Since the first day that Vladimir Putin’s army invaded Ukraine, I’ve stopped reading and writing. I should say, my only reading is news about the invasion (as well as Club Plum submissions). My books and journals sit untouched, and the essays I had thought I would tackle are still undeveloped, hastily voiced notes spoken into an app, an act that allows me to grab fleeting ideas while I’m brushing my teeth or before I fall into slumber. For weeks, before and after work, I listen to and watch Putin’s atrocities and Zelenskyy’s victories. We say, One man is killing all these people. We say, This man is a hero. We know, however, that many hands are dropping the missiles. Many hands are deflecting the onslaught. We tell ourselves, If the Russian people knew the truth, they would stop this brutal dictator.
And maybe they would.
But then I think of Donald Trump’s rule, and despite the truths that flooded the United States’ airwaves and eyewaves, he almost ruled again, and he may rule again. This brute. This liar. This racist. He may lead my democratic nation once again.
Freedom and democracy are fragile. They are precious, and they shouldn’t be precious. They should be mundane.
Writing and creating, for some of us, is mundane, and for that, we should take pause and treasure our ability to write and to create, to share our words and images, knowing how closely these acts are tied to our freedom, to our democracy.
In Volume 3, Issue 2 of Club Plum, exciting words and art from Kashmir, England, Australia, Canada, and the United States make their way across the globe to all places save those regimes that have blocked free expression. The contents of this issue are not overtly political, but they are real, and they are ours, and people have fought and died–are fighting and are dying–so that we might be able to claim what is ours.
Let us take nothing for granted.
Yours in words and art,
Thea Swanson is a feminist atheist who holds an MFA in Writing from Pacific University in Oregon. She is the Founding Editor of Club Plum Literary Journal, and her poetry, fiction, essays and reviews are published in places such as World Literature Today, Mid-American Review and Northwest Review.