Letter from the Guest Editor

Solitude is a part of every life, and from person to person it can mean something different and new, something dour and tragic, something essential and protected, desired, feared. When I first put into words why I felt solitude would make such a fascinating theme for an issue, I had my own unique connotation in mind, my own vision of solitude: the cool, quiet afternoons spent alone writing, puttering about, resting, reading, no need to go out, no need to have anyone in, just staying tucked away because going out can be so damned draining sometimes. I seek days alone. I need days alone. Solitude is an essential companion. And while I know not everyone’s vision of the word “solitude” is the same, and I expected different variations on the tune, the array of interpretations that spilled into our inbox surpassed any of my expectations.

To make matters more interesting, deciding what pieces reflected solitude in creative and insightful ways was made more the difficult because each of the editors and readers at cahoodaloodaling had their own visions of what it means, and combining these differing viewpoints into one spectrum of solitude (hence the title) became the real challenge. And not because our views clashed, but because we all recognized that there are so many views to include, and we wanted as many thoughts and feelings about solitude as possible to appear in the issue. I feel we’ve done a good job of that, and we had no lack of material to mull over. You made the choosing difficult, but I feel the results speak for themselves and we’re all very proud of this issue, and of you, the contributors. Thank you.

A few pieces stood out to me, and one poem, our spotlight piece titled “(of use)” is notable because I feel it touches on so many types of solitude: the solitude that comes with age and evolution, the quietness of changing agency and need, the isolation of perhaps unwanted expectations and roles, all spoken of in simple, subtle, layers stanzas and lines. It’s concise and beautiful and harrowing all at once, and I’m very happy to be able to share it with you in this issue.

As you read through, I hope you will consider all the beauty and trauma that can come during times of solitude. In seeing how others experience this feeling, maybe you will be able to broaden your thoughts on the meaning behind the moments we spend alone, whether intentional or not. There are lessons hidden within each, and in finding them, we become better artists, writers, and humans. Thank you again, and enjoy the issue.

—James H Duncan


Guest Editor’s Spotlight:
(of use) by Megan Merchant

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