Welcome to our gorgeous new website! We hope you find it easy to navigate so you can enjoy all of the wonderful content on offer in Issue O.5.
Some of you may be wondering why we’ve changed the format for our online issues. Previously, we produced the fall issue using the ISSUU platform, which was a great pedagogical tool. The Fourth River is produced out of an MFA practicum, and I (Sheila) liked the way it offered my students a similar experience of making the book each semester. I’m glad we tried it out. We made some beautiful books.
But I’ve heard talk, too. You writers, you readers out in the wide literary world—some of you find PDF readers frustrating. Some of you say that you will not even read a journal that uses them. (You know you’re missing out on some great stuff, right?) We have heard you! We can take constructive critique! The most important thing for us, ultimately, is that the excellent work of our talented contributors reaches its audience easily. We think this format simplifies things, making the online journal easier to read and to share. We hope you’ll do that with abandon. We’re not looking to go viral (though we wouldn’t decline such fame either!), but nothing pleases us more than seeing our contributors’ work linked, shared, tweeted into the world.
O.5 is special for a number of reasons. First, because of our new format. Special thanks to our Managing Editor, Sam Smith, who basically built this site all by herself. It’s more work than you might imagine, and she accomplished this in the middle of a full time grad school schedule. Brava, Sam! And cheers as well to my stellar staff who meet me on the third floor of Lindsay House every Monday afternoon to talk and to read and to do. Simply put, the journal would not exist without their labor or their love. Thanks to genre editors, Heather McNaugher and Marc Nieson, and to Executive Editor, Sheryl St. Germain. Thank you Bill Campbell and Brett Smith for opening this digital space for us. We’re thrilled to move in!
Second, because it houses incredible content—poetry, fiction, nonfiction, visual art and the Folio Prose Award-winning essay, “Backstreet Freestyle (The Time I Got Arrested at Afropunk) by Jasmine Salters. We’re grateful to guest judge Ira Sukrungruang for his keen eye in choosing this vibrant, vivacious piece for us to showcase.
And finally, the issue is special because its launch takes place at a time of great pain. We on the editorial staff want to acknowledge the horrific murders that took place last Saturday just across the street from our office at the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill. Eleven beautiful lives brought to a hateful, violent, senseless end. We are all still trying to wrap our heads around it. It’s going to be a long road.
The Fourth River is a journal of nature and place, and our place is Pittsburgh. We live and work between the sprawling green spaces of Frick and Schenley Parks. We head to Murray Ave. in Squirrel Hill for pizza or deli or the best Chinese food you ever ate. And, of course, we are writers. We trade in words and believe them to have the ability to heal...eventually. But here in this raw moment, while flowers accumulate at the memorial on Wilkins Ave, and a multitude of funerals process from the neighboring synagogues, we have none that could possible encompass the tremendous grief so many are feeling. None that could adequately describe or assuage their pain.
Still, we dedicate this issue to the victims and offer our love and condolences to the whole of the Pittsburgh Jewish community--and particularly to the family members grieving these terrible losses.
May we all have peace,