Every year this position reveals to me an incredibly diverse and full picture of the writing world. With each of the hundreds of literary magazines submitting well over a thousand pieces of literature in total that have been published over the last twelve months, I am in a unique position to read and enjoy all of this work without having to decide which publications will move on as finalists or be selected for inclusion in the anthology. I just get to read the works and marvel at you all.
Since I am one of the lucky people in the literary world that is exposed to so much from so many, allow me to proclaim to all of you who submitted or had your work submitted for the 2018 Best of the Net Anthology that I was blown away this year. You are wild. You are passionate. You are all monuments and no pedestal. You left no spectrum fallow. You explored the world in front of you, and created new worlds I didn't know could exist. I read your love, your anxiety, and even your stillness in new ways this year.
As a poet and artist myself, I am always drawn to work that has been translated or delves into narrative or emotional terrain that is foreign to me. I don't spend a lot of time reading work that is similar to mine, because other than technique there isn't a lot for me to learn about the world from work like that. So, thank you to all of you that showed me your own dynamic phrasing, your lingering, your queerness, your clean and concise weaponry, and your ricochets of talent.
Reading all of these pieces is a new degree in contemporary works for me every year. I can't always meet the strange new heights you folks show me, but without knowing you are out there, my own writing would certainly take far fewer chances at real heights and real accomplishment.
I always try to make the work I read somehow fit into the landscape of the last year, but for every work I read that commented or challenged that landscape, there was another that redesigned my thinking about the world or just burned it down in the most significant of ways.
Let us call this flex of art what it is: an energy and a music held in display for those who need to be reminded that survival and joy can feature the sharp edges of protection, of anger, of revolution. Take these stories, these essays, and these poems as the adrenaline that they are. Be proud that these monuments we most love are leaning forward, not to provide new shadow, but to warn those standing in front of us who wish to deny us our full humanity, that we care more than they do. They were never going to outlast us, and now that the blood has rushed to their heels, all they're left to do is marvel at our beauty as it passes them by.
Darren C. Demaree
Managing Editor, Best of the Net