Dear Readers,

We're glad you're here. In a difficult season all of us at West Branch want to reaffirm our commitment to literatures of the imagination, regardless of—and indeed, in welcoming response to—race, religion, gender, sexuality, nationality, immigration status, and the innumerable other forms of difference that nuance human experience. I say "reaffirm" because we're proud of the diversity of writing the journal has been able to share over many, many years, and of the writers who have generously permitted us to take part in that sharing. This ability—to share work with others that might not otherwise reach a public audience—is what makes the editorial vocation worthwhile.

As editor, I continue to believe and maintain that works of literary imagination are a primary, and sometimes the only, zone in which we may effectively conceptualize our best lives, our best selves, our deepest commitments and rejections. This is a line of aesthetic, cultural, and political descent that runs through René Char and Simone Weil, Czeslaw Milosz and Toni Morrison, Mahmoud Darwish and Alice Notley—to name just a few writers whose lives and works have given some precise shape, for me, to the possibilities of expression, identity, and empathy that essential works of art represent.

I'm thinking this afternoon of a line from Paul Celan's Fadensonnen: "die kleine Gauklerpredigt der Stille." Celan is of course notoriously difficult to translate. Pierre Joris translates this particular line "silence's little juggler sermon." But in Ian Fairley's translation it's "the small sham ministry of silence."

That's a ministry art aims to identify, always: to lay a finger to, a brush, a tongue. To recognize it, and as with all sham ministries oppose its authority, its scope and reach.

Thank you for helping us do this, for being part of the human project that does this.

G.C. Waldrep
Editor, West Branch