Today there are forces trying their hardest to divide us. In the face of that, art in its many forms can give voice to our concerns, hopes, fears, anxieties—and joys. Art can provide solace. It can spur engagement. It can increase understanding. It can help us feel less alone. We have a common language, the language of story. In a way, it all comes down to stories: whether they’re told through words or visually or otherwise, stories remind us of our humanity. And anything that can remind us of that essential quality we all share is crucial, in my view. It may seem strange to think we could forget our humanity, but of course we know from history that it’s possible.
We can’t let it happen. We can’t make it through whatever is coming without each other. Thomas Paine described the need for community in the context of building a house:
Four or five united would be able to raise a tolerable dwelling in the midst of a wilderness, but one man might labour out the common period of life without accomplishing any thing; when he had felled his timber he could not remove it, nor erect it after it was removed…
My hope is that Scoundrel Time will be a more-than-“tolerable” dwelling, that you will come here and find works that help you to feel understood and to understand others, works that reflect your experience or illuminate the experiences of others, works that help you get through the night.
What You’ll Find in the Journal
I encourage you to read the editors’ thoughtful introductions to the poetry and fiction you’ll find in the journal. We publish new poetry, essays, and/or fiction nearly every week, as well as new humor and visual art. See, for instance, the occasional series of photographs by artist Erica Baum, the images of sculptures (and accompanying essay) by Wendy Richmond; fiction by Paul Lisicky, Ben Greenman, Carolyn Ferrell, Maria Saba, and Tracy O’Neill; poetry by Regie Cabico, Terese Svoboda, Jill McDonough, Rachel Hadas, and many more; plus an occasional featured poet portfolio and interview, like the most recent featuring Fady Joudah. Because our editors are too modest to mention it themselves, I want to note that their terrific work also appears in the journal; please look for it.
We are actively interested in publishing humor, especially because tyrants hate it when people laugh at them. See, for instance, an update of traditional proverbs, by Philip Hoover. In essays, we address topics like humor in this political climate (Tony Eprile); protesting the national anthem (Tara Campbell); Caligula (Valerie Block); asylum (Peter Trachtenberg); debt (Rachel Ann Brickner); reactions post-Charlottesville (Priya Balasubramanian); and Syrian refugees in Greece (Dana Sachs).
Despots and demagogues are a global threat, and, as such, our goal over the long term is to present a global set of voices. To that end, we offer Dispatches, or brief essays on the personal impact of events. For instance, Tony Mochama writes from Kenya about watching the American election; Carole Burns writes from Wales in the aftermath of the Brexit vote; Julie Upshur helps a young boy who is having a seizure; Rachel Leon watches her children cope; and Mostafa Fadi nearly drowns escaping from his home, Syria.
Please visit our Actions page, edited by Ellen Louise Ray, which is updated more frequently than any other page with recommendations for actions related to the concerns of artists and writers, but also of concern in the wider world. Check out the “Indivisible Guide” and other guidelines and advice regarding the most effective actions. Jodi will also call attention to relevant essays and other works that she finds around the web.
As we begin our second year of publication, we are joined by Peter Trachtenberg who brings his energy and enthusiasm to the role of Publisher. We are lucky and grateful to have the most dedicated team of editors and staff—all volunteers!—and talented contributors who have all donated their work for this effort. Everyone has worked hard and tirelessly to make this happen. Please visit our staff page and our contributor page to learn more about them. A special thank you to Will Amato for the many long hours spent putting together our website.
Scoundrel Time takes its name from a Lillian Hellman memoir of the HUAC years. A cautionary note.
If we all stand up, we can support each other.
Note: We are now open to fiction and poetry submissions via Submittable. Please see our guidelines for details. To query us about humor, essays/dispatches, and art, please send a note to our general mailbox.
Scoundrel Time is a 501(c)(3) organization. We accept and encourage your tax-deductible donations.