Josephine Ensign to Read at Elliot Bay Books

Contributor Josephine Ensign, whose essay “Gone South” appeared in Silk Road Vol 6.1, will read for the 2011 EDGE writers final presentations at the The Elliot Bay Book Company, 1521 Tenth Avenue, Seattle on Saturday, March 26 from 1:00 to 4:00 pm.

Josephine Ensign’s essays have appeared or are forthcoming in The Sun, Silk Road, The Oberlin Alumni Magazine, and Calyx. She currently is completing a narrative nonfiction book entitled Catching Homelessness, the story of her work as a nurse practitioner providing health care for homeless people, while navigating her own passage through homelessness. She teaches health policy and narrative medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Silk Road has a New Look

The Silk Road Tent

The Silk Road website has had several different looks during its six-volume life from a black and red theme to the yellow and camel. And, in honor of going to two issues a year, it is time for a brand new look. The camel has gone off to the barn and been replaced with a traveler’s tent (artwork by Vol. 6.1’s cover artist Orna Ben-Shoshan), and the bright yellow, red, and orange have been replaced by colors that bring to mind the desert at night—the time when travelers tell stories. Ok, that might be reaching, but the red reminds us of our roots with Pacific University, the orange of websites past, and the teal and brown just look so gosh darn good together.

The new issue of Silk Road embraces the surreal with our first color cover by Orna Ben-Shoshan. Contents include the playfully risqué high school trip to Italy depicted in “Dropping Trou” by Dan Pinkerton and the haunted playgrounds of a Southern childhood conjured in nonfiction by Josephine Ensign. The poetry and prose in Vol. 6.1 snaps together into an arresting whole that delights and challenges. In an interview with Dorianne Laux, we ask how the poet creates her own remarkable books.

So check out our new look and order the new issue!

A Peek into the New Issue, Vol. 6.1

By Valerie Horres

Color. It’s the first thing I noticed about our newest issue, Vol. 6.1 when I got a sneak peek. A marvelous teal embraces the material of this edition of Silk Road, hugging the white pages like azure sky wraps around the cloud on the cover. And, like a cloud coalesced from thousands of droplets of dew, this issue contains stories spun from spider webs of memory, and from imagination.

Bound within these pages are three stories of nonfiction, seventeen poems, six fiction pieces, and one interview. The pieces confront the complexity of being human, as do other writings in different literary magazines, yet these do so with a sort of mist-magic. A flickering, a surrealism, a flash. You do not know if the images were really ever there, or if they were conjured by your mind, but nonetheless the words stick there anyway. The echoes continue to sound deep within, never quite letting you go.

Ghosts wander in the whiteness between the lines like the halls of haunted mansion, they linger in time between turning the pages. Ghosts of agony, ghosts of woe, of misery, guilt, regret, lost hope, unrequited desire—all reverberate through this Winter/Spring issue of Silk Road. A phrase Josephine Ensign writes in her essay “Gone South” could be applied to the entire magazine: it is “full of an alchemy of agony and awe.”

These stories and poems tell a bitter tale: that our lives may never be perfect. They are too full of conflict, of drama. We get hurt. We feel pain. Yet, these stories provide relief from our ghosts: we do not simply have to fear that the dead remain, but we can find succor that echoes exist of the once-living. The stories in Silk Road allow us to see beauty in the horrific. The authors of the included pieces offer up glittering images and visions that transform simple suffering into something achingly meaningful. They feed our urge to grow something good out of the bad, just like Karin Lin-Greenberg’s narrator in her story “Weight”: “What can I do but water and wait and hope that something good will grow?” This is exactly what the stories do: provide us with hope. The authors summon the ghosts and the dark so we might further recognize the extraordinariness of the brightness of life and color. What they have written are the contacts so that we might see the teal sky and the misty cloud, the ghosts and the living, a little more clearly. What we now choose to look at with our unclouded eyes is up to us.