At the end of every academic year, the staff of Michigan Quarterly Review gathers over pizza to chat and to dream. There’s usually a marker board (or a long pad to write on), and sometimes there’s a bag of Hershey’s Kisses on the table. We call it the Dream Session, and here, we throw our ambitions on the board. Last year, one item on the list was a new imprint, a way to feature the experimental and the eclectic. How could we lean into the flexible and highlight new forms while furthering the journal’s mission to publish diverse emerging voices?
Enter MQR Mixtape, a new online imprint of Michigan Quarterly Review. A place to explore, welcome brilliant experimentation, and break new ground. After months of brainstorming and curation, we are excited to share the first issue with you. Welcome to Becoming, the debut issue of MQR Mixtape.
I am thrilled for you to read Nadia Alexis, whose poetry highlights Black women living in the wake of violence. Meet Morgan Thomas‘s parasol-wielding “statue,” pursuing stillness and navigating the tenuous realms of artistic life and security. Meet Jasmine An‘s Monkey King and queer expats, interrogating their identities through myth and movement. In their visceral flash pieces, Sabrina Helen Li examines a young woman’s fraught relationship to her body, and Ama Asantewa Diaka paints a vivid picture of a mother and daughter’s bond in light of brutal inheritance. M.E. Bronstein recalls online fandoms and a girl’s desire to belong in an inventive coming-of-age story, Piper Gourley recounts a young anorexic’s unraveling in a lyrical essay, and Yohanca Delgado‘s vibrant Dolores discovers she is invisible on the bus to work.
Alongside striking visual work from Nadia Alexis, Chante Lasco, Sena Moon, and Chelsea Welsh, these artists bear witness to bodies queer and female, bodies in flux, transforming and surviving under systemic pressure.
I am especially grateful to MQR editor Khaled Mattawa for helping us see this dream to fruition, HR Webster and Polly Rosenwaike for their endless generosity, Katie Raymond and Jessica Wolking for their graphic and web design, and my fellow guest editors this season, Eirill Falck and Justin Balog, two of the kindest teammates I know.
While the MQR team could not gather this year to dream together, we are learning to adapt, to return to the world renewed in our commitment to promoting marginalized artists. I hope that in its own way, Becoming honors this re-emergence.
Thank you for your support.
Elinam Agbo, Guest Editor