12 YEARS: AN EDITORIAL STATEMENT
“We do not write during the apocalypse, which is old, but in a world located beyond it.”
— Ignacio Padilla
Climate change and trans people: both are realities difficult for the cis population to understand. Both involve patterns of change and regeneration not easily observable using the templates provided by cisgender and capitalist lives. We don’t think amplifying trans writers will change that. But trans writers have been imagining new ways of living and writing for generations. Two Spirit writers for much longer than that. Despite all of this, the trans body is still subject to a failure of imagination in the popular consciousness. The trans body is considered “unnatural”, its changes supposedly go “against nature”, with few in mainstream literature, medicine, or history acknowledging that nature is nothing but change.
Trans lives have much to say about the meeting of nature and culture, but trans writers have been mostly ignored by anthologies, journals, and books purporting to be about the ways humans and nature interact. Our role is larger than what we’ve been accorded; it’s not to show that trans people are “natural” — a meaningless word— but to illuminate the many ways in which nature and the environment are trans in their very essence.
The duty of the writer is to elevate the many small human crises above the white noise of capitalism’s death shudders: people living with radiation in their bodies; people gunned down while selling cigarettes or at a traffic stop by agents of the state; people defending their water while being bitten by dogs; people cooking dinner under the whistling missiles manufactured by the U.S.. Even smaller, still: the blind woman boarding the bus with her guide dog, cursing the banks of snow and ice that trip her; the bottle redemption center refusing to take in recyclables from a brown man; those who manage to continue living while doctors refuse to understand their needs and families refuse to remember them. These crises are easily subsumed by the supposed high stakes of Western civilization’s collapse, represented by “true” apocalypse. Pundits try to dramatize a new Armageddon every news cycle, while we look on holding apocalypses within ourselves like Russian nesting dolls. If we fail to make these stories heard or simply never bother trying, then the same tired story will continue repeating itself long after capitalism has lost all vitality, continually reanimated like a zombie, justifying the most extreme measures in order to hold onto power. Perhaps this is already happening.
Capitalism has made crisis the natural state of things, and a cycle of crisis cannot be disrupted by thwarting it; rather, we must find strategies to make crisis work in our favor. To cling to the hull of apocalypse and manipulate it. To make space for our stories. Because stories can disrupt a system, even one built on cycles of manufactured doom.
Smoke and mold are signs of what’s coming, and of what’s been; of wildfires and floods gone by and still to come. Smoke and mold are pervasive; they linger and change the smell of things, insinuate themselves into the tiniest of cracks and cause trouble. They will soon be more abundant in our air and more prevalent in our imaginations. The journal will publish 24 issues: 2 each year for 12 years — the amount of time allotted us by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Thematically, it places no restrictions on what counts as nature, and writers must only self-identify as trans or Two Spirit to be included. We are not gatekeepers of who does and doesn’t “count”. The majority of work featured, however, will be prose (for lack of a better word): fiction, creative nonfiction, essays, investigations, musings, and occasional prose poems. There are many wonderful journals supporting trans poets and nature as a field of investigation, but fewer invested in the narrative possibilities that trans lives bring to our changing nature-culture. It’s these that smoke + mold will bring to the fore.
Cal Angus - Managing Editor
Cal is a trans writer and editor currently based in Portland, Oregon. His book A Natural History of Transition (Metonymy Press) was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award in Transgender Fiction, the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award, and an Oregon Book Award. His work has appeared in Orion, Nat. Brut, West Branch, LA Review of Books, Catapult, The Common, Seventh Wave Magazine and elsewhere. He started smoke and mold in 2019.
Galen David Bunting - Assistant Editor
Galen is a doctoral candidate in English at Northeastern University. His flash fiction piece "Watching Over Me" appeared in the pages of the Fabulist Magazine, while his poem “bonepickers” was featured in the Minnesota Review, and his poem “poppet (an apotropaic object)” appeared in the October 2021 issue of Superfroot Magazine. His critical essays have been featured on the Ploughshares Blog and Modernism/Modernity. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts, where you can find him combing through books at the back of local thrift stores.
Jie / 婕 Venus Cohen - Assistant Editor
Jie / 婕 is a non-binary Asian and Jewish writer, artist and sex worker advocate. Their artwork and writing is often centered around their internal and external social identities, such as race and ethnicity, religious affiliation and unacceptable attractiveness. Their creative work has been recognized in various formats: The poem "I Am a Jew” was published in SMCC Beacon’s 11/2018 issue and their poetry project “Grindr Life,” along with fiction piece, “Coming out is Hard” will be featured in Disquiet Arts March 2021 issue.
Wren Hanks - Assistant Editor
Wren is the author of Lily-livered (Driftwood Press, 2021), winner of the Adrift Chapbook Contest, and The Rise of Genderqueer (Brain Mill Press, 2018). A 2016 Lambda Emerging Writers Fellow, his recent work appears or is forthcoming in Indiana Review, Third Coast, DIAGRAM, New South, and Underblong. He lives in Brooklyn, loves velvet, and works in animal rights.
hannah rubin - Assistant Editor
hannah is a queer writer and interdisciplinary artist working wetly across performance, text, choreography, drawing, sculpture, image-making, and ritual. They have performed or exhibited work in Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Portland, Seattle, and Vermont; their writing has been published in Berkeley Poetry Review, F Magazine, BOAAT Magazine, Heavy Feather Review, Ghost City Review, The Bombay Gin, SF Weekly, and elsewhere. Currently, they run softblobs, a clay experiment that choreographs queer connection through elemental touch, and coordinate 20 lines a day, a durational daily writing collaboration across sixteen artists. Together with Noelle Armstrong they host mellow drama, a humidly intimate poetry radio show on KCIA.
SMOKE AND MOLD READERS
Eli Tareq El Bechelany-Lynch - Former Assistant Editor
Eli is a queer Arab poet living in Tio’tia:ke, unceded Kanien’kehá:ka territory. Their work has appeared in The Best Canadian Poetry 2018 anthology, GUTS, Carte Blanche, the Shade Journal, The New Quarterly, Arc Poetry Magazine, and elsewhere. They were longlisted for the CBC poetry prize in 2019. You can find them on Instagram and Twitter @theonlyelitareq. Their book, knot body, was published by Metatron Press September 2020, and their upcoming poetry collection, The Good Arabs, will be published by Metonymy Press in 2021.
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