Call for Submissions: Journaling the Apocalypse
But we have speech, to chill the angry day,
And speech, to dull the roses’ cruel scent,
We spell away the overhanging night,
We spell away the soldiers and the fright.
—Robert Graves, “The Cool Web”
Autumn is upon us here in Quebec and central Pennsylvania. With it comes the third anniversary of qarrtsiluni, launched in late August 2005 originally as a place for literary and other bloggers to slow down and together try to create something of lasting value. We hesitated to call this bloggish, continuously published collection of themed anthologies a magazine at first, since it didn’t much resemble the established online literary magazines. Three years later, some of the early contributors have moved on, but many more have joined us — poets, writers, photographers, videographers, and artists of every description — to the point where our guest editors struggle to keep up with the influx of astonishingly high-quality submissions every two months. Things have changed a lot since the last time either one of us has been part of an editorial team, so we decided we’d better reacquaint ourselves with the process. What better way to mark the anniversary than for Beth and Dave to step out from behind the curtain and handle all the editing ourselves for the space of an issue?
The theme this time is Journaling the Apocalypse. Submissions are open now through the 6th of October, and we expect to begin posting around the beginning of October, after the present issue has concluded. (We are slowly adjusting to the idea that issues may need two and a half or three months to unfold, instead of just two.)
Our theme choice is a bit of a nod to qarrtsiluni’s roots in the literary/personal blog world, where journaling and journalism often merge. We’re used to thinking of apocalypse in terms of an indefinitely delayed doom, a Ragnarok. But in its original Christian milieu, it may have meant something far more immediate: Yeshua ben Yosef was apparently fond of saying that “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand,” and the New Testament Greek word apokalypsis meant simply the uncovering of a pre-existent truth or state of being. Francis Ford Copolla canonized this notion for a secular age in his reimagining of Heart of Darkness: Apocalypse Now. Especially in the last hundred years, apocalypses of one sort or another — war, genocide, ecocide, nuclear armageddon — have been woven into the fabric of our common nightmares, and now, faced with the evidence of accelerating global climate change, we sense that even our gloomiest prophecies may have been too optimistic.
If humanity — and the earth — survive the next hundred years, people will wonder: how could we have lived like this? How could we have borne the knowledge that we were bringing disaster upon ourselves and still continued to consume? What was it like to live through a slow-motion cataclysm? For this issue, we’re soliciting original writing, video, music, art and photography created in response to this self-destructive prophetic fire at the heart of our civilization — or any civilization (and there are many) with end-of-time myths. We’re not looking for grand syntheses, but concrete and intimate portraits of the earth’s inhabitants and landscapes as they approach ground zero. We hasten to add that light-hearted submissions are welcome too: sometimes humor is the quickest way to unveil unpleasant truths, and it can be a good survival mechanism, too.
Please limit submissions of poetry to five poems, and keep prose below 3000 words per essay or story. We encourage artists and photographers to send submissions of a half-dozen or more still images, since those don’t take nearly as long for us to evaluate.
Presuming the CERN supercollider doesn’t create a black hole that swallows the earth when it starts up the day after tomorrow, we’re planning to branch out into some exciting new ventures over the next year. We hope you’ll stick around.
—Dave Bonta and Beth Adams