Issue > Editor's Note
Watercolor on paper
68 x 55 in, 2018
by Sofía Ortiz (CDMX 1988) @sofia_ortiz_s 

Sofía is an artist and educator from Mexico City. Her work focuses on the 'invention' of the natural world and human's shifting relationship to it. She holds a BA from Yale University (2011) and a MFA from Rhode Island School of Design (2017). She has twice been awarded the Jóvenes Creadores (young creators) national grant by the National Foundation for the Arts (FONCA), and most recently was a Helen Frankethaler Fellow at Vermont Studio Center. She has participated in exhibitions in Mexico, United States and China.

Editor's Note

We're pleased to present our latest Issue 85, which contains exceptional poems, translations, reviews and art. These works have been part of a long process that finds its way into a world gripped by a pandemic and the deep pain and anguish over continued racist violence and police brutality. The Cortland Review has and will continue to stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and calls for social justice against systemic racism and violence. The Cortland Review is committed to amplifying the voices of Black writers and the work of writers of color.

On our cover, we are fortunate to feature Sofía Ortiz's stunning watercolor Atlixco (2018). Ortiz describes the painting as "a take on the historic gardens of Atlixco in the state of Puebla. This painting harmonizes the endemic flora with species introduced in the 19th century that would go on to become emblematic of Mexico, such as the jacaranda tree. In this sense, categories such a as 'natural' and 'foreign' are blurred; plants melt into each other to show that our world is a constant state of construction. That is, there is no such thing as a 'natural state' (or 'good old days', for that matter) and attempts to claim one are tragically myopic." We're so grateful to have this extraordinary, vibrant work begin this issue's collection.

Issue 85 showcases twenty-six phenomenal poets and translators: Hussain Ahmed, Benjamin Aleshire, Diannely Antigua, Amy Bagan, Theresa Burns, Robert Carr, Chen Chen, Brian Komei Dempster, Ben Evans, Ariel Francisco, Jai Hamid Bashir, John James, Luke Johnson, Matthew Lippman, Amit Majmudar, M. L. Martin, Rose McLarney, Meggie Monahan, Stacey Park, David Roderick, Annie Schumacher, Donna Spruijt-Metz, Noah Stetzer, Ryann Stevenson, Svetlana Turetskaya, and Emily Van Kley.

We are pleased to offer three book reviews in this issue. Oliver Baez Bendorf reviews Francisco Aragón's After Rubén; Deborah Hauser reviews Crack Open/Emergency by Karen Poppy; and David Rigsbee reviews In The Lateness Of The World by Carolyn Forché. These insightful and intriguing critical analyses and recommendations will hopefully lead you to these fascinating works.

Our featured book is Fantasia for the Man in Blue by Tommye Blount. His first full-length collection, as Vievee Francis writes, "clasps our chins in his hand and won't let us turn away." These unforgettable poems speak to violence, intimacy, grief, racism, and erotic desire as experienced by the Black, queer body with an unswerving gaze. Imbued with both the beauty of longing and the constant terror of cruelty, these always surprising and staggeringly gorgeous poems weave kinship and estrangement, artistic legends and hidden personas, cinema and porn, the mythological with the immediate, all within unrelenting hierarchies of brutality. I cannot recommend this book enough.

Finally, many thanks to the TCR staff who make this journal possible, particularly during these difficult times. I wish them and our readers health and safety.

Enjoy the issue!

Christian Gullette


John James

John James
California Winter


Ryann Stevenson

Ryann Stevenson
Intelligent Oven

Book Review

Deborah Hauser

Deborah Hauser
"Crack Open/Emergency" by Karen Poppy