Erika Walsh, Co-Founder & Editor
In this issue, we gave contributors the option to send us recordings of their work being read in their own voices — their sighs and throat clearings, their whispers and chants. This felt especially important, since the pieces in this issue are firmly rooted in the body — they are concerned with intimacy and with ghosts, with selfies and with wasps, with cake and with kumquats, with mannequins and pigeons, with the neck, with the stomach, with hands, with trauma, with reclaiming, with healing, with trying to heal. With us. With you. They are concerned, are caring.
These pieces are as important as they are beautiful. They glow and they shift. They extend tenderness both to small moments of beauty and to the largeness of ownership — over one’s identity, body, and story. They are concerned with the power of naming, of being able to know and to shape one’s own self. As Elizabeth Theriot writes in “Dear Briseis”: “If I could / name any-thing, I would / name for you a mantle, a street, a small park beside the cul-de-sac / & I would name what happened to you / & what happened to me / & maybe I would name us / something altogether new.”
We hope this issue serves as a place where readers can reimagine their capacity to create power and pleasure in their bodies, their lives, and the world. We hope reading and viewing and listening to the work in this issue serves as a way for those hurting, especially those who have survived trauma, domestic violence, and/or sexual assault, to find ways to relate and to heal, to reimagine and reclaim, to love and survive.
As Lauren Bender writes in “love notes to self, despairing — VIII": “healing is not a waste of time.” Healing is not linear, is not easy, is sometimes perhaps a forever process, or endpoint after endpoint. Perhaps healing is expansive enough to live through and inside. An ongoingness. An entire life. More than a way to bear pain, to survive — a source of joy and of wonder, of discovery after discovery, of somehow always finding new ways to grow and be. Of somehow always finding new ways to take back time. To make it yours.
Emma Sheinbaum, Co-Founder & Editor
We find truth in observation, find it in therapy sessions, find it in conversations, find it in introspection, in journal entries, in places that have grown dusty and forgotten. Truths vary in texture, just as this issue’s pieces explore an array of forms, media, and levels of abstraction across identities and experiences. Whether a piece is directed towards the self or another, there is a degree of connection happening, a line of empathy being built. When we express our relationships to our own bodies, we are drawing connections between others’, and there is power in this vulnerability.
When we are creating art, when we are exploring expression, we are seeking what we want and who that makes us. We are craving connection. When Erika and I founded A VELVET GIANT, we did so with the intention of providing a platform for voices — their shapes and ideas — without the boxing-in and conformity of genre labels and the expectations and simplifications that come with those labels. When we moved to New York soon after AVG’s inaugural issue was published, we found ourselves working seven jobs between the two of us while continuing to focus our energies and attention on this project. As we each work our part-time jobs six and sometimes seven days per week, our reading, discussions, and clerical responsibilities drove us and kept us going. There is something invigorating and crucial about balancing what we — all of us, you too — need to do to survive and what necessity asks us to do.
There is empowerment in saying, in the tumultuousness of everyday life: behold my one fang of wisdom, watch it tremble in the gum rotten to the core, my precious presence, I command, my personhood, myself, my sinking ship, as Carolyn Supinka writes in “In Our Nature”. We hope this journal provides a space for you to pursue and dig deeper into what sustains you, what moves you. To celebrate it, to connect through it.
There is a vulnerability in pursuing what you love, what energizes you, what you dedicate yourself to for the sake of passion, curiosity, truth, collaboration. In an environment that encourages and validates making a profit, holding jobs, only looking out for yourself, categorizing and cornering our contexts, there is power in making art, committing to craft, exploring and expressing our interiorities and where we find ourselves, and opening up and connecting across those worlds. We are proud of you. We are here for you. We want you here.