A Letter from the Editor: “Next not now”

From Anna Zarra Aldrich

The theme for this year’s Long River Review was “next, not now.” Throughout the course of this semester we discovered the various meanings of “next” and found that each of our definitions differed slightly, which is part of the beauty of working with a large editorial staff. 

For me, next was always about the impact on the reader. If the pieces we chose could lead the reader to think about something in a new light or think about something they hadn’t before, that piece fit our mission. 

But since we put the journal to bed, some things in the world have changed. For me, the idea of next has become even more significant as the world has moved into a kind of suspension. As people wonder what is next for the state of the world or more narrowly when their own nexts will be: the next time they’ll see friends or family, or the next time they’ll be in a classroom, the theme of this journal feels strangely prescient.  

Artists have long been tasked with documenting and making sense of the world around them and to imagine the next from within the now. As the concept of next seems increasingly elusive, I believe the journal we are launching tonight has a new significance for the now. I hope this journal will allow people to find beauty, escape or meaning in the now through taking the moment at hand to indulge in the consumption of art. 

The Long River Review Podcast discussed the creation of quarantine art in its first episode several weeks ago. Those who are creating art now, when the current moment seems to be unending, perhaps have the greatest opportunity to create work which encompasses “next” even as that concept may seem inaccessible. Art has the power to use imaginative possibilities to create a future or alternative beyond our current situation. 

My own journey with Long River Review began three years ago when one of my poems was published online. After talking to those who worked on the magazine I knew I wanted to join the staff. Last year I worked as the blog editor and nonfiction panelist. The next leg of my Long River journey came this year when I stepped into the role as editor-in-chief. Next week, my formal involvement with Long River will end and I move on to the next step of my own life. 

But my experience working with and on this journal during my time at UConn will stay with me through all of my nexts. And I hope that the love and energy we put into this journal will translate to anyone reading it. May you take the inspiration of Long River to whatever lies ahead in your next.

Anna Zarra Aldrich is the Long River Review editor-in-chief and a translations panel reader. She can be reached at anna.aldrich@uconn.edu.  

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