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Each day at my job at an academic journal, I spend eight hours emailing authors and reviewers, managing parts of the publication workflow, finding researchers to peer review manuscripts, and promoting research articles on social media. The only other living thing in my small office is a plant from IKEA that I am desperately trying to keep alive. There is a world outside my office, and it is a potentially menacing world. In every corridor, university emergency protocols are posted, instructing us what to do in the event of a tornado or chemical accident or active shooter. Yet I feel safe within my cinder block fortress. And isolated.

When the weather turns warm each spring, I use my lunch hour to explore the neighboring arboretum. Once outside, I am no longer a duchess of Google spreadsheets and princess of publication timelines, but an explorer of hiking trails. This leafy green world doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to the chipmunks and the birds and the deer so accustomed to humans they don’t startle when I near them. There are gardens, a prairie, marshlands, and, as one would expect, miles of wooded trails. It provides me with perspective, far from the orderly world of my documents and to-do lists.

When I think of nature in writing, I think of William Wordsworth and other writers of Romanticism, but it is probably the simplest place to find inspiration no matter what era or genre we write in. In this issue, you will find poetry that captures the moments spent by rivers and under the moon; short stories on the lives of animals and fiction that reflects on relationships and nature; and an essay about the fear and wonder inspired by an encounter with orcas. We hope you enjoy this issue.

The theme of our September issue is Nemesis, and submissions will be open from June 1st through August 1st. Our submissions guidelines can be found here. Halfway Down the Stairs is currently seeking a poetry editor, so please visit this page for more information.

Thank you to our readers, our authors, and to everyone who submitted to our June issue.

— Stacy Wennstrom, Senior Nonfiction Editor


© 2018, Stacy Wennstrom

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