Yesterday I saw my six year old niece for the first time in years. She sat on a car boot while I waved hi from the front of my house, unable to go and hold her to me tightly. We have only seen each other on screens for so long, and I bore the insult of having her so close, yet removed. In context, this seems like such an insignificant wound, but even the smallest needle can pierce the skin.

              This has been my first issue working with TSR in the role of Editor in Chief, and Erin McFadyen’s first as Deputy Editor. It has been a joy to get to know the team better (I started here in 2020 reading submissions) but, like all teams in lockdown, we’re hampered by distance. We introduce ourselves in comments on Teams, and in glitchy video meetings.

              What I want is to hear the uncompressed laughter of my colleagues, and see how the colour of people’s eyes change when they’re happy. I want to receive hundreds of submissions about how wonderful it is to be alive. About warmth, and joy. But it is 2021, and an overwhelming number of the works we received for PUNCTURE were about death.

               It’s not surprising. We’re surrounded by real-time death counts, and forced every day to remember our fragility, our mortality. ‘Today I was thinking about the sentence “Why should you be spared?”’ write Lauren Berlant and Kathleen Stewart in The Hundreds (2018). A perverse survivor’s guilt devalues any positive sense of health and security. It’s possible to feel lucky and utterly hollowed out all at once. But, as Louis Klee writes in his ambulatory poem ‘Occasionalism’, ‘we live before we die’.

              The pieces that ended up in PUNCTURE reflected on what perseveres in this interrupted life—relationships; memory; the things that sink into our skin as reminders. John Francis Istel manages to capture the dynamic between two people simply with his speaker looking out the window in ‘Sentenced’. Lily Cameron imagines how we might seek out a relationship that is predictable, even programmable, in a world of uncertainty and ecological collapse. Chris Armstrong’s ‘Mother Who Gave Me Life’ reimagines the Gwen Harwood poem in the debris of post-consumerism, adding another generational layer of conversation.

              We’re thrilled to have been able to commission three short prose works from the winners of the Kingston Arts Centre Artz Blitz, judged by TSR staffer Maya Pilbrow. Two of these works, from Susannah Bowen and Em Readman, put the slipperiness of memory at the forefront, and Erica Louise’s piece opens up the possibility of communication with other worlds.

              Our comic artist, Leonie Brialey, ties these aspects of life together in ‘The Line’, reflecting that: ‘Each line reminds me that I’m going to die one day / That I’m here for a good time not a long time’. With that thought, I invite you to take a ride along the spiky snake that is #23 PUNCTURE (how good is that cover art by Maria Viirros??), get vaccinated when/if you can, and imagine our relationships knitting back together as we come out of this. Hold creativity close. We love you.

Claire Albrecht
(Editor in Chief)