written by Kelly McMasters
So much has changed in our world since we first imagined Windmill in February 2016. Initially, the endeavor was meant to build a synergistic bridge between two programs at the heart of our English Department: Hofstra’s MFA
in Creative Writing and our undergraduate concentration in Publishing Studies. That the two should join forces to build a literary journal felt like a natural extension of their dual focuses on art and publication; in practice, the collaboration between these groups of students worked as an amazingly elegant solution.
In this first issue, Team Windmill is honored to showcase a wide array of brilliant thinkers and writers, including master creativity scholar Gerard Puccio; translator and new faculty member Valeria Luiselli; poet phenom Sampson Starkweather; and essential essayist Phillip Lopate, who is such a fundamental part of Hofstra’s creative writing history. Our selected writers include the established and emerging, ranging from veteran novelist and short story writer Alix Ohlin to sophomore computer science major Julian Fernandez. Our writers’ stories and homes span the globe, from Brooklyn to Tel Aviv, Nigeria to Alaska, Washington to West Virginia. As disparate as they are, each piece has what we hope will be the Windmill hallmark: strong narrative that is moving, interesting, and true.
While our focus is on the creative work, we’d be remiss to not remark on the experience of producing a new journal dedicated to literature and art during the 2016 Presidential election cycle. That the publication of our inaugural issue will be timed nearly simultaneously with another inauguration is coincidence, but feels strangely fitting. Here at Hofstra, we were right in the fray since our university hosted the first debate between Secretary Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The campus and our editorial meetings rippled with energy, an energy that shifted in size and shape after the votes were counted. A week after the election, Hofstra hosted essayist and poet Lia Purpura through our Great Writers, Great Readings series. Purpura, known for her laser-like ability to see the surprise of beauty in corporeal realities we typically dismiss with disgust (think rotting food and flesh, the dead body of a bird) spent the night reading from her work and talking about the power and primacy of writing—not just political writing, but simply artistic response, attention to beauty, and protecting the holy grail of language. We were grateful to her for reminding us we had a job to do.
When we named our journal after a wind-driven wheel, it was this idea of work that we liked so much, leaning on a kind of physics-based de nition, as in force over distance. We hoped to conjure the feeling of a place where, for centuries, townsfolk gathered to share stories as they waited for their grain to be processed, a kind of grassroots version of the village square. We also drew inspiration from the way these sleek and steel turbines have become agents of change in their own right, leading us from our storytelling past to the in nite possibilities of our future.
And so, as 2017 dawns, here is our windmill: its slender form and its powerhouse function, its heavy grey stones, its slicing silver blades, its pinioning swirl, waving its arms around in the air, making room for beauty and for all of our words.
With such hope,