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. I 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. I am not a gatekeeper 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.