Issue 4 Available Now

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Issue 4 of Sobotka Literary Magazine is available now here!

Sincerest thanks to everyone who was made this issue possible, especially the writers. We’re excited for people to read some amazing work. Feel lit in your bones!

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Editors’ Note for Issue 4

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The following is the full Editors’ Note for Issue 4:

“There are few things more frightening than being alone.

The solitary entrance into your new school’s lunchroom, hands gripping the flimsy plastic tray as if for physical protection. The silent wait on your doctor’s exam table, wax paper crinkling as you squirm in anticipation of a diagnosis. The empty stage before your first solo recital, a dull hum of conversation behind the closed curtain. The walk up to the open casket with only your memories and last remarks.

While these are all moments of loneliness, and certainly anxiety inducing, they are finite and conquerable. Real terror is infinite loneliness. True social isolation. That barren horizon that appears to keep rolling along ahead, regardless of your vain attempts to slow down and seek refuge in the care of a gentle friend or the compassion of a family member. Just a sad, endless marathon to death.

The majority of the two years we’ve spent working on this magazine thus far have been spent shifting closer towards the cusp of social isolation. Whether it be moving away from home to live alone in the outskirts of a new city or sacrificing days to build a skill set in a prospective career as friends disperse, we’ve found ourselves separate and alone, searching for stability in something other than the conversations and company of our core group of friends. We’ve had to rebuild our essential communities, find our space in our respective cities and occupy it the best we could. This magazine has served as a source of comfort and familiarity through the changes these past couple of years have brought, providing us a thread to a shared past and a foundation for a connected future. It has given us a sort of surrogate community where we could engage with and share the ideas of others even when our social circles were nearing nonexistent. Basically, it kept us from feeling we were running that marathon.

We’ve learned firsthand that literature can provide the community, both of place and purpose, necessary for avoiding the intellectual black hole of social isolation. You can find solace or strength in a story that puts words to something you thought you alone felt. A poem can express an emotion or an experience in a way that gives you a kind of clarity that simple, logical advice cannot. The acts of writing and reading should be a conversation, no matter how distant or indirect. They allow you to shape your perspective in response to the presented perspective of another.

In a time when political theater and its all-too-real repercussions have become bizarrely terrifying, the solace that sentences and stanzas can give becomes an invaluable resource for those reaching for a reassurance that love, community, and beauty can still exist in the face of hate, fear, and bigotry. Literature can provide a welcome escape from reality, but, more importantly, it can shape reality into something you don’t feel the need to escape from. It can provide you that vital conversation that assures you that you’re not alone in the often overwhelming swirl of stimulus or struggle to act in the face of a seemingly interminable slew of common tragedy.

The prose and poetry in this issue creates a conversation about the comfort and conflict that human connectedness causes, providing insight into the rewards and risks of closeness. Pleasure can be a placebo. Pain can be empowering. The acceptance that life is a continuous, unavoidable mixture of the two can provide a sense of calm knowledge. All the works in this collection gave us some sort of insight into the intricacies of people, both isolated and interconnected. Every piece is done with an empathy that touches and teaches us, like talking softly with a close friend.

Ultimately, they made us feel human and unalone. We hope they do the same for you.

Kathy Klimentowski/Nick Rossi
Chicago/Nashville, June 2016”

Issue 4 Editors Note 3

Issue 4 Jacket

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Here’s our jacket for Issue 4!

Prose by:
David Bersell
Brendan Cavanagh
Raul Clement
Brandon French
Matthew Hoch
Darius Jones
Kim Peter Kovac

Poetry by:
Lauren Ball
Gary Beck
Lauren Bender
Bob Carlton
Ivan de Monbrison
Timothy B. Dodd
William Ogden Haynes
M.B. Wharton

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Wordsmith Wednesday: Quarterbacks’ “Center”

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In anticipation of his forthcoming essays in Issue 4, we are proud to have our words this week provided by David Bersell.

For Wordsmith Wednesday, I’m looking at “Center,” from Quarterbacks’ self-titled album.

An excerpt:

“The night I first met you
We were dancing in the living room
And we kissed in front of everyone
I had waited two years to talk to you
I helped you move to your new house
We left handprints in the closet before we moved you out
I’m looking up at that room now
So I’m hoping that you come down

Because there’s such relief in coincidence
A universe that finally works out the way you always suspected
With yourself near the center”

After reading Amos Barshad’s fantastic profile of the band, I started listening to Quarterbacks songs before bed.

Like much of their work, “Center” describes a coming of age romance, balancing detail and brevity. It’s a story I’ve lived, have written too many times, am walking further away from the older I get—my first kiss was while slow dancing at a birthday party; I helped a girl pack and leave home every August until we weren’t kids anymore.

I listen for my favorite lines, after the narrative. “A universe that finally works out the way you’ve always suspected/with yourself near the center.” It’s a young hopeful thought that the speaker can’t resist. I hear the lyrics as a sustained note, a positive reflection of the Yeats lines Didion references in Slouching Towards Bethlehem: “Things fall apart; the center cannot hold.”

Before The Fader published Barshad’s article, Quarterbacks broke up. The band knew it would happen eventually. The bass player wanted to live with his girlfriend and play his own songs. The drummer’s anxiety made touring unbearable. The frontman was ready for a change, moved to Brooklyn, is looking for a teaching job, pays his bills delivering booze. There’s something beautiful about that, too.

