Welcome to the 2013 issue of Mandala Journal. This issue is about shelter. Many other things are about shelter, too, as it turns out: an album and a hit single by Sammy Davis Jr. ("The Shelter of Your Arms"), a song by the Rolling Stones ("Gimmie Shelter"), a song by Bob Dylan ("Shelter from the Storm"), and a 2011 film called Take Shelter. Related: emergency instructions, e.g. "take shelter," "run for cover," "stay inside," and "do not panic." See also: housing booms and busts, gardens, feng shui, the neighborhood, the underpass, shelters for the abused, addicted, and homeless, human and animal; moving out, crossing borders, shacking up, paying (or not paying) rent, debating the merits of tent camping, camper camping, and RV camping (if you are in my family), and standing on solid rock versus sinking sand (if you are in church).
Now it's been some time since our kind first walked out of the caves and decided to really make a go of it, and now we have Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs to help us dichotomize the appetites of our hearts and bodies and tell us which are most pressing; but our hearts and bodies keep on asking the same old questions anyway, such as, am I safe? Am I loved? Am I home yet?
In past years the journal has been online-only and it's been dead trees-only, but this year it's both. Shelter will be available in its entirety exclusively online, as usual, but highlights from the poetry section will also be available in a (very) limited edition companion chapbook, printed, folded, and stapled with care by the Mandala staff. Most copies will be given away (or have been given away, if you are reading this after April 25, 2013) at the launch party. A handful will be stashed in local businesses around Athens. If you see one, take it, and maybe send an email letting us know. Every scrappy little poetry zine deserves a home.
Mandala Journal is the product of an all-volunteer team of many loving hands and brains, pieced together in their spare time ("spare time") with the gracious support of the Institute for African American Studies and web designer Lindsey Harding, who re-built our website from scratch with fantastic energy and dedication. There is no us without them and you. Thank you.
Now, have you ever liked a poem or story enough to read it over and over again, linger over it, debate its merits around a big wooden conference table on a Wednesday night, and give it a spot on a short list? And then a short short list? And then give it a forever home on a lovingly re-designed Internet website? Probably you have. We have the resources to actually do those things, though, which is an extraordinary privilege. As you read the following poems and stories, we hope you will find that we have not taken this privilege for granted.
Christine Pardue is a junior studying English and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. She cares a lot about baking. She is (tentatively) planning to go to graduate school for social work and women's studies and would like for more universities to offer dual Master degrees in those fields, please. Thank you.