Two hundred copies of Issue 35, Kestrel, Spring 2016, arrived at Fairmont State University to the temporary home of the Language and Literature Department on Friday, July 22. On Monday, editor-in-chief Donna Long and I met to begin processing the mailing. We ran into some obstacles, including the wrong size labels, and desperately missed our intern, Velicia, who was out of town visiting family. We finally succeeded in mailing contributor copies. We agreed that on Wednesday we would meet again to send out subscriber copies and copies to Kestrel supporters.
The subscriber labels list was even trickier to format and print, so Donna worked on that while I did the hands-on business: stuff the envelopes, write “Book Rate” in permanent marker on each envelope (we need a stamp, it’s on the office shopping list), and then slap on return address labels.
I must admit, it felt time-consuming to spend hours processing a mass mailing. It’s repetitive labor. I had to stand and stretch now and then to ease my poor posture from bending over envelopes. It made me ponder my purpose in life, and how proud I was of our recent issue, including an essay by West Virginia writer Jorn Earl Otte that introduced me to the Drake Equation, a mathematical formula that proves that life on other planets is possible. It was amazing, like reading A Brief History of Time and realizing the power of narrative.
Donna finally managed to print the stinking labels just as I finished the envelopes. As we affixed the subscriber labels, it was a welcome surprise to recognize every name, and to think of the people behind the names who read Kestrel and attend Celebrations, who care about literature and poetry and art. Processing a mass mailing of a literary journal is more than tedious labor; it’s a thread in the connection that makes a community of thinkers and readers separated by distance but close in mind. Therein, the pleasure lies.