The Unimagined Corollaries of Beauty


The odometer on my little Sonoma pickup turned over to a hundred thousand miles yesterday afternoon. I was a little tired, so there was no commemoration of the event. I didn’t even notice until I was nearly home, seventeen miles later. I parked and dragged myself inside, greeted the puppy and number six son, in that order, and headed wearily for the bear cave.

I’d just plopped down in my broken old chair when Kate came bounding in. Red plaid skirt and leather boots, one of those pretty little cashmere blouses, pearls and gold bangles, her eyes wild with excitement. “William!” she said, “Michael tells me there’s an avalanche of orders!”

In case you don’t know, the Michael in question would be Michael Linnard, founder of Little Red Tree Publishing. We’ve been in collaboration – some might say collusion – for several years now. And the orders? Those would be for the inaugural edition of the Peacock Journal Anthology, which wasn’t even supposed to be launched yet.

“Michael put it up a couple hours ago,” Kate said. “He and I were so excited we couldn’t help sharing the links.”

Well, there’s a lot to be said for enthusiasm. And she was so pretty, bouncing up and down in that little pleated outfit, how could I do anything but smile?

We started this whole project, as the saying goes, on two wings and a prayer. The prayer was hers. One wing was my life in art and literature and philosophy, and the other was my life in electronic code. First there was nothing there, and then there was something: Trying to conjure things out of thin air seems to be what humans do, it’s certainly what Kate does. And as Hildegard says, we need to co-create the world.

Except we didn’t do it all, or even most of it. We had help from Michael, and local poet Ed Shacklee. The real creation was done by our contributors, who wrote and thought and painted and photographed and sculpted and played and composed. There’s so much talent out there, such incredible minds, legions of people doing wonderful things, even if conditions seem sometimes unpropitious. They’ve done everything we’ve asked, and more, surprising us, and perhaps even themselves, with what they’ve been able to create for the journal. Many had no idea, when they sent us work, we’d ask them to invent a Statement on Beauty. Heck, for a little while, we didn’t even know ourselves.

But each has responded with a mixture of joy and dedication… and maybe just a touch of grumbling. But it was all worth it: now they, and you, can hold the results in hand. The Anthology will be available at our Bookfair table at AWP. If you can’t make it to Washington, DC this week, it’s already up at Little Red Tree Publishing, and on Amazon.

What else is there to do, except to express my gratitude? First to Michael and Ed: none of this would have happened without them. Especially to everyone who has sent us work: all those in the Anthology, and all those on the web journal – we’re at 300 hundred published contributors already. And all those who have sent us work that didn’t make it in: sometimes it just takes a few tries. But most of all to Kate, who keeps the wheels turning, and keeps me moving, which isn’t always the easiest task in the world. Darling, all this is for you:

“Give me yourself as matter for my song:
the songs will come back worthy of their cause.
Europa, Io, Leda live as long
as we keep reading poets with applause.
So may our legend last while verse endures
and all that time my name be linked with yours.”

W.F. Lantry
Washington, DC