Welcome to the 2014 issue of Mandala Journal.

We debated for a long time about what sort of theme to give this year's issue. We produced lots of good candidates, which we have bookmarked and will probably return to in later years. But for now, this year, we're calling it Issue X—because we want to welcome theme(s) which are produced rather than assigned on the front-end, because we want to make room for oddities and multiplicities; because we wanted to see what would happen.

You will notice that we have also dispensed with our usual organization by genre. This year, we printed out all of the pieces for the issue and spent a few weeks spreading them out on tables, arranging and re-arranging them until some arrangements looked better than others and started to stick. It was not as mystical a process as tarot card reading—and definitely more belabored—but it had that inexplicable feeling, like we were just barely brushing up against the why of these groupings before brushing right by. And now these groupings, or chapters, have a life here, almost as unadorned as when we started. All together on the screen they look like a skeleton, or an essay outline without a thesis or title. (It's true, two out of the four prose pieces feature earthquakes, one by Daniel Lopilato and the other by Éireann Lorsung, but don't mistake that for a thesis.) We hope that the proximity of poetry and prose to one another and the occasional bright flashes of art and—new to this year—spoken word in between will produce connections and openings which would not have been possible for you otherwise. And we hope that you find that it reflects Mandala's larger vision of established and emerging, historical and contemporary, and local, national, and international in conversation.

So—let X be natural disasters, bent consonants, activism, all kinds of history—geological, alternative, personal—all in excess of any one theme we could think of. Let X be excess.

—Christine Pardue