It seems like this is the time of year when the arc of our lives and years is thrown into clear view, especially for those of us who are students and teachers. It seems like the start of summer is perpetually sneaking up on us until its arrival, when we realize half the year has passed and our years must begin their inevitable dénouement. Perhaps this is the reason that the summer solstice is known as la Journée Internationale de la Lenteur, the International Day of Slowness, in les pays francophones: a day to slow down, enjoy the company of those around you, and not get caught up in the whirlwind pace of everyday life.
Thinking about this day for slowing down, I realize it’s like close reading, taking a careful look at the characters, setting, and arc of our own lives. It is this last one that seems to resonate most deeply when thinking about our lives, and obviously this issue of Mason’s Road. At its most simplistic, the arc of life is the same for each of us: birth, death, and of course all that other stuff in between. But it’s all that other stuff, how we each move from point A to point Dead, those tiny little arcs within the arc, that string of moments that are so barely connected it’s easy to miss, that set us apart as individuals.
Geometrically speaking, arc is any unbroken part of the circumference of a circle (in our case, dare I say the circle of life?). While poetry is undoubtedly a study of life, a focus on those barely-strung moments, it can be difficult to maintain the continuity called for in geometry. It is for this reason that I prefer the astronomical (as in referring to astronomy, as I don’t think it’s too outrageous) definition: the part of a circle representing the apparent course of a heavenly body. This aligns with arc as a verb: to move in a curve suggestive of an arc. When looking for poems to welcome into this, our third issue, it was the idea behind these last two definitions that I kept in my head. Poetry can jump down the string, be non-sequential, incomplete. So long as the suggestion of the arc is there.
While there are some poems here that follow arc in the more traditional sense, I invite you to explore those poems where the arc is more suggested, where you are dropped into the moment, knowing that something just happened, even if you don’t know what it is – where long after you’re finished reading the poem, you find it coming back into the arc of your day as your mind plays out the various endings that could be, or couldn’t, or are. Take each poem on its own, then take them all together; try to find the intersection of the various arcs, and then slow down, and embrace their intersection with your own.
Yours in poetry,
Colin D. Halloran and Brittany Hill
Poetry Co-Editors, Mason’s Road