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Letter from the Editor: January

Or…Why I Love Tidings of Magpies (In which we try to justify our existence)

I hope you will forgive a little New Year’s introspection. Tidings of Magpies has been described as a “small but mighty labor of love.” And indeed, that is what it is for me. Curating and compiling these articles is a lot of work, to be sure, but it is probably the most rewarding work I’ve ever done. I’m not going to lie, not a day goes by that I don’t think, “Why bother?” And the answer always starts as “Why not?” but in the end I usually arrive at a stronger argument to keep on with it.

Sometimes it seems we live in sad and cynical world, and it’s easy to feel disconnected and discouraged. Surely the best way to fight the darkness that surrounds us is to share art and music and thoughtful writing. And it goes further than that for me, because I love, really love, everything that I’ve shared. And I love it more as I format the work, the more I look and read and understand. And I love it more as I think about how it’s all connected, as I did yesterday, on a grey and gloomy New Year’s Eve, after a couple of years that have been hard for everyone in ways we could never have anticipated.

It’s not a coincidence that I would find patterns in the work we’ve shared, or that those patterns delight me. All of the paintings and photographs and essays and poems that we’ve shared ask more questions than they answer. They’re all poised on the beautiful, murky, poignant edge between humans and nature, light and dark, abundance and decay, society and solitude. They ask what it means to be human, how we find a place in the world around us–the world of man that we’ve created, and the world of nature that we encroach upon. They all ask how we navigate time and history and memory. We need to ask the questions though we will never arrive at the answer, and there’s great joy in the feeling that we’re all walking along this edge together, finding our own balance as we go. And great joy in sharing the stories and pictures and music that have given us light and hope along the way, with generosity and affection.

We’re all gleaners, finding beauty and meaning and sustenance in the unlikely, the odd, the overlooked. We’re all magpies, lining our nests with beauty where we find it.

And so we continue into the new year. I am beyond grateful to everyone who has allowed me to share their work, and I’m very very excited about some of the work I plan to share in the month(s) ahead. I’m thankful for anyone who has taken the time to read, look, share, and respond, and I hope that you will continue to do so! Happy New Year to all, and wishes for peace, health, joy, and inspiration to all of our magpie friends.

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