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.
Submissions for Issue 4 are open until February 14th, 2016!
Please send us your poetry, prose, and creative nonfiction!
Find full submission guidelines here!
Issue 3 of Sobotka Literary Magazine is available now at:
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!
The following is the full Editors’ Note for Issue 3:
“Anxiety can either cripple or drive you.
It can drag you down like a stone, trapping you on the murky psychic riverbed to choke on seaweed and self-critique. It can be the palm that holds you underwater, screaming bubbles and scratching at the invisible force. It is the sound in the distance, the figure in the dark, the uncertainty of the answer to a difficult question. It is the thing that stops you from enjoying any taste of success by planting the thought of a more satisfying success just ahead yet unseen. It is FOMO and the neighborhood watch and small town racism and narrow-mindedness in all forms. It is the smoke break and the bitten-up fingertips and standing on the back porch at 4 am.
It can also be the motivation that forces you back to the surface, making you flap your arms until you figure out how to turn slapping hands into a doggy paddle into smooth strokes propelling you for as long as your mind muscles allow. Anxiety can feed off fear, turn frustration into fuel. It can be the foundation for great innovations, inspired music, transcendent literature. It is that thing that must be alleviated through expression, the need to take some internal pressure and spit it out into the world so that somebody else can chew on the idea for a while. It is the desire to find solutions.
The tricky conundrum is that anxiety can also suppress that expression, trapping everything inside your skull. What if what I think is stupid? What if what I made isn’t good? What if what I did isn’t important? What if people laugh in my face? What if they laugh behind my back? What if they laugh in the comments? What if nobody cares at all? Anxiety can be completely paralyzing to creativity, killing all motivation before the process has even begun. The effect can be especially fatal if the primary motivation is to create something impressive or cool in the eyes of others instead of trying to give a voice to that gnawing thought in your frontal lobe.
The real trap is allowing anxiety to breed off itself, choosing activities and developing habits that perpetuate rather than alleviate that stress weighing on your brain and strengthening that pressure pushing down from a place unseen. This seems to be the elemental basis for addiction, whether it be to drugs or beauty or success or anything else. They all appear born of the idea that acquisition or achievement of some formless, yet theoretically attainable, thing will take away the “bad stuff” i.e. the generalized anxiety associated with just being alive.
The catch of course is that if a little is good, then more must be better. And so we overdose. We want so desperately to relieve that near constant anxiety associated with not feeling good that we cease to even let the uncertainty enter our lives by developing habitual coping mechanisms. We get high. We apply makeup. We work to exhaustion. We check our phones incessantly, hoping for communication from a friend/acquaintance/news source/etc. We make sure the boogiemen of doubt and depression don’t creep into our minds by making sure every crevice is filled with entertainment or consumption or communication. We are constantly doing regardless of what is being done. Some may say we do these things to feel good, but it seems more likely we do them to not feel so bad. And there is a difference.
This magazine itself probably started as a way to relieve some anxieties we hadn’t wanted to face yet. Anxieties about achievement and value and creativity and success and death. The fear that we were just floating through life thoughtlessly, consuming without creating and, thus, feeling empty and unsatisfied. A looming uneasiness that we were stagnant, being pushed in directions we didn’t want to go because we were ourselves directionless. Neither of us had dreams of starting a literary magazine. This isn’t a career move or a resume builder. This isn’t about social capital or appearing intelligent to our peers. This isn’t self-worship. This is two lost people on a park bench. This is sure why not. This is screaming into the void. This is the need to do something.
The pieces of writing included in this issue are great examples of why we chose literature as our something rather than another medium. They make us feel connected to the authors, the world around us, and ourselves. They are nuanced and subtle yet moving, just as the more vivid parts of life often are. They relieve some of our own existential anxieties by giving us proof that people are finding ways to live despite the ever-present pressures. They inspire us to try and do the same.
Above all, they make us feel human and unalone. We hope they do the same for you.
Kathy Klimentowski/Nick Rossi
Chicago/Nashville, October 2015″
The following is the full Editors’ Note for Issue 1:
“Life as a human is hard. Plain and simple.
Life on this spinning rock is sometimes nasty, often brutish and always short. As digital technology continues to become more pervasive, ever increasing our connectedness to the other people scattered all over our floating space stone, it seems as though the Hobbesian state of nature counterintuitively becomes more present. We have constant and instant access to all of our species’ triumphs and tragedies, past and present, sitting side by side in our taskbar or in our App Store. Brunelleschi and beheadings in 1080p.
We live at a time of human hyper-cognizance, unprecedentedly exposed to the nastiness and brutality that exists in our midst and increasingly aware of the shortness of the time we have to counteract those forces. We are now confronted with everything all at once, all the time; consequently, we can feel powerless to affect anything. The empathetic twenty-first century human struggles with the knowledge that there is so much collective pain in the world and that there is relatively little they can individually do about it, especially as they deal with those growing feelings of alienation and lonesomeness that come from this realization. That sense of simultaneous responsibility and impotence can crush the spirit and/or strangle the soul.
It is out of an unconscious duty to this feeling of responsibility and to combat this feeling of impotence that Sobotka Literary Magazine was born. We believe literature provides an outlet for the alleviation and externalization of some of that intangible psychic pain that seems elemental to our experience, both for the author and the audience. A story can make us forget our personal pressures and a poem can give voice to an emotion we never noticed existed inside of us. Most importantly, literature provides us a unique insight into the experience of one of the other human beings that we share this tiny corner of the universe with and, in the best pieces, helps us learn a little about our own experience as well. David Foster Wallace expressed our sentiment well when he said of fiction, “There’s a kind of Ah-ha! Somebody at least for a moment feels about something or sees something the way that I do. It doesn’t happen all the time. It’s these brief flashes or flames, but I get that sometimes. I feel unalone — intellectually, emotionally, spiritually. I feel human and unalone and that I’m in a deep, significant conversation with another consciousness in fiction and poetry in a way that I don’t with other art.” With this first issue, we hope we can foster a conversation that helps writers and readers, not to mention ourselves, feel more human and less alone. To us, literature is the only medium that allows us to transfigure the nasty, brutish and short into something satisfying, beautiful and transcendent despite its transience.
We chose the following works not only for their inherent strength as individual pieces, but for their collective ability to give life and light to the bloody, beautiful nature of our existence here on this crowded sphere that we share. Every one of these stories and poems, while varied in structure and style, strengthened our belief in the illuminative elements of literature in a world that can too often seem dark and daunting.
We sincerely thank you for picking up this little booklet of printed words when you could be spending your time with any one of the billions of stimuli available to you at this very moment. We greatly appreciate the opportunity to have this conversation with you and look forward to speaking to you again sometime soon.
Above all else, we hope this makes you feel human and unalone.
Kathy Klimentowski/Nick Rossi
Sincere thanks to everybody who has been involved in helping us take this magazine from an idea born on a bus stop bench to being the box of books that is going to show up on Monday. Thank you.