As a fledgling journalist back when our weapons of choice bore names like Underwood and Royal, rather than Apple and Dell, among my first lessons was to expunge space-eating adjectives and adverbs wherever and whenever possible. If you missed one or two there was always a grizzled editor with a freshly sharpened Ticonderoga Number One all to ready to do the job for you. But I cannot resist dipping into my long neglected collection of splendidly scintillating descriptive words and phrases to label Anna Schachner’s wonderful “Silvia,” which opens this issue, as a paradigm of exquisite prose, and Sue Ellen Thompson’s poem, “At 89, My Father Takes Up Swearing,” as downright hilarious and brilliantly poignant. 

Both Schachner and Thompson are writers who have deservedly achieved distinguished reputations. I was thrilled to learn that the former is working on a novel that I, for one, can hardly wait to read, and I harbor a sneaking suspicion that even the latter’s laundry list would somehow touch my soul. 

Heidi Shuler and Sandra Ramirez are new writers whose future work should be well worth following. Shuler’s affinity for creatures great and small is eloquently expressed in her poems “Breakfast with a Buffalo” and “Armadillo Love.” Ramirez’ creative nonfiction essay “Stray” marks her as a story-teller who demands your attention, holds it tenaciously, and when the words come to an end the tale remains with you, maybe forever. 

Those poets among you will want to check out our new poetry contest. Free State Review will award $300 and a bushel of crabs to the winner, and $50 and a few claws for the runner up. Notable mentions will also have a chance to publish. 

I’m so excited about our line-up of contributors in this issue, I could go on and on. But this would only delay your journey of discovery. By all means, immerse yourself in our latest festival of words and enjoy. 

H. N. Burdett