. Unlike our current application process, which consists of a formalized training program, at the time all that was required of me was to provide a set of sample commentary on a given submission that would later be evaluated to determine if I was ready to join the staff.
Here’s a little secret: that first set of commentary, I completely botched. I had no idea what a “speaker” was, or how to find and detail imagery and tone, or how to provide feedback not related to grammar. And it showed.
In fact, I was asked by then-Managing Director billy lombardo to work on another set of sample commentary before joining—a relative rarity at the time. After reviewing the feedback given to me, I submitted a second set of commentary. I didn’t yet know it at the time, but I was already engaging with Polyphony’s cyclical editing process: upper-level editors provide feedback to lower-level editors on their commentary in addition to providing feedback on submissions. The result? A supportive environment that fosters growth for everyone. Ultimately, I was given a chance to join as the lowest-level editor, despite, as billy phrased it, the slight “reluctance” of the evaluators.
I’m now an Editor-in-Chief. Self-motivation combined with this vibrant editorial cycle has allowed me to learn so much about creative writing and editing—how to both construct and destruct a piece, how to approach it with an open mind for improvement regardless of its surface quality. It was a difficult, often humbling process, but I’ve now been fortunate enough to watch and partake in this organization’s evolution under unprecedented circumstances and to work alongside such incredible people. This is to say, Polyphony Lit is a tunnel you can escape to, but it’s also a tunnel you come out of feeling like a new, improved version of yourself. And I know that among an organization of hundreds of eager, literary-hungry editors, writers, readers, and thinkers, I’m not alone in this belief.
Thank you to all of those individuals who came together with their energy, passion, patience, Discord-savviness, and Submittable-know-how to make this issue before you a reality.
Polyphony Lit and this Volume, in particular, mean a lot to me. I hope you’ll come to feel the same.