After a transformative six-month hiatus, Adi Magazine is back. We will be releasing biannual volumes, each with an overarching theme and six monthly issues, which means more original art and fresh provocations to re-humanize policy around the globe for you, our cherished readers. We invite you to sign up for our newsletter for updates on new releases and other exciting developments!
This May, we are thrilled to bring you “Between Worlds,” the inaugural issue of our first volume, Omens, with original illustrations by Herikita. Omens are phenomena that are believed to portend a future event. In this time when apocalypse seems to dominate global (and generational) imaginations, we asked writers to consider how they read and use signs to construct narratives of their lives, their communities, institutions, and societies that replenish our collective will and capacity to survive. We invoke survival in its many dimensions – as continuity, endurance, preservation, adaptation; that deep human longing to be well and in just relation to ourselves, each other, and this planet we share.
The works in “Between Worlds” consider moments in transition between clearly defined spaces, where promise and danger, hope and despair, are simultaneously in abundance. In María Ospina’s Detour in the Canopy, excerpted from her debut novel, Solo un poco aquí (Just a little here) and translated by Heather Cleary, we follow a tanager’s final seasonal migration from the northeast region of the United States to the Colombian Andes. The journey exposes us to a world in the process of being destroyed, a people in the midst of displacement, and a fierce little girl who sees in a toucan’s beak, “shears to cut even the strongest flower: a magical box, a queenly blade… to bring their good luck back.”
Meanwhile, in Inshallah Time, Gregory Pardlo reflects on the persistence and ruptures of his identity as a Black American as he negotiates its phenomenology of tensions, contradictions, and occasionally, sense of “unbounded possibility,” in the context of the Middle East. He asks, poignantly, “If I could imagine myself outside the symbolic order of American race—which is not to delude myself into believing that race doesn’t matter or that I should be immune to its effects—could I even survive that momentary exile? Could I see my skin without shuttling it along the one trajectory of meaning given to it by my kith and country, and nonetheless return home?” Similarly, though along a different axis, K-Ming Chang excavates the liberatory and ambivalent possibilities of facelessness in a patriarchal context where a woman’s face marks her as an object of possession, and where to belong is to be possessed. She challenges us to reimagine The Woman with No Face, a figure of horror – which is to say, of shame and grief – as a beloved family member, and a guide: “Tell me, I whisper, where is that other world, that ghostworld where you roam, where you are identified only as moonlight, taking the face of anything you touch?”
Indeed, where is that other world? Jennifer Foerster’s poem, Asterism, transports us to one version of it in mythic time – the “echo of an invented people” – where dream-logic prevails, at once “buried” and bright as “a star’s ignition.” Alexis Pauline Gumbs offers us yet another device to approach it in New Spelling: an oracle crafted from the archives of Audre Lorde, an ancestor who never forgot her ancestors, who insisted on bringing her beloved dead into a shared future. Here is poetry that attunes us to something in us below the plane of reducible, consumable things; divination that refuses the spurious certitudes of “hot take” culture and binds itself to the patience, effort, and humility of listening.
We hope you are as moved by this issue as we are, and we hope you will share it with your communities.
Our deepest gratitude to Meara Sharma, former Editor-in-Chief, and Brannavy Jeyasundaram, former Managing Editor, for their vision and dedication building the foundations of this critical literary project. Our team – Editor-in-Chief Cynthia Dewi Oka, Senior Editor Jori Lewis, and Founder/Publisher Nimmi Gowrinathan – are excited to welcome Genevieve Hartman as our new Social Media and Outreach Manager. In coming months, Gena will be touring and reflecting on Adi’s body of work on our social media accounts. We invite you to join her and share your thoughts and responses with us. We would love to hear from you!
-Cynthia Dewi Oka, Editor-in-Chief
In this Issue
Detour in the Canopy
Most of the poison falls on the crops but some also reaches the trees that survived the logging, where the tanager is resting, as a toxic dew that burns flesh and clouds eyes.
“One day, you will learn,” the woman said, “inshallah.” She was talking about the language, but to me her words prophesied a more transcendent lesson.
Lorde teaches us that our loved ones are everywhere if only we are listening. And are we listening?
The Woman with No Face
Because she was a daughter, my aunt was given away as a baby. She was adopted into a no-faced family.