– DB

qbs

Wordsmith Wednesday: The Roots’ “Make My”

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Our Wordsmith Wednesday this week is Black Thought’s verse from The Roots’ song “Make My” off their 2011 album, Undun.

The lyrics are:

“Trying to control the fits of panic/
Unwritten and unravelled/
It’s the dead man’s pedantic/
Whatever, see it’s really just a matter of semantics/
When everybody’s fresh out of collateral to damage and/
My splaying got me praying like a mantis/
I begin to vanish/
Feel the pull of the blank canvas/
I’m contemplating that special dedication/
To whomever it concern, my letter of resignation/
Fading/
Back to black/
My dark coronation/
The heat of the day/
The long robe of muerte/
That soul is in the atmosphere like airplay/
If there’s a heaven I can’t find the stairway”

Without delving too deep into personal connection with these lines, the masterful manipulation of language, or focusing on the fact that this verse is a curtain call on a classic tragedy of a concept album that unrolls in reverse, I want to highlight that these words always floor me with their effortless density and brilliant darkness. Black Thought expresses a dying man’s internal monologue, whether his fate is sealed by his own hand or by the hand of another man, eloquently navigating those final moments with a emotional and lyrical fabric that’s as beautiful in its bleakness as any exploration of the psychology of death I’ve ever read. This verse is the black diamond on an album full of lyrical gems.

– NR

the roots

Issue 4 Authors

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We proudly present our Issue 4 authors!

Prose by:
David Bersell
Brendan Cavanagh
Raul Clement
Brandy French
Matthew Hoch
Darius Jones
Kim Peter Kovac

Poetry by:
Lauren Ball
Gary Beck
Lauren Bender
Bob Carlton
Timothy Dodd
William Ogden Haynes
Ivan de Monbrison
M.B. Wharton

Sobotka Issue 4 Author Flyer

Wordsmith Wednesday: Do Make Say Think’s “A With Living”

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This week’s Wordsmith Wednesday is off of Do Make Say Think’s 2007 album You, You’re History in Rust, from the song entitled “A With Living.”
 
It reads,
 
“Lying down beneath the stars alone at last, I rest
feeling right feels good but being right is best
upshooting stars have their effect, perfect things left lain
oft our hands are held as perfect as our sleep
 
Heavy hearts come hold our hands took at last to understand
that light and dark are rust and all the rest is dust.”
 
 
As one of the few Do Make Say Think songs with lyrics, there is a heaviness, a weight, to these words that lull me into a sense of serenity with the weightlessness they are presenting. When I hear this song, in combination with his voice, there is this beauty that puts me at ease. Reminds me that everything in the world is small and malleable and we can make it into whatever we choose it to be.
 
– KK
domakesaythink

Wordsmith Wednesday: Jim Croce’s “Operator”

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This week’s words are from Jim Croce’s song “Operator” off his 1972 album, “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim.”

The lyrics are:

“Give me the number if you can find it/
So I can call just to tell ’em I’m fine/
And to show/
I’ve overcome the blow/
I’ve learned to take it well/
I only wish my words/
Could just convince myself/
That it just wasn’t real/
But that’s not the way it feels”

There’s something elementally Midwestern about Croce’s music to me. He’s at his best when he’s almost apologetically honest and vulnerable, crafting emotionally rich story-telling into something bite-sized. This song in particular with it’s use of one-sided phone conversation as a vehicle to work through the uncertainty and denial of a heartbroken lover shows his ability to navigate lyrical landscapes masterfully, capturing complex emotions and simplifying them enough to make them universal. His loss songs don’t wallow in sorrow, but have a certain accepting wistfulness that make them three dimensional and genuine. I always feel like I’m sharing the room with a straightforward sage when I’m listening to Jim Croce.

– NR

Croce

Wordsmith Wednesday: Jordaan Smith & the Horse Museum’s “Avalanches”

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This week’s Wordsmith Wednesday comes from the song “Avalanches” off of Jordaan Mason’s & the Horse Museum’s album Divorce Lawyers I Shaved My Head.

It reads:

“But if snow is like skin
It pulls away so easy
Right from the body
What if all stripped wood is branches
And all frozen lakes are water
Then our bodies will be avalanches
Then our bodies will be avalanches.”

These words do not necessarily tell a tale or attempt to concretely describe how one feels in a given moment or remind me of something that I have gone through; what these words do is resonate deep within me a feeling of the beginning. A feeling of the existence of something before a change ensues. He presents us with our own tumultuous past and leaves us to interpret an understanding of how this has molded us into our present selves. His words aren’t necessarily grounded in anything but the nature of our being and what has gotten us there.

– KK

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Wordsmith Wednesday: Keaton Henson’s “Small Hands”

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This week’s Wordsmith Wednesday is from the song “Small Hands” off of Keaton Henson’s album Dear. It goes,

“Get distracted by my music
think of nothing else but art
I’ll write my loneliness in poems,
if I can just think how to start”

A struggle that I never seem to be able to win is the tug of war between wanting to write, and create, and master, and actually being able to begin. One of the hardest parts of writing is conquering the fear of starting, the fear of creating something unworthy, so you stop, you quit before ever beginning. Appreciating, and getting lost in other people’s music is easy, but creating something yourself is a whole other ordeal. Once you begin though, once pen and mind are put to paper, the process of writing often flows naturally. All that is often needed is a nice, hard shove.

– KK

Keaton