Stone Telling

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Introduction: Labyrinth

by Shweta Narayan and J. C. Runolfson

modified from "Tunnels of the Labyrinth"
by Squiggle

When Rose first approached us to guest edit the fourth issue of Stone Telling, we weren't sure where the journey would take us, though we knew we wanted to continue her work in featuring voices often silenced, perspectives frequently distorted, and a multiplicity of experiences. She suggested we choose a starting theme, but told us that another one would arise organically from the submissions we received. So we sent out a call seeking pieces that were inter— international, interstitial, intersectional; but we watched the inbox keenly, wondering about the theme that would emerge.

We immersed ourselves in the breathtaking, heartbreaking pieces sent to us, and soon learned we would need that theme desperately — a thread to lead us through the twists of poetry to a shared heart, one that would help us choose from among so many great poems. We settled at first on transformation, becoming, the journey from one state to another; figured that change was the link between fierce poems and whimsical ones, between grief and hope and wry humor.

Then it came time to organize these poems into a cohesive issue, and we realized that they were all changing in different directions. However could we pull them all together? The joint effect of so many transformations was… well, it was labyrinthine.

And with that insight, the issue started to take shape.

Drawn into the poems' shifting views and changing directions, we saw other connecting threads — how the words of several pieces speak to us not only of change but of being changed, of seeing differently, redefining ourselves, the gains and losses we choose and that are chosen for us.  How several of the poems paint in negative space; what they don't say has shape, like the great stone silences of an underground maze — silences that we also see in older poets' work, discussed in the non-fiction.  How the twisting path takes us into darkness and out again, mirroring itself in places.  So our final theme emerged — and so did we, holding to the multi-corded thread our poets had spun.

We present that thread to you, in the form of this issue of Stone Telling.  Here, take hold, and walk its wondrous path.

We'll meet you on the other side.

Shweta Narayan and J. C. Runolfson, guest editors