top of page

Letter from the Editors-in-Chief

Winter 2024 Issue | Shaliz M. Bazldjoo

Dear Readers,

The snow is leaving my windowsills. Old flakes of frost slough off the glass, leaves sprout from the branches of trees, and sunlight peeks out from the thinning clouds. In a way, it’s relieving—no more thick jackets, no more power outages, no more ice on the roads. In another way, it highlights the end of an era in crystal clarity.

It’s a new year now. Here at Polyphony, that means new editors, submitters, contests, events, and, most extraordinarily, the dawn of our twentieth anniversary as a literary magazine. We’re on the verge of a rare milestone. I struggle to fathom how an organization that has been such a big part of my life these past few years, that has felt so deeply interwoven with my generation of teen writers, has been functioning and inspiring people for longer than I’ve been alive. 

This transition is one of many. For me, the new year also heralds the end of high school, teenagehood, and my tenure at Polyphony Lit. While I’m excited for the future, I can’t help but look back. It’s hard not to get lost in the tangled lattice of memory, as many of our pieces, from Sisi Li’s “hypnopompic confessions” to Kate Choi’s “Still” can attest to. I turn towards the past, and, through the haze, make out my first assignment at Polyphony: the nerves that came with a new opportunity, the frantic reading of example editorial reviews, and the way anxiety osmosed into comfort as I realized what a joy it was to edit pieces—to peek, for a moment, into someone else’s creative process, and to be a tiny part of the wonders inside their mind.

Polyphony, ultimately, is built on that openness; that willingness to share stories, emotions, and lives between writers and readers and make a conversation out of a submission; that enthusiasm in welcoming new students onto the staff and working with them on everything from book clubs to contest ideas to new startup literary magazines. This place, more than any other writing community I’ve bore witness to, meets you where you’re at and lifts you up. It’s empathetic, it’s forgiving, and it listens with genuine care to each voice and story. It encourages questions, embraces suggestions, and always looks for new ways to metamorphose as time goes on and the world grows ever-so-slightly more complex. I believe this is why Polyphony Lit has endured all these years, and why it will continue growing, season after season, winter after winter, year after year of editors like me.

I can’t say high school has been perfect—nothing is, after all. There were times when, even with support systems like Polyphony, I wanted to fade into the blankness of the snowstorm. This issue of Polyphony in particular reconciles that feeling. Many of the pieces herein deal with the intersection of love and grief; how you can care for someone, such as a caregiver in Gia Bharadwaj’s “poem for parents,” a mother in Sandra Nuochen’s “stop,” or a whole country in Jessica Zhang’s “My Country is a Collection of Fires,” and yet fear their wrath or resent their dictations; how intimacy and rage do not run in parallel lines. Something as simple as wintertime, with all its chill and sharpness, falls into this paradox. Reading these pieces, I wondered: why love something that hurts you? How can you take the cold, bitter snow on the ground, and turn it into angels?

Simple: you just do. Like Tina Zeng’s “On Love On Psychedelics” proclaims, despite the mess and confusion of love, “we’re not ready to give up… we’ll fight the wrongness and fight the trauma and fight each other to get someplace where I don’t have to say so many maybe’s.” With tears in our eyes and hope in our hearts, we—like the authors in this issue—bear out the storm, and when it’s over there will always be a warm embrace like Polyphony Lit to return to, as readers, or writers, or artists, or all of the above.

So here’s to looking back while walking forward, to holding the memories close. Here’s to Polyphony Lit, to winter, and to you—three beautiful, complex things anchoring our shared world in place.







Shaliz M. Bazldjoo

Shaliz Bazldjoo Signature no background_edited.png
bottom of page