Lately I have been trying to understand what demarcates monologues, dialogues and conversations. In academia a clear-cut, black-and-white tight rope separates the three, but in art they seem to become one very quickly. When a piece invites itself to be read, a conversation (whether between the writer and reader, or otherwise) is necessitated. When a singular voice is answered by a singular voice, they start to speak together—to each other and at the same time.
One of many things we may learn from Safwan Khatib’s “Empire With a Harp Inside It,” this year’s recipient of Adroit Prize for Poetry (selected by Safiya Sinclair), is that even the speech that most wants to remain a monologue ultimately struggles to “hear you for the winds, For their once-terrible invitations.” The invitations to speak to others, for Khatib, are and will always be there. It is only a matter of seeing them and listening for them.
Charity Young’s “Sabratha,” winner of the 2017 Adroit Prize for Prose (selected by Allegra Hyde), presents a world in which “[Mother’s] speech degraded, imperceptibly at first and then with a sudden drop.” In confessing that “[Mother] stopped mentioning the places and names that were fundamental to her charm, her promise of indulgence as a mode of existence,” Young unpacks what happens when the ability to converse is usurped: to only be able to speak to oneself is to lose oneself. To rely on monologue and solely monologue is to lose the rest of the world.
The perks of entering into a conversation are abundant. In “A Beacon’s A Candle That’s Overachieved,” Bob Hicok writes, "Now that I’ve told you, you’re richer by an immeasurable degree of hopping.” Here, Hicok encapsulates the transformative effects at the core of dialogue.
All the voices in this issue have the intention to indeed make you "richer". If you find any of the pieces of Issue 21 to be shy enough to speak only to themselves, I invite you to approach them, to talk to them. Find the dialogue inherent to their existence, and yours.
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Christos Kalli, born in Larnaca, Cyprus, is currently studying for his undergraduate degree in English Literature at the University of Glasgow. His poetry has been recently shortlisted for the Jane Martin Poetry Prize, and his INT. NIGHT was a finalist for the Sutra Press Chapbook Contest. His work can be found in or is forthcoming from The American Journal of Poetry, The Adroit Journal, The Los Angeles Review, the minnesota review, [PANK], and Barely South Review, among others.
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