Issue 6 of Sobotka Literary Magazine is available now here!
Thank you to everyone involved for their work, help, encouragement, and support. We are psyched to be giving these authors a platform and hope people will feel lit in their bones if they check out this issue!
This week’s Wordsmith Wednesday comes from the song “Indica” off of Foxing’s album Dealer.
“And if so, do I haunt their parents’ dreams?
And in so, am I summarized by sounds of young lungs screams?
Their young ones screams (…)
And if so would I bring their parents peace
And if so, could I give back the sounds of their children’s screams?
Let go of what I’ve seen”
Often when we think of what defines us, we see it as what we surround ourselves with or what we hope people’s perspectives of us are. Our actual physical actions and consequences are peripheral. Though here, within these lyrics, we are faced with the lingering, haunting effects of what we have done. How it feels as though it becomes and defines us. Foxing points to the unanswerable questions we are faced with when we return from war and the constant questioning and enduring reminders of our actions. The immeasurable weight that is on our shoulders and the inconceivable horrors we have committed and attempted, successfully or not, to come to terms with, these are the things that sometimes feel as tough they define us. A past that is out of our control. A past that we can’t shake off. A past that can endure as a summary of our existence.
Though often impossible to move out of the forefront of your mind, these past actions do not have to act as our identity. We are more than that as long as we allow ourselves to be. We can not change what has already happened but can change what we do next.
Our words this week come from Nas’ track “One Love” off of his 1994 classic, Illmatic.
The lines are:
“But, yo, guess who got shot in the dome piece?
Jerome’s niece on her way home from Jones Beach
It’s bugged, plus Little Rob is selling drugs on the dime
Hanging out with young thugs that all carry 9s
And night time is more trife than ever
What up with Cormega? Did you see him? Are y’all together?”
The textual cadence of these words is only a shadow of the spoken delivery, but the internal rhymes and crisp colloquiality of Nas’ lyrics are undeniable. Illmatic is full of dense, image intensive verses but the stylized envisioning of letters to jailed friends found on “One Love” has always stood out to me. The conversational relation of urban tragedy/reality is presented with such familiarity and frankness that I instantly relate to the unnamed recipient of Nas’ news. I feel the sadness of a little girl from the neighborhood being shot dead while walking home. I feel the anger of knowing another young kid from the block is getting involved in the same nonsense that killed that innocent child. I feel the guarded closeness between separated male friends, the commrodary of shared struggle. The clear-eyed bitterness and empathetic realism in Nas’ lyrics on Illmatic is part of the reason the record is a masterpiece, but the unique creative vision and flawless execution on “One Love” make it a touchstone for urban storytelling in my eyes/ears/mind.
This week’s Wordsmith Wednesday is an excerpt from Cursive’s song “The Great Decay” off their album Burst and Bloom.
“This is the bed I’ve made/
This is the grave where I will lay/
These are the hands where I will bury my face.
I don’t believe in wasting time/
Searching for truth you never find/
Nobody moves we live in the great decay.
All these ghost towns share a name/
All these strangers look the same/
Day after day after day.”
Tim Kasher grasps at the mundane and uneventfulness that often encompasses life. The sameness that we experience and feel everywhere we go. Through these lyrics he points directly, with his index finger, at the parts of life that can tear us down and waste our time. This pointedness acts as a calling to break the cycle of monotony and progress forward toward a world, or even just a life, more exciting and different. To push past the tedium that wears one down and create a place unique from all the rest.
After a brief hiatus for the holidaze, we’re back with another Wordsmith Wednesday. This week we’re highlighting a lyric from Bully’s song “Milkman” off their 2015 debut record Feels Like.
The lines are:
“I could be a milkman,
Or I could get up and could be what I want to be”
Alicia Bognanno’s words deftly engage an anxiety that exists around work and worth in our culture that discourages many people from even attempting to do anything that doesn’t translate directly into (a sense of) financial stability. There’s a stigma against pursuing any type of “dream” that doesn’t fit neatly into an American Dream of prosperity through practicality that it seems is all but dead. When I’ve felt discouraged or lazy this past year, especially in regards to the magazine or my own writing, I’ve tapped these lines for some motivation. Some days are easier than others, but I’m still trying to get up every day.