This month we’re soliciting for submissions to the next issue of qarrtsiluni, which Beth and I are editing ourselves — no guest editors this time. The theme is “The Crowd.” If you have poems, prose or artwork that might fit, please see the call for submissions. The deadline is June 30. Here’s our theme description:
The crowd, the flock, the herd, the mob, the swarm, the tribe: we are simultaneously fascinated and repelled by this super-organism, capable at times of great beauty and even wisdom (cf. The Wisdom of Crowds) and at other times of appalling ugliness and violence. Aristotle defined humanity as an animal whose nature it is to live in a polis, but in all ages we seem incapable of deciding whether this is a good or bad thing; one commentator’s inspiring revolutionary struggle is another’s mob rule. For the next issue of qarrtsiluni, we are open to all perspectives, positive and negative, historical and biological, on crowds and other aggregations of social animals. Inspiration can be sought in the ecstasy and fervor of the stadium, the battalion, the game, the march, the final episode, the fad, the stampede — or the collective consciousness in general. With the planet’s burgeoning human population threatening to exceed our ecological carrying capacity, and so many crises now requiring urgent collective action, it seems imperative for artists and writers, so often antisocial ourselves and preoccupied with the struggles of individuals, to turn our attention to sociality in its most vital and basic form.
We decided to eliminate our unreliable online contact form and ask people just to submit by email, and I’ve been intrigued by the variety of salutations people use in their cover letters. First-time submitters tend of course to be more formal. We’ve gotten:
- Dear Editors,
- Dear Editor:
- Hello Editors,
- hi dear Editor,
- Dear Editor,
online literary magazine.
- Dear Beth Adams and Dave Bonta,
- Dear Beth and Dave,
Repeat submitters, especially those we’ve published in the past, tend to favor “Hi Beth and Dave” or some variation, which mirrors our own preference for “Hi [First Name]” in responding to submissions. We did get one “Hello q crew,” which gave me a chuckle.
It seems I’m far from alone in finding “Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. _____” stuffy and out-of-date for electronic communications, and I almost never close with “Sincerely,” either (nor do qarrtsiluni contributors). And yet “Dear ____” and “Sincerely” still seem perfectly natural for paper letters. Odd how the physicality of a letter elicits greater formality, as if we were not merely addressing the recipient but also to some extent acknowledging the presence of the paper, too. Or more likely, the artifactual nature of a paper letter triggers expectations and responses from one’s past associations with such artifacts, a sort of muscle memory reinforcing norms of epistolary tradition at odds with the more speech-like ways in which we typically deploy email. It’s interesting to see how these styles mingle in the electronic versions of highly convention-bound communications such as the cover letter for a submission to a magazine.