Our publisher, Stephan Anstey, is hot for monkeys as a symbol of potential - what writing can be if you keep at it. Me, I love the fact that monkeys live in the jungle, lush and layered lands of surprise where there's no telling what beauty, stench or mysteries you'll find, and where wonder and discovery are always a heartbeat away from poison and peril.
I imagine you could never visit such a place and remain unchanged. Likewise, remarkable writing can - and should - have the same effect, transporting the reader to other places, times and dimensions of the psyche without passport, air fare or mosquito netting. This idea inspired the theme for our inaugural issue of Shakespeare's Monkey Revue, "place," and travel you will to places worldwide and into humanity itself.
Join us on a back porch, the setting for give-and-take between two generations that later unsettles one of them. A rose garden holds space for a gardener’s irreverent ode to a rogue vegetable. Enter a library, host to a poetry reading and to the conflicted musings of a writer in attendance. Indeed, there’s no telling what you’ll find here. With yourself as your tour guide, you may both lose and find yourself in these brilliant slivers of finely crafted poems, essays and stories.
Jungle creatures figure out where they are by staying in constant contact with their tribes, and the ways they communicate are as varied as they are. Chimpanzees (not to be confused with monkeys!) drum on tree roots to keep tabs on each other. Driver ants, blind little bugs that they are, use scent to point out the way to prey. Elephants send each other trunk calls, an infrasound that can travel for miles.
Writers have just as broad a palette of techniques, styles, tones and language with which to communicate. But there's one clear distinction between "us and them." In the jungle, the method of communicating that's most functional for a species is the one that endures. In literature, writing can't just be functional, practical or "good" to withstand time. In literature, the works deemed excellent (nod to Shakespeare) are the ones that last.
Excellence demands devotion, passion and practice. Without those qualities you're a driver ant that's lost its ability to smell, gearing up for the great ant colony in the sky. It’s my fondest hope that SMR will inspire writers to keep pushing the parameters of excellence, and that readers who crave more than the ordinary will keep reading this publication for the joy and wonder of what they'll find in the rich and mysterious jungle of humanity.
Peace & beauty,