Essays and Esther Williams

October 14, 2015
Re’Lynn Hansen

In structuring my art, I am always faced with the dilemma: should my words try to organize my thoughts, or should my words be sculpted into new forms, new poetics of the page, including images and video clips that would mimic the many digressions that exist in my mind? Should my paragraphs even look like paragraphs? Or couldn’t I embed video clips or photos in my essays?

These questions about form occurred again to me recently—on a day when I was writing about my experience with breast cancer. I realized that my day of researching new immunotherapies at Mayo and Cleveland Clinics had been interrupted by a few hours of watching television. There was an Esther Williams marathon on the TCM channel. I became entranced by the synchronized swimming schematics and the elaborate planning it must have taken to get one hundred women in a tank with Esther Williams who rose above them, somehow, on a rope, that winched her up to her diving platform. From this diving platform, she dove back into the circle of women—with her mermaid crown still on. Amazing. I abandoned cancer research for the day and began to Google everything I could about Esther Williams. I found she had broken her neck filming this scene. The mermaid crown was too heavy and had snapped her head back when she entered the water. But in that grand Hollywood tradition she had managed to continue swimming while the film ran. I decided that when I wrote about my experiences with cancer, it would have to include my day with Esther Williams. At first she was merely an escape. But as it turned out, she was a role model for crazy-style persistence.

As an editor of Punctuate. A Nonfiction Magazine, I am aware that the experience of a day might now include, thoughts, the analysis of thoughts via Facebook, and the engagement of ideas as they are “trending.” And all this, taken together, creates new narratives—narratives that focus on a contemporary themes and environments. Punctuate will be looking for material that reflects the totality of experience in the millennium. But also, we will look to the traditions of and go for material that reveals an author and a voice.

Welcome to Punctuate. A Nonfiction Magazine. Punctuate, is a magazine that aims to create a threshold between traditional narratives and new nonfiction forms. Punctuate will emphasize the strong voice and pace of literary nonfiction, while acknowledging new forms that include image, sound, and word mosaics.

Punctuate will will be published continually online. Once a year, we will print some of the best collected work from our online Punctuate, along with interviews, reviews and amazing creative work that will be bonuses to the print edition. The ability to create new texts online is an exciting opportunity for Punctuate. As well, the printed version of Punctuate will hint of the blending of traditions: narrative essays will be published alongside newer forms of narrative nonfiction such as graphic memoir and flash nonfiction.

As an editor of Punctuate, we will look for writing that brings the complexity of the human condition forth. We will look for established authors and emerging voices that use traditional and contemporary forms in fresh and honest ways. Punctuate will be looking for writing that speaks of the post-contemporary human condition and our journey as we re-envision our past and transcribe the new.

Re’Lynn Hansen, editor

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