VOLUME 1 NUMBER 1
Up the Creek
Welcome to the Wild River Review, an interactive exchange of writers, artists, and thinkers examining our shared experience through a prism of stories. As co-founder and editor, I have a deep appreciation for the artist’s voice because it speaks so intimately to my own.
Since I was a small child, I’ve fancied myself to be a collector of stories. I remember my grandfather talking to me as he sat in his green, nubby-wool easy chair, a lace doily pinned to the headrest to protect the chair from his Brylcreemed head.
In German-accented English, he spoke of his love for the East German city of Berlin, “the most beautiful city in the world.” How in the years after the First World War, he would put on a suit and tie, and with his cousin leave his village by train to sit in the lobbies of the grand hotels on the Kurfurstendamm, the city’s glittering main boulevard. “Oh, we watched the ladies,” he would say, with a chuckle. “And sometimes we would buy them a glass of beer.” Already I knew there was more to the story and so I invented the rest ending in his meeting my grandmother, something which in reality, had occurred years earlier in his own village.
Later, I toured America with my parents and siblings in a black and yellow Chevy Caprice stopping at places like Deadwood on the edge of the Badlands, where we children imagined ourselves to be cowboys and cowgirls. Finally, I traveled on my own through Europe into the Aegean region across Turkey to every border I could reach. Except, I never went to Berlin. An image had lodged in my head in black and white of my grandparents’ village before the rise of Nazism, an Eden of sorts where time had stopped, where farm chores and church-going and dancing at the beer garden on Sundays were a matter of course. Instead, I spent years immersed in the time period before and after the war and wrote a never-published novel.
My personal history and travels have continued to make me question the way our world works, how other cultures see the world, what we forget and remember, where we intersect. I have sought out answers in print, visiting every bookstore I can find in every country.
For more than fifteen years, I’ve edited thousands of manuscripts, and written my own stories often about travelers confronting new cultures. In addition, I’ve edited journals, story collections, and chap books, all in the sensuous and tactile medium of ink and paper.
But the one thing my beloved print medium can’t do is bring readers, thinkers, and artists together in an interactive forum; hence, the birth of the Wild River Review. While none of our staff believes the Internet will replace print, we do believe that the Internet can provide an opportunity for the cross-pollination of cultures and ideas, traversing borders in a way no other medium can.
We hope you’ll find our vision reflected in our debut issue, where we feature a roster of artists and thinkers with a special emphasis on Turkey, a country currently in the running to become part of the European Union. Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk talks about his latest book and what it’s like to rely on translators. Another well-known and controversial Turkish writer, Elif Shafak, describes her upbringing in Europe and what it’s like to teach at an American university.
Cultural historian William Irwin Thompson’s epic poem, Canticum Turicum, which takes the reader from Cambridge to Zurich to New York City and places in between, appears in its entirety here, something we wouldn’t have been able to do in a print journal. In addition, we’ve embedded links within the interview, which will enhance and define the numerous subjects Thompson discusses, creating a cyber palimpsest.
In Airmail, we gather voices from around the world, offering intimate views of daily life in places we might not get a chance to visit. And hopefully, we’ll find a columnist willing to write about present-day Berlin. In Comics, we present another intersection, that of language and image. And our bloggers will take he plunge and share their most intimate thoughts on the writing life.
We hope you’ll browse the site, find your favorite columns, and return to them for updates. And we encourage you to contact us. Tell us where you agree. Disagree. Educate us. Enlighten us. Challenge us.
When you join us on this journey, you join in our excitement, worry, and in places where we might feel uncomfortable (like when we sit next to someone on a plane who doesn't look like us).
Beginning a journey requires a leap of faith that a new and different world is within our grasp. And the funny thing is, the journey never turns out the way we imagined. Because ultimately the people we meet, the stories they tell, the stories we bring back, shape us as much as we shape them.
Joy E. Stocke