In “Ghosts of Venice” we are privy to the inner thoughts of Gil, a man living in Venice Beach. He starts his day trying to mend his relationship with his girlfriend after fighting the night before. Gil has two powerful forces acting within him: his analytical/logical thought system, and his irrational impulses. Gil tries to understand the dynamics of what makes himself and others happy, while ironically causing his own pain. The story asks these fundamental questions: Who are we? Do we choose our identities or are they chosen for us? And, do we get to choose what we want?
‘Caul’ is a short story about the passage of time and how memory is what ties us to our existence. In this short story, the narrator observes and understands what was taking place in his family and the lives of his neighbours; through this understanding, he empathises with their experiences. No matter how much time passes, memory is still relevant and is part of identity — even if the physical environment has changed, the history that underpins a place is still relevant.
The following poems reflect on the ideas of identity and legacy. Regardless of how humankind evolves, a seminal question remains: what have we left for the world after we’ve gone? Though many of us prefer to assume that we have a special assigned significance in this world, the truth is that none of us are inherently superior to another. As COVID-19 raises our fear of mortality, these poems remind us that the most invisible existence can leave something of value in its wake, but that we must pay attention in order to notice that legacy.
A common human experience is feeling our differences outweigh our similarities, amounting to the formation of groups we feel we can identify with. The formation of socio-political groups based on religion, race, social background, or class (i.e. identity politics) has become a primary feature of the modern culture wars in the United States as a method for rectifying historical wrongs and engaging with social justice — but is this way of thinking helping? “Lafayette #2” grapples with these cultural qualms and what it means to hold a particular identity amidst societal upheaval.
What experiences shape our life trajectories and sense of self? What roles do family heritage, state formation, and linguistic and cultural barriers have in creating a person? Are we just byproducts of events and nature, both outside our control? The following personal essay focuses on the author’s background as a refugee from the former Yugoslavia and makes the case for why we should think of the ‘refugee experience’ as a distinct category from the larger ‘immigrant experience.’ The author argues that because refugees are forcibly displaced from their home countries, they have a unique relationship both to the places from which they had to leave as well as the places in which they ultimately end up.