Welcome back to Windmill! We’ve been extremely busy here at Hofstra this semester, from celebrating the launch of our first issue at AWP 2017 in Washington, DC, to enjoying campus visits through the Great Writers, Great Readings series from A. Van Jordan and Susan Orlean. The redoubtable Rebecca Solnit also came as a guest of the Hofstra Cultural Center for Women’s History Month and agreed to be interviewed for the literary magazine. In her interview, she asked, “If we want the world to be better, do we have to wait until everything’s perfect before there’s pleasure?”
We feel this issue of Windmill responds with a resounding “no.” There is much work to be done in the world, as well as in the classroom, but what we hope this issue of Windmill puts forth is the suggestion that the pleasure of beauty, sound, and strong narrative is not to be shelved. From Jenny Bhatt’s masterfully sensorial short story “Life Spring” to Jericho Parms’s achingly stunning essay “A Theory of Substance” from her new book Lost Wax (University of Georgia Press, 2017), we hope to underscore the idea that taking pleasure—in the mundane and the mystical, the disturbing and the decadent, the silly and the strange—is, ultimately, a worthy practice, even as the world shifts unsettlingly under our feet.
Although this is our second issue, in many ways this is an edition of firsts. When we initially dreamt of Windmill, our publisher, Melissa Connolly, and I imagined an entirely student-run publication, and this issue is the first to be produced along with the undergraduate Publishing Studies practicum. The class used our first issue (Winter 2017, Volume 1) as a textbook, keeping what worked and refining what didn’t. The junior and senior students had a hand in building the book from the ground up, helping our MFA students choose the work, and then editing, copyediting, and even, in some cases, writing the pieces. Undergraduate Gary Duff interviewed critic Margo Jefferson, and MFA students Dayna Troisi and Lily Vu profiled powerhouse poets Liv Mammone, our selection for Windmill’s signature mini-chapbook, and professor Phillis Levin, for our Faculty Spotlight.
This is also the first time the issue was designed on campus; with the convivial guidance of undergraduate phenom Keaton Ramjit, who has seen us through two issue cycles as Managing Editor now, the class talked margins and fit, kerning and four-color process. The students looked at budgets, retooled our digital presence, built a social media platform, and considered web content accessibility standards like section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.
Much consideration was given to the visual construction of the issue, as Emily Nguyen writes about in her Art Editor’s letter. Featured artist Timna Tarr’s quiltwork rests on color and small compositions; this issue of Windmill is like one of Tarr’s quilts in that way, with each block constructed as its own independent element, coming together as a whole to tell a multi-faceted story. Along with having a hand in all parts of putting this book together, each student took ownership of a web series, exploring current literary considerations from the state of creative nonfiction to the way social media is joyfully disrupting the status quo of the publishing pipeline. Many of our print stories have digital components; we hope you check out these additional layers at HofstraWindmill.com.
In closing, I return to Solnit, who says, “I think pleasure can be very subversive and it can also have a kind of depth to affirm the value of some- thing like autonomy, solitude, and wild landscape.” Cover artist Laura McManus’s painting Strawberry Moon Riverside captures perfectly this sentiment, and what we hope is the small gesture of the book as a whole. The mix of movement and isolation, the tumble of clouds in the sky against the darkness of that wild landscape, the way moonlight changes the way we see the world: this is what we hope to give to you with our second issue, and all those to come.