I hope that this message finds you well, and that you will accept our sincerest apologies for our absence. Some of the core values of our literary magazine center around having a place of refuge, expression, and healing. This is a fundamental need for every person at some point in life. Sometimes, we simply need a break. This is one of those times for us over here at Weatherbeaten. We love hosting this safe space, and will return to it soon, but for now we are going on hiatus.
The four of us together have reached places of change in our journeys—career changes, moving, expecting a first child, going back to school, caring for a sick parent, as well as everything else that life throws at us (read: adulting and existential dread). This is a time in which we need to get our bearings and focus on our new normals.
The great news is: we have a new issue for you! When you look at this issue you will quickly notice that it has only one piece of writing. This one piece is especially close to our hearts. Last year’s devastating fire in Northern California is not just a headline for us, it is home. All of our editors lived in Chico or Paradise, and one still does. The people affected by this fire are our friends, families, teachers, mentors, beloved local community, and ourselves. We felt moved to not only dedicate our issue to the victims of the fire, but to focus solely on it.
In this issue, we bear witness to one voice as a way of honoring the people and place we love. We listen with our hearts and invite you to do the same. Sending help, supplies, and money are crucial to survival. Listening is crucial to healing.
With gratitude and love,
Paradise Lost/Paradise Regained
Creeping flames, enveloping trees in the background, could now be seen all around the limited view of the lens. Wyvern plumes blacked the sky, leaving a hellish glow as the only source of light. Propane tanks popped in the near distance while typically firm voices cracked with increasing dread. Devastation through pixels. One doesn’t usually know the people on the other end of viral disaster videos.
On November 8th, 2018 Paradise burned.
* * * * * *
I was watching Pacific waves crash when the calls, texts, and videos started rolling in. It was an unusually serene morning on the Oregon coast, and I was preparing for the first day of the ORAHEAD conference, the biannual conference for the Oregon Association of Higher Education and Disability, when the homes of my friends and family were reduced to ash and rubble.
I lived in Paradise for twelve years. It’s where I met my wife. It’s where our three beasties adopted us. It’s where I found my family. Though I moved away nearly three years prior to the fire, it’s where I found home.
Fellow Weatherbeaten travelers, I apologize for the radio silence. It has been a long, dead winter. Though the clouds have broken and we’re past the cruelest months, the path forward remains challenging. Not a day goes by where the impact of the Camp Fire isn’t lamented by a loved one, even in the most tangential of senses. My people, my team, my tribe are still hurting. Clean up of the Camp Fire continues. Time marches on but many affected seem frozen in place, and the landscape, disfigured and scarred, is carved like a monument to loss.
Readers, I desperately wanted to publish this issue six months ago, but couldn’t muster the resolve. Amidst all of the fine submissions we received, none seemed to match the gravitas of one—a previously untitled prose poem originally posted by its author on Facebook. While it indeed examines that aforementioned loss, it also looks at what remains and points to a reconciliation—a way home. I can’t think of a more apt example of what Weatherbeaten stands for, both as a literary publication and an ethos.
Beyond that embodiment of our endeavor, this issue represents a pause. It leaves me with a heavy heart to announce the indefinite hiatus of Weatherbeaten. The magazine’s work remains, but life has left us editors scattered. Currently, my wife and I are expecting our first child. My fellow editors are returning to school and caring for loved ones, among other existential crossroads.
This isn’t an end, good-bye, or farewell, but rather a “see you later.” We’ll be back. Our work isn’t finished. Like the rebuild effort in Paradise, we’ll return eventually. It will be Paradise regained.