Editor's Note

Monday, January 15, 2024

As a devout student of José Esteban Muñoz’s conceptions of queer cultural and political (re)imagination, I am often thinking about futurity—and queer futurity in particular—in the ways I structure my own life but also in the art I most like to seek out and burrow into. This is my first time writing one of these letters as the managing editor of TriQuarterly, and when, after taking my initial stab at my own, I revisited my predecessor Joshua Bohnsack’s final letter from last issue—which came out in the summer and feels like a lifetime ago—I was struck by his focus on the future. It’s like a seed was planted without me realizing it at the time. "How do we leave something for the future?" Bohnsack asks in that letter, and that question to himself has become a driving force for me as I've stepped into this role, thinking not about how to create something that is timeless but rather moving toward something.

Grief, death, addiction, war, abuse, oppression—on both interpersonal and systemic levels—all these mournful themes linger in the textured pages of this issue. But it would be a mistake to call the issue cynical or macabre. Here is work that acknowledges the violent and heartbreaking realities of the world we live in while also often imagining something else, reaching toward futurity.

There is work throughout the issue in unexpected conversation with each other and across genres. We have a poem about a grieving whale, a short story about a dead one. There are playful approaches to form, such as a poem presented as word problems, a story about reproductive justice presented as a test. Hauntings come in various incorporeal forms, like gentrification haunting an essay that's also about family and lineage. Climate horror seeps into crevices, including by way of toxic fish in a story ultimately about parental loss. There’s absurdity to be found as well, such as in a story about a donut-slinging robot who’s woefully misunderstood. But I don’t want to give too much away; I want you to sit with the work, too.

Wow this one is sad, I found myself thinking upon initial reads and rereads throughout the process of binding together these works for the issue. But I don’t see that as a bad thing. Collective grief is a powerful force, and collective grief is something being acutely experienced in a lot of the communities I'm in: in reaction to an ongoing genocide, an ongoing pandemic, ongoing suffering in many shapes. To say grief is at the center of the past year would be an understatement.

There is no one emotion that connects all of the pieces here in this issue; they are a rich tapestry of human emotions. But I encourage you to not look away from the sad parts in particular. Don't mistake mourning as something that merely looks backward; it's baked into futurity, too.

If I may look back for a moment, though, I’m deeply indebted to the legacies of the recent managing editors who came before me, including Bohnsack as well as Aram Mrjoian, who I also got to work under when I first started as a fiction editor with TriQuarterly. And many thanks to my assistant managing editor Kira Alexis Tucker and all of the genre editors and readers who have a hand in these issues. I love to learn from them all and carry those lessons into the future.

– Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya
Managing Editor, TriQuarterly

Managing Editor: Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya
Assistant Managing Editor: Kira Tucker
Faculty Advisor: Natasha Trethewey
Staff Advisor: Colin Pope
Social Media Editor: Emily Mirengoff
Film Editor: Sarah Minor
Fiction Editors: Patrick Bernhard, Jennifer Companik, Emily Mirengoff, Laura Joyce-Hubbard, Mariah Rigg
Nonfiction Editor: Starr Davis
Poetry Editor: Daniel Fliegel
Copy Editor: Lys Ann Weiss
Technology Director: Ken Panko
Technical Advisors: Rodolfo Vieira, Natalie Roman, Vincent LaGrassa, Orzu Tursunova

Staff: Ally Ang, Amanda Dee, Amanda Vitale, Ashton Carlile, Christopher Lombardo, Corey Miller, Dane Hamann, Ellen Hainen, Emma Fuchs, Erika Carey, George Abraham, Gillian Barth, Holly Stovall, Ivis Whitright, Jackson McGrath, Jameka Williams, Jeremy Wilson, Jonathan Jones, Katana Smith, Kathryn O'Day, Liz Howey, Lydia Abedeen, Marcella Mencotti, Marissa Higgins, May Dugas, Megan Sullivan, Michaela Ritz, Michele Popadich, Morgan Eklund, Nimra Chohan, Puck Orabel, Rebecca van Laer, Salwa Halloway, Surya Milner, Susan Lerner, Suzanne Scanlon

Monday, January 15, 2024