SmokeLong Quarterly
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Dear SmokeLong Friends,

art by Marty D. Ison
artwork by Marty D. Ison
If you're a highly intent observer, you'll note that the date of this letter is... well... it's a day late. Sorry about that, folks. And even that one day late is a little fudge on the truth, as it's actually after midnight here, so technically, the issue is two days late hitting your screen. I can only offer a large mea culpa. The weekend was spent on a retreat for the day job. But now, sitting and typing, I'm finding it entirely appropriate that the Beatles' "Love" is playing through a second time. Double the love, baby.

This issue is, to borrow a phrase from one of the co-workers with whom I retreated, ginormous. And, oh so achingly full of love. The combination of guest editor Claudia Smith's nurturing eye with the cream of the crop of the Fish Fellowship applicants... rarely has the phrase "a labor of love" seemed quite so a propos (and heavy on the love part of that phrase).

Claudia comments in her interview that many of the stories herein deal with loss, and I'd agree, but I'm also struck by how often that loss is paired with something found (Darlin' Neal and Tiff Holland leap immediately to mind). Claudia also commented in correspondence about the colors of this cover, that they seem cooler than what is usually found on our covers, and that it fits well the stories herein. Again, I agree. Many of the stories carry great pain and hit hard (I don't think it's an accident that the vast majority of the pieces herein have one-word titles with the impact of a swift punch to the gut), and yet... and yet there is a gentleness. I'm hard-pressed to explain this, perhaps because my eyelids are crashing down, but more likely because of the dichotomies herein: loss/finding, harshness/gentleness, etc.

More than in any other letter I've written, I don't feel that I'm explaining myself well. Please just read. The brilliance of the authors will illustrate better than I could hope to. I'll sign off here with the lyric now streaming from my speakers, and hope you'll fill in with the lyrics that follow it.

Let it be,



Dave Clapper
Founding Editor, SmokeLong Quarterly

March 16, 2008
